Scott Laderman, "Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing" (U California Press, 2014)

Released Friday, 19th June 2020
Good episode? Give it some love!
Since 2020 has been such a horrifying year (and it’s only June!), it would be nice to relax a bit this summer and talk about something fun and apolitical like surfing. After all, what’s more chill then hanging at the beach and catching some waves?
But wait a minute! Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing (University of California Press, 2014) is about imperialism, white supremacy, Apartheid, Cold War politics in Central America and Southeast Asia, genocide, and the ways in which large corporations commodify and suck the very soul out of vibrant countercultures. Scott Laderman tells us “surfing is not a mindless entertainment, but a cultural force born of empire (at least in its modern phase), reliant on Western power, and invested in neoliberal capitalism.” Whoa, total bummer, dude! Empire in Waves is part of the University of California Press’ “Sports in World History” series and uses surfing as a prism to explore a number of crucial political, economic, and cultural issues.
Scott Laderman is a professor of history at the University of Minnesota, Duluth – home of the best surfing in the upper Midwest.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not quietly reading or happily talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Episode Reviews

This episode hasn't been reviewed yet. You can add a review to show others what you thought.

This podcast, its content, and its artwork are not owned by, affiliated with, or endorsed by Podchaser.
Rate Episode

Share This Episode

Recommendation sent

Join Podchaser to...

  • Rate podcasts and episodes
  • Follow podcasts and creators
  • Create podcast and episode lists
  • & much more

Episode Details

1h 17m 6s
Episode Type

Episode Tags

Do you host or manage this podcast?
Claim and edit this page to your liking.