The surfing Tommy Tanna: Performing race at the Australian beach

Osmond, Gary (2011) The surfing Tommy Tanna: Performing race at the Australian beach. The Journal of Pacific History, 46 2: 177-195. doi:10.1080/00223344.2011.607263

Author Osmond, Gary
Title The surfing Tommy Tanna: Performing race at the Australian beach
Journal name The Journal of Pacific History   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-3344
Publication date 2011-09-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/00223344.2011.607263
Volume 46
Issue 2
Start page 177
End page 195
Total pages 19
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Abstract A Pacific Islander known only as Tommy Tanna, who was employed as a servant in Sydney in the late 19th century, is widely credited with introducing body surfing to Australia. Along with the better-known Alick Wickham and Duke Kahanamoku, Tanna represents the contributions of Pacific Islanders to the development of Australian aquatic sport and is racialised and mythologised in memory. This paper examines Tanna via the lenses of race and performance. It aims to situate Tanna within the context of other Pacific Islanders in the aquatic ‘show spaces’ of Sydney and the reinvigoration, development and reification of a Nimble Savage stereotype which ascribed aquatic prowess to some Islanders, and to assess his surfing activities as performative of race. This discursive context assists in analysing the ways that Tanna has been represented in varying acts of social memory, which themselves are performative acts that link his contributions with his Pacific origins.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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Created: Thu, 13 Oct 2011, 19:09:10 EST by Dr Gary Osmond on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences