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Showing posts from 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.…

Muggleton, D.

Sitting in bed after a wonderful weekend at 'Splendor in the Grass'. Karen O for PM...

I recently spent a (happy) week in Sydney, taking adavntage of the State and Mitchell libraries. It was a wonderful change of scene. And I got to to gulp down a few Max Brennar hot chocolates!

Lately, I've become a little obsessed with the whole concept of 'subculture', so at Baden's encouragement, I've been doing a bit of exploration about the way the term is defined in broader academic literature.

My problem with the use of 'subculture', is that I've seen it as a way to put down cultures that aren't conservative or constructive in any traditional way (I know, I know... define traditional). By denoting something as sub, I felt that it was a way of dimishing the meaning of the culture and the identity in a broader social context. How are 'subcultures' secondary to another culture, and which culture are we talking about? A national identity? If it…

Language Barriers

Saturday night in; a bath, paint my toes and read a little. Quite nice really...

I have been battling with this whole thing a bit lately. I've been finding it hard to read and to think and to proceed in any kind of meaningful way with this thesis. But I may have finally figured out why. And it's a little pathetic.

I am living and studying between two worlds, and it's not something I had considered before. I hadn't realised what a barrier my university connections would prove in trying to talk to friends and family about this surfing culture thesis. I don't force discussions of this project on anyone (I understand that my interests aren't everyone else's), but on the occasions I've tried to speak about it with friends, who I believed would be able to give me some kind of feedback or opinion, I've drawn a blank. The general responses have been "that's great, but it's over my head" or "it's beyond me" or even nothi…

Surf Rage? You bet!

Today, I've been reading Surf Rage: A surfer's guide to turning negatives into positivesedited by Nat Young (and Derek Reilly).

It is certianly an interesting comment on the issue of violence in the surf and why it occurs. It also contains several examples of blaring hypocisy and finger pointing! No-one wants to take the blame, no-one seems to want to be guilty. It seems that many of the contributors want to remain as alpha-male surfers, but to also stake their association with the historical development of the 'surfer's code'. There is a ridiculous amount of 'back in the day' postulation about their own experiences, with an emphasis on the 'authentic' experiences of earlier surfers and how they compare to the somehow less pure experiences that people have today. The way these men write, it's as if you weren't around in the scene in the 60s and 70s, the you don't know what it's all about. Is it merely a case of grumpy old men, lo…

idea!

Sitting at home in the lounge room, watching Young Guns and As Is, drinking tea and hanging with Nicky while Elaine cooks him a b'day cake...

Oh! And I'm looking through "'Getting There': travel, time and narrative" by Barry Curtis and Claire Pajaczkowska (1994), in Travellers' Tales: Narratives of home and displacement, edited by George Robertson, Melinda Mash, Lisa Tickner, Jon Bird, Barry Curtis and Tim Putnam (WHEW!). It got me thinking...

When we travel, we are inhabiting new physical, cultural and psychological times, spaces and locations than the ones we are accustomed to. We inhabit these new realities and try to understand them, but there is always a struggle to leave behind our cultural assumptions and to embrace the new.

However...

Let's consider surfing as a cultural location. From this position, is it possible that when surfers travel for specific surfing holidays, they are, in part, inahbiting the same cultural location as they do in their…

Geertz baby!

I'm sitting at home on my bed, listening to the (pouring) rain outside and going through some old undergrad essays from Anthropology.

I'm reminding myself what it is about cultrual studies that is so useful.

And I just remembered how much I love Clifford Geertz! Oh! Darling Geertz. What a man...From a D. Austin-Broos essay;
The anthropology of Clifford Geertz underwent a transformation through his experiences of studying Balinese life.In his essay, Religion As A Cultural System, Geertz defines culture as “historically transmitted patterns of meaning embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards life” (Geertz, 1973; 89).This definition belies Geertz’s optimism regarding the capacity of people to negotiate change within their own means and with their own agency.Symbols in such a definition are tools to be utilised by the individuals of the …

Starting over...

This blog is starting over again, so here is everything so far including an entry for today...
Sitting on the floor in my ( very clean) lounge-room madly trying to finish this cursed ethics application so I can interview some folk (the mad tidying, re-organising, scrubbing and bleaching of the house has finally finished - since there is no surface left to clean. And considering there's no-one on MSN, procrastination has given way to actual work. Sigh.)...

It has however, helped a LOT by making me think about the implications of this project and the reasoning behind it - validation, I think it's commonly called.

Anyhoo, an extract... The proposed research project explores the ways that surfing culture builds a bridge between international communities. It explores the way that participation and inclusion in surfing culture develops a greater sensitivity to the surrounding world, both natural and human. With this in mind, there are several benefits to be identified. The first is to t…