Studies on swimming and surfing history are reviewed. They open up new perspectives on the relationship between politics, culture, and gender. These water sports can be seen historically as political and determined by local, national, and global conditions. Each study historicizes the politics of aquatic pleasure. Fighting the Current foregrounds American women's swimming challenge to the social order. Waves of Resistance looks to the contested nature of the surf zone in reclaiming Hawaiian surfing “traditions” and masculinities marginalized by Western cultural appropriation. Empire in Waves documents the Americanization of surfing, how it expanded globally as a politically ambiguous cultural practice, and carried with it the seeds of US imperialism.
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May 1, 2016
Peter Alegi Brenda Elsey
Review Article| May 01 2016
Disturbed Waters: New Currents in the History of Water Sport
Fighting the Current: The Rise of American Women's Swimming, 1870–1926. (
220 pp. ISBN 978-0-7864-4028-3, paper, $40.00.
Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing. (
University of California Press,
256 pp. ISBN 978-0-5202-7910-0, cloth, $65.00; 978-0-5202-7911-7, paper, $26.95.
Walker, Isaiah Helekunihi,
Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in Twentieth-Century Hawai‘i. (
University of Hawai‘i Press,
240 pp. ISBN 978-0-8248-3462-3, cloth, $55.00; 978-0-8248-3547-7, paper, $24.99.
Radical History Review (2016) 2016 (125): 199–205.
Glen Thompson; Disturbed Waters: New Currents in the History of Water Sport. Radical History Review 1 May 2016; 2016 (125): 199–205. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-3452006
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