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date: 17 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In the grand narrative of surfing, the pastime diffused from Hawai’i in the early twentieth century and fifty years later from Australia and California; by the end of the century surfing had been codified into a sport and homongenized as a global culture. This chapter questions the grand narrative of surfing and raises historiographical questions about evidence, context, and social memory. It presents alternative evidence and interpretations and exposes a more complex, disordered, and chaotic surfing past. The chapter proceeds from the assumptions that narratives are not definitive reconstructions but representations and processes of mediation and that historians are authors who, in addition to choosing their evidence, choose the tools of their mediations such as contexts and concepts. In these senses, historical narratives of sport, including surfing, should be understood as residing in social contexts that determine their cultural resonance and social memory.

Keywords: context, counter narratives, grand narratives, Hawai’i, historiography, Duke Kahanamoku, localism, representations

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