Birdseed sent in this photo he took at a grocery store in Stockholm (which he posted at his blog as well):


The product is a new beverage, Fanta World Pineapple: Inspired by Jamaica. The two guys in the photo were hired to promote it at the little tiki-style counter. Johan says,

A couple of things leap out at me straight away:

* The continued (post-)colonial association of Jamaica with its plantation produce. The “inspiration” seems limited to the fact that pineapples are grown there for the consumption of the global North. (Canned goods like pineapples still have the charming moniker “kolonialvaror” (colonial merchandise) in Swedish retail jargon.)

* The ridiculous (verging on blackface) stereotypical representation of “Jamaicans” that the kids are suppsed to portray. It seems to have been done with extreme sloppiness – for instance, the Polynesian lava lava (a type of sarong) that they wear has absolutely nothing to do with Jamaica at all, but rather acts to represent an identity-less generalised tropics, dehumanised exotica.

The music was, of course, bad reggae.

I think Johan hits on an important issue here–how often the cultures of non-Westernized countries are mixed together into an undifferentiated image of exoticness–for instance, “tribal” fashion and “traditional” handicrafts often supposedly represent “Africa,” which is a meaningless category given the enormous diversity of cultures, languages, clothing styles, artistic motifs, and so on. But if you put some geometric designs and maybe an elephant on some cloth, it evokes “Africa.”

it’s also interesting that a certain hat shape and dreads have become such easily-identifiable shorthand symbols of Jamaica, and that Fanta is commodifying the idea of Jamaica to sell a product that has no reason to be more “inspired” by Jamaica than anywhere else pineapple is grown–Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, etc. etc. etc.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.