and global politics, gender and race relations, and emergent economic practices
and ideologies.13
Through renewable marketing iconographies, surfing continues to hold
connotations of an indigenous ritual practice and a heathen temptation. It
enables Westerners both to purportedly “go native” and to recolonize the
postcolonial world with blissful ignorance, surfboards ­under arm. Idle time
in the waves implies a surfer’s re­sis­tance to participation in capitalism, yet the
sport’s most recognizable brands are publicly traded, multinational entities,
and corporate-­ s ponsored professional surfers gross millions of dollars annu-
ally. In spite of their self-­cultivated identity as feral travelers and countercul-
tural icons, Western surfers are often associated with affluence—or, as one surf
journalist put it, “surfing is now perceived as a pastime nestled between golf
and yoga, as opposed to a vice favored by coastal juvenile delinquents.”14 Surf-
ing is si­mul­ta­ ne ously an impetus for tourism, a local economic stimulus, and a
source of ­ g reat socioeconomic disparity in terms of wave-­riding destinations.
Surfing practice implies phenomenological liberation, while unidirectional
tourism from the Global North to the Global South and overseas manufactur-
ing highlight structural and material barriers to any sort of surf-­inspired socio-
economic egalitarianism. ­Women feature prominently in surfing iconography
and constitute a major surfing population worldwide. Yet all too frequently,
female surfers are relegated to the realm of eroticized beach spectators or emis-
saries of exotic seduction.
Surfing is rife with contradictions that beg further scholarly inquiry. It is ­
these tensions that this volume seeks to confront.
Critical Surfing Studies: Envisioning Surfing’s Radical Potential
Critical surfing studies are, simply enough, the aggregate of scholarly produc-
tion in which the history, culture, and practice of surfing, its prac­ t i­tion­ e rs, and
its cumulative media and industry institutions are central to inquiry and analy­
sis. As the below review indicates, surfing scholarship is de­cades old. However, ­
until recently, many surfing scholars have worked in relative isolation without
direct dialogue across disciplinary bound­aries or national academic traditions.
This volume marks the conversion of a set of once-­isolated specialists into a
consolidated international community of scholars of surfing culture, history,
and politics, coming together to envision the radical potential of surfing stud-
ies to dialogue with con­temporary issues in the surfing community, to review
prevailing academic debates in the humanities and social sciences, and to de-
velop activist networks. This is not the first academic collaboration with surf-
6 
D. Z. Hough-Snee and A. S. Eastman
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