Colonial Surfer - STNC is a project about the contemporary globalized world and power structures within the surf industry and its realm. Surfing is not just a sport but also culture (producer and distributer). In current discussions you hear about the post colonial – but the situation today is better described as neo colonial. Surfers do travel a lot and somtimes to places unknown to other tourists. The way surfers behave and represent themselves in the adventures search of perfect waves has a lot in common with ancient colonizers and their roles. To surf maintain and conserve already existing structures. History.

STNC Editor: Kristoffer Svenberg

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

STOP THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT!

 





                WHY?











Surfers who are staying and living on beaches with their neighboring regions are in some ways akin to The Occupy Movement. Yes, I mean the one that started in New York - Occupy Wallstreet, which then spread around the world. Surf culture has an even more further and wider dissemination. And I can aesthetically from a rather romantic perspective compare it with the world's global occupy protest movement. However, there is a substantial difference. The surf culture is occupying in favor of capitalism and globalization. It doesn’t protest or work against unequal structures. The movement is rather about surfing on these unequal structures. 

In comparison, if we take a basis of a tourism industry in a fairly unexploited tourist site, but still populated by surfers. Surfers often live in tents and bungalows when there aren’t any hotels near the break. In these “camp” sites there are no protest banners or political placards like at the Occupy movements spots. Rather there are surfboards lined up in different ways. You can see advertisements for various small eateries and restaurants. And the area is flagged, here and there, with global surf company commercials. It is advertisement that often tends to be very stereotypical, sexist and American, European "normative". 

The restaurants and places to stay are in the early stages mostly local owned. But when the tourism exploitation by poor areas increases, it begins to attract international rich companies. Hotels and restaurants from USA, Japan, European areas and Australia are then dominating a lot of the popular spots for surfers. And it goes as far as that places are getting fenced and proclaimed: Private.

It’s not rare that people express dissatisfaction with this kind off exploitation. But at the same time it is almost seen as natural and inevitable. To get the best access to the surf then at these sites, surfers do pay to stay at the expensive hotels. I'm not at all opposed or against that those areas develop and become richer. I am critical on how the power relation are between tourists, wealthy businesses and the local citizens. These areas get colonized by the tourism and surf industry. It is a massive and dominant cultural imperialism that finds its way through a traveling surf, “backpacker” culture to "remote" parts of the earth. 

Surf culture is today at no means a subculture with challenging perspectives on the world order. It is rather part of the norm, an ideal and a standard culture in the market economy. It is used in advertising for just about everything possible. Such as fast food, soda, beer, communication, training, sweets and whatever. It reaches a wide audience and it is no more norm breaker alternate-radical than IKEA. 

When we travel as surfers, we must ask ourselves about who we are, how we are privileged and how we impact the places we go to. And it's not about that we are supposed to spread stories in those areas about how we as great good tourists are helping, or giving something back. The root in the problem is about how we are dominantly speaking, spreading our stories and culture. Thereby we get other voices and perspectives silenced and shut. This wave of dominance needs to be broken to create a better more equal world. And it has to be done through challenging and breaking free from colonial power structures and chains that extends far back into history. 


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