Waikīkī Dreams

How California Appropriated Hawaiian Beach Culture
Author: Patrick Moser
The dark side of the sun, sand, and surf lifestyle
Cloth – $125
Paper – $27.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 06/11/2024
Cloth: 06/11/2024
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About the Book

Despite 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.

Watch a video with the author introducing the book

About the Author

Patrick Moser is professor of writing and French at Drury University. He is the author of Surf and Rescue: George Freeth and the Birth of California Beach Culture and the editor of Pacific Passages: An Anthology of Surf Writing.

Also by this author

Surf and Rescue cover



“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