The Fruits of Empire by Shana Klein Available for Pre-Order
The Fruits of Empire is a history of American expansion through the lens of art and food. In the decades after the Civil War, Americans consumed an unprecedented amount of fruit as it grew more accessible with advancements in refrigeration and transportation technologies. This excitement for fruit manifested in an explosion of fruit imagery within still life paintings, prints, trade cards, and more. Images of fruit labor and consumption by immigrants and people of color also gained visibility, merging alongside the efforts of expansionists to assimilate land and, in some cases, people into the national body. Divided into five chapters on visual images of the grape, orange, watermelon, banana, and pineapple, this book demonstrates how representations of fruit struck the nerve of the nation’s most heated debates over land, race, and citizenship in the age of high imperialism.
Images: (top) Moisés Barrios, Banana Toys , 2003, Oil on Canvas, Collection of the Artist; portrait of Shana Klein. (right) Cover of the book, The Fruits of Empire.