A picture, the aphorism goes, is worth a thousand words. According to Bourdieu, such added value has much to do with the amnesia that clouds the genesis of works of graphic art.1 In The Fruits of Empire, Klein aims at recovering the repressed or hidden dimensions contained in aesthetic and commercial depictions of exotic fruit. Fruit consumption increased tremendously after the Civil War when innovations in horticulture, food preservation, and transport made it possible to satisfy the American demand for tropical and semi-tropical produce. Without doubt, pictorial advertisements stimulated the growing appetite for bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapples, and watermelons. Yet Klein pushes the argument further. The fine arts, such as still lives of fruit bowls, and illustrated instructions in cookery books, contributed to domesticate the often unfamiliar, sometimes spurned goods. They betrayed no hint of the labor required to grow these plants but offered advice about culinary technics...
The Fruits of Empire: Art, Food, and the Politics of Race in the Age of American Expansion by Shana Klein
Martin Bruegel; The Fruits of Empire: Art, Food, and the Politics of Race in the Age of American Expansion by Shana Klein. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2021; 52 (2): 290–291. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/jinh_r_01718
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