Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States

Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States

by John Soluri


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Winner, George Perkins Marsh Award for Best Book in Environmental History, American Society for Environmental History, 2007

Bananas, the most frequently consumed fresh fruit in the United States, have been linked to Miss Chiquita and Carmen Miranda, "banana republics," and Banana Republic clothing stores—everything from exotic kitsch, to Third World dictatorships, to middle-class fashion. But how did the rise in banana consumption in the United States affect the banana-growing regions of Central America? In this lively, interdisciplinary study, John Soluri integrates agroecology, anthropology, political economy, and history to trace the symbiotic growth of the export banana industry in Honduras and the consumer mass market in the United States.

Beginning in the 1870s when bananas first appeared in the U.S. marketplace, Soluri examines the tensions between the small-scale growers, who dominated the trade in the early years, and the shippers. He then shows how rising demand led to changes in production that resulted in the formation of major agribusinesses, spawned international migrations, and transformed great swaths of the Honduran environment into monocultures susceptible to plant disease epidemics that in turn changed Central American livelihoods. Soluri also looks at labor practices and workers' lives, changing gender roles on the banana plantations, the effects of pesticides on the Honduran environment and people, and the mass marketing of bananas to consumers in the United States. His multifaceted account of a century of banana production and consumption adds an important chapter to the history of Honduras, as well as to the larger history of globalization and its effects on rural peoples, local economies, and biodiversity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292709577
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 01/02/2006
Pages: 337
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

JOHN SOLURI is Associate Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Linking Places of Production and Consumption1
Chapter 1Going Bananas18
Chapter 2Space Invaders41
Chapter 3Altered Landscapes and Transformed Livelihoods75
Chapter 4Sigatoka, Science, and Control104
Chapter 5Revisiting the Green Prison128
Chapter 6The Lives and Time of Miss Chiquita161
Chapter 7La Quimica193
Chapter 8Banana Cultures in Comparative Perspective216

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