The image I selected was from an album ATELIER “DE FAMORA” with photographs that documented the banana trade in 1925 in East Java. The photographer of the album is not stated, but the company De Famora prepared the album; however, much not information is given. The photo records the harvesting and transportation of bananas in the costal port in Banjowangi or presently known as Banyuwangi in Dutch East Indies. Due to the lack of the information about De Famora, we cannot conclude the significance of this album to them besides the recording of the banana trade. As seen in the image, there are dozens of rows of bananas, and it appears the people there are workers who possible manage taking care of the bananas and preparing the bananas for trade for the colonists. The bananas are native to the Dutch East Indies, and when the Dutch colonized Java, they took the opportunity for their own benefits in trade. The workers in the back of the image are people native to the land and based on history’s patterns, we can make the conclusion that the colonists made them work and do the labor for them. This image is significant historically because bananas are a significant part to Java’s history and can tell us about their environment, cuisine, and culture present day.

This image tells us that how the people native to the Dutch East Indies were affected by Java became one of the world’s largest banana exporters, which would result in exploitation of the workers. It is common theme of colonization that typically European power dominates and the people native to land are forced to work under harsh conditions to satisfy the colonists’ needs (The Long Ride to a Sustainable Banana Trade) We can predict from this that the people native to the Dutch East Indies were forced to work in labor for the benefit of the Dutch who were controlling the trade (lecture) The Dutch East India Company was a company that was formed and controlled the trade. They had control over the prices of the bananas during the trade as well, in order to limit the competition. However, this was bad for the native farmers there because they would not be able to sell their bananas for a reasonable price. The farmers got the poorer quality bananas in comparison to the quality of the bananas that the Dutch exploited for their trade for greater prices Since the farmers had the poorer quality bananas, they had to be sold for cheaper prices and weren’t able to receive the compensation for their hard work growing those bananas. The Dutch exploited these farmers for money, while leaving the farmers with the “scraps”.

The banana trade had a significant impact on the environment as well. Bananas are a tropical fruit; therefore, they grow on the trees. This is important because to what happened during the banana trade because since there were mass productions of bananas being cultivated, that means the trees were cut down to speed up the process. However, cutting down all these trees has led to deforestation, which is harmful to the environment as it may have caused major climate changes, loss of food and animal habitat, etc. Soil degradation may also be an issue as result of the deforestation. This could have been a problem for the farmers and natives there because soil degradation may cause landslides and floods, and this could destroy the crops, plants, animal’s habitats, and possibly even the homes of the people who live in that area as well.

            The Dutch East Indies banana trade is significant to the present day as the banana trade is important all around the world as bananas are exported almost every single day to various countries. Bananas are a staple in many dishes as well. In present day, Dutch bananas are used for vegan meats, banana bread, and even lingerie. Bananas are used all around the world in various forms. (Gert) Indonesia still uses bananas presently in dishes such as fried bananas fritters known as pisang goreng.

            The Dutch East Indie banana trade was important culturally and historically for many reasons as bananas are crucial to present day and represents the patterns of labor and colonialization. The banana trade caused the exploitation of the native people by forcing them into heavy and harsh labor conditions. Not only the people were affected, but Java’s environment and forests were affected as deforestation became an issue. Despite all of the issues that the banana trade had caused, the banana trade is still presently known as one the biggest trades in the world.

Shared By: Krirana Preeyaphanich
Source: CU Boulder Archival Collections
Image Alt Text: Many bananas in crates

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