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I. - Marchande de bananes aux Antilles

@ National Museum of African American History and Culture

Chauvet Unidentified Unidentified Woman or Women


The colonial postcard, popular in the first two decades of the 20th century, came to represent both the technological triumphs of western photography – in printing and mass production – and the political triumphs of European conquest and expansion. These postcards also promoted tourism to the French Caribbean, painting the region as a safe, favorable, and exotic travel destination.Historically, plantain trees grew in the French Caribbean, offering shade to coffee, cacao, and vanilla crops. As the 18th century progressed and French colonizers increasingly relied on the labor of enslaved persons, they planted additional bananas, turning the crop into a major food source for the islands’ enslaved populations. In the late 19th century, French colonizers introduced the dessert banana to the French Caribbean, hoping that the region would become a major international supplier of the exotic and sought-after fruit. Photography and postcards depicting the French Caribbean’s copious banana supply emphasized the region’s burgeoning market, however a lack of transportation infrastructure in the French Caribbean impeded the crop’s largescale distribution. With the establishment of "banana republics" in Central Americam, the early 20th century saw the age of industrical banana cropping in Martinique. Bananas continued to be grown locally and sold by vendors such as the woman pictured.The woman in this image wears a traditional, five-piece French Caribbean formal ensemble called a douillette, which is derived from the grand robe worn by early French settlers. Prior to Emancipation, dress codes required enslaved women to wear a chemise jupe, an informal bodice and skirt...
Silver And Photographic Gelatin On Photographic Paper With Ink On Paper (Fiber Product)
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
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National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Smithsonian Institution