Abstract

In the contemporary sporting world, California is an incubator of lifestyle (or alternative) sports. In large part responsible for the popularization of beach volleyball, skateboarding, snowboarding, and BMX, California has been on the frontlines of the modern sporting revolution since the early twentieth century. Before this process of Californization could fully take hold, however, the state experienced an era of Americanization, with various practices and ideas flowing from east to west in the cultural baggage of American settlers. After the Mexican—American War and the subsequent Gold Rush, a roller-skating craze swept westward. An understudied and trivialized topic in sport history, roller-skating in California ushered in socially dominant white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) ideals of gender, race, and leisure, proving a powerful tool in the Americanization of the preannexation Indigenous and Mexican populations. Using the writings of Raymond Williams, George Rudé, and R. W. Connell on hegemony, this article demonstrates the cultural significance of roller-skating in the Americanization of California in the 1870s and 1880s in terms of gender, race, and class.

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