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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics Events & Colloquium

DemCP lecture - SCOTT LADERMAN (University of Minnesota Duluth): "Imperial Waves: Indonesia, South Africa, and the Politics of Surf Culture"

When:Mo 13-02-2023 15:00 - 17:00
Where:Room A900

Scott Laderman, professor of History at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (Fulbright, Uppsala), will give a guest lecture at the Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics.


It would be hard to overstate surfing’s influence on global popular culture. From scores of Hollywood movies and television programs, best-selling “surf music” albums, and prominent surfing-inspired fashions, modern surf culture had become, by the early twenty-first century, a $100 billion industry. Yet beyond its global popularity, surfing has a less celebrated past. More than simply a mindless pleasure, the sport’s origins lie in the precolonial Pacific and only became American with Washington’s 1898 colonization of the Hawaiian Islands. Surfing then rode the coattails of American empire-building, spreading worldwide with the expansion of American power. By the 1960s, surfers were emerging as the shock troops of mass tourism, opening up destinations from Asia to the Americas. The surfing lifestyle even performed a minor role in official Cold War cultural diplomacy. This presentation will explore this fascinating yet largely unknown history, showing some of the ways that surfing both embodied and transcended the California dream and came to represent many of the conflicts and tensions that marked the American century.