Surf's us : constructing surfing identites through clothing culture in Cornwall.

Ripley, Julie (2018) Surf's us : constructing surfing identites through clothing culture in Cornwall. Doctoral thesis, University of the Arts London, Falmouth University.

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Abstract / Summary

Critical literature on surfing is concerned primarily with its development as a competitive sport, focusing on ‘stand-up’ surfing in the USA and to some extent in Australia, resulting in a body of work populated almost exclusively by young white males. However, in Cornwall, forms of surfing including belly and body boarding have been enjoyed for almost a century by all ages and ethnicities, both sexes, at every level from international competition to non-competitive leisure, from daily practice to holiday novelty. The area has developed a distinctive clothing culture stemming from this plethora of surfing activities. This study asks, how has the material culture of bellyboarding and surfing in Cornwall developed historically, and how does the clothing culture in the area relate to the global phenomenon of surf style? The contemporary scene is evaluated by means of a visual ethnography of a Cornish seaside village where surfing is the focus of social events and commercial endeavours. Through an examination of the clothing culture in the area, it explores how gender and sexuality, class and consumption, community and belonging are negotiated and articulated.

The historical and cultural contexts in which this complex relationship developed are discussed with reference to archival material from regional museums, personal collections and interviews with amateur and professional surf historians. Oral histories of surfing, bellyboarding, bodyboarding and beach life compiled for the study and from existing collections are additionally used to interrogate existing narratives of surfing history. Drawing on and extending theoretical perspectives on subculture, taste, consumption, space and place, this will be the first study that investigates how the clothing culture of surfing explores and constitutes, constructs and reconstructs gender, class and regional identity, and how it defines and redefines the region’s surfing locales by its visible presence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clothing and dress. Surfing.
Subjects: Geography & Environment > Cornwall
Fashion & Textiles
Depositing User: Lucy Seale
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2021 12:27
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2021 12:27
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/3232

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