About the BookDespite a genuine admiration for Native Hawaiian culture, white Californians of the 1930s ignored authentic relationships with Native Hawaiians. Surfing became a central part of what emerged instead: a beach culture of dressing, dancing, and acting like an Indigenous people whites idealized.
Patrick Moser uses surfing to open a door on the cultural appropriation practiced by Depression-era Californians against a backdrop of settler colonialism and white nationalism. Recreating the imagined leisure and romance of life in Waikīkī attracted people buffeted by economic crisis and dislocation. California-manufactured objects like surfboards became a physical manifestation of a dream that, for all its charms, emerged from a white impulse to both remove and replace Indigenous peoples. Moser traces the rise of beach culture through the lives of trendsetters Tom Blake, John “Doc” Ball, Preston “Pete” Peterson, Mary Ann Hawkins, and Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison while also delving into California’s control over images of Native Hawaiians via movies, tourism, and the surfboard industry.
Compelling and innovative, Waikīkī Dreams opens up the origins of a defining California subculture.
“Moser challenges conventional surf historiography in ways that are desperately needed. Mainstream surf narratives frequently point out the influence of Native Hawaiian culture on California surf culture, but typically without critical analysis. Moser upends these narratives by bringing in Indigenous scholarly perspectives to explain the dynamics of cultural appropriation in a refreshingly updated approach.”--Dina Gilio-Whitaker, author of As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock