Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Banana in Honduras

Banana in Honduras
Honduras, one of the world’s leading exporters of bananas between the 1870s and 1970s, has been considered by many observers in the United States to be the ‘banana republic” par excellence. To be sure, Hondurans have faced more than their share of political stability, poverty, and U.S strong arming during the past century. Nevertheless, they have their own set of meanings for bananas.

Even more so than in the United States, bananas and plantains have formed a central part of Honduran diets, Most Honduran home garden – be they cultivated by Pech Indians in Mosquitia or urban professionals in Tegucigalpa – include at least a couple of varieties of bananas and plantains. The expansion of export production in the late nineteenth century transformed the banana from a mundane dietary staple into “green golf”.

The fruit symbolized the material riches that filled the dreams of many working people in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America. Export production gave rise to the North East, a region filled with the wonders of Yankee-style modernization: hospital, electricity, ice factory, railroads, airplanes, radio, and imported foods, clothing, and music.

The regions dynamic economy attracted a heterogeneous group of immigrants who helped to create powerful social and political movements in the twentieth century. Many Honduras writers portrayed banana workers as icons of resistance to U.S homogeny and capitalist exploitation. In Honduras, then, the banana is an ambivalent symbol whose complexity stands in sharp contrast to the fruit’s trivial; status in U.S popular culture.
Banana in Honduras

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