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Showing posts from August, 2006

Who are these surfers?

I am writing a thesis exploring the idea that surf culture acts as a catalyst for inter-cultural connections.But who am I writing about?This needs more work, but here’s a little summary…For many people, surfing is not just a lifestyle or a stereotype – it’s their identity and their culture. If we use a definition of culture as the process and framework by which we give meaning to our world, then we can see the significance this distinction has. Stereotypes and imposed ideas have haunted surfing and surfers for a long time.In the 70s, competitions were started partly in order to validate surfing as a sport and as an activity.However now, there is a move away from the commercial, commodified side of surfing, and a growing interest in the history, people, styles and myths (within and beyond of competitive surfing) that have shaped and defined surfing until today.There is even a change in the way people are choosing their boards and developing their quiver, with an increasing focus on di…

Where have all the people gone?

I am writing a thesis about surf culture and a large part of that is about the community of surfing – local, national and global (see last post).I’ve been focussing my thoughts quite heavily on the local community aspect of surfing and trying (with great difficulty) to locate it in some concrete sense.There is a community in the water, but it can be fleeting, and the community on land is often based around competition.I know the community I seek is there, but I am having trouble nailing it down.Perusing the still photography of magazines, books and posters, I am struck by the absence of people in the pictures.It’s rare that surf photography includes the masses that group at a break, instead choosing to reflect on either the wave in isolation, or on one surfer on one wave.The photographs that include the groups of people waiting at the break are to make a point or to show a more realistic landscape, but they are few and far between, and certainly almost extinct from magazines (except f…

Abstract/Concrete

I've been doing a bit of revision of my (incomplete) notes from Vin D'Cruz and William Steele's book, 'Australia's Ambivalence Towards Asia' (2006, Monash Asia Institute).

Part of the book discusses the difference in cultures creating a continuum with abstract (individual) at one end and concrete (community) at the other. The idea is that cultures fit on various places on this continuum, with western cultures tending toward the abstract, while asian cultures are located closer to the concrete end. Neither is completely one or the other. Obviously, this is an arbitrary analysis.

I am discussing the ways that surf culture helps to create inter-cultural connections by providing a starting point of sameness from which to explore differences. As part of this, I want to be able to discuss surfing as a culture in its own right - as a culture that ( to some degree) crosses national cultural boundaries and to explore the possibilities that this provides. I am arguing that…

Location, location

Looking over the first chapters of the work of Nick Ford and David Brown in ‘Surfing and Social Theory: Experience, embodiment and narrative of the dream glide’...An important part of exploring cultures includes examining the locations in which cultural relations take place.It could be a town, a cafĂ©, a school, a village, a hut, a park.The location may set the context in which the rules, norms and relationships are understood and the ways in which they are conducted.When we consider surfing as a culture, we must consider the ocean as a cultural location, which shapes and defines the ways that surfers relate to one another.However, the ocean itself is not necessarily ‘cultured’.The beach has previously been discussed as a cultural location.It has mainly been framed as a place where nature meets culture; as a liminal space that is neither merely nature nor culture but somewhere in between.Liminal spaces have their own rules that do not belong to the world we exist in usually, but neithe…

Borderwork

'Borderwork in Multicultural Australia' by Bob Hodge and John O’Carroll (2006), explores the ‘borders’ that exist between cultures.These borders act as markers for territory, identity and values that are to be defined and maintained.Borders also allow us to decide who is included and excluded from being identified with what has been marked out by these constructed boundaries.Borderwork then, is a description of the ways that we maintain and overcome these cultural borders;

Borderwork is what we will call the many processes by which humans construct, maintain, police and negotiate a variety of relationships, whether based on similarities or difference, love or fear.Borders are often seen as the enemy of multiculturalism, as though multiculturalism is really only about harmony and ease of relationships.But multiculturalism is about managing differences and similarities alike, in ways that may be positive or negative in different circumstances, according to different perspectives.…