NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ1150333
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1933 8341
Bitter Sweets: Mapping Pineapples, Hospitality, and Slavery
Dawson, Julia; Mitchell, Jerry T.
Geography Teacher, v14 n3 p118-129 2017
The objects that represent our material culture--street signs, mascots, symbols etched into stone or printed on stationery--are silent bearers of history: the past tattooed on the present. The meanings given to those objects may change from one social or culture group to another. One seemingly innocent and overlooked example in this vein is the pineapple. Today, pineapple symbology abounds in Southern home décor and is celebrated in public spaces far from its growing fields. Historically this welcome sign is traced to the Carib, who placed the fruit outside their villages when inviting Spaniards to visit (Coyle 1982), and reportedly, eighteenth-century ship captains placed pineapples on their porches to announce their arrival home after visiting tropical ports. Hidden from view, however, is the fruit's connection to plantation slavery, which fueled the movement of millions of Africans to the Americas from the mid-1500s to the late 1800s. The lesson described here uses primary and secondary source documents and geovisualization technology (Google Earth) to trace the journey of pineapples from the West Indies to Charleston, South Carolina, and finally, to the table of a South Carolina enslaver. In so doing, students examine hidden circuits fueling nineteenth-century world trade--links between Caribbean fruit farms, Atlantic Ocean voyages, the lavish dinner tables of South Carolina enslavers, and the people whose exploited intellectual and physical work made all of it possible. In the process, students learn how the foreign-grown pineapple came to be a Southern symbol and glimpse the lifestyle of the period's uber-rich. Thus, the pineapple is not solely an innocent symbol; it is also an emblem of a hospitality born out of and inextricably linked to brutality.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Carolina
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A