The Banana


The Banana

Empires, Trade Wars, and Globalization

James Wiley

At Table Series

316 pages
19 photographs, 8 tables, 9 maps, index


January 2010


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

June 2008


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The banana is the world’s most important fresh fruit commodity. Little more than a century old, the global banana industry began in the late 1880s as a result of technological advances such as refrigerated shipping, which facilitated the transportation of this highly perishable good to distant markets. Since its inception the banana industry has been fraught with controversy, exhibiting many of the issues underlying the basic global economic relations that first emerged in the era of European colonialism. Perhaps more than any other agricultural product, the banana reflects the evolution of the world economy. At each stage changes in the global economy manifested themselves in the economic geography of banana production and trade. This remains true today as neoliberal imperatives drive the globalization process and mandate freer trade, influencing the patterns of the transatlantic banana trade.
The Banana demystifies the banana trade and its path toward globalization. It reviews interregional relationships in the industry and the changing institutional framework governing global trade and assesses the roles of such major players as the European Union and the World Trade Organization. It also analyzes the forces driving today’s economy, such as the competitiveness imperative, diversification processes, and niche market strategies. Its final chapter suggests how the outcome of the recent banana war will affect bananas and trade in other commodities sectors as well.
The Banana belies the common perception of globalization as a monolithic and irresistible force and reveals instead various efforts to resist or modify the process at local and national levels. Nevertheless, the banana does represent another step toward a globalized and industrialized agricultural economy.

Author Bio

James Wiley is an associate professor of geography at Hofstra University.


"Because of its long-term comparative nature, The Banana should become obligatory reference to those studying the political economy of the banana industry during the twentieth century."—Marcelo Bucheli,

"The Banana provides an exceptionally clear, informative, and comprehensive account of the banana's place in history. . . . A must-read for anyone interested in this important commodity, globalization, trade disputes, and the histories of Latin America and the Caribbean."—Steve Striffler, Journal of Latin American Geography

"For those interested in understanding the contemporary configuration of an industry that is truly global in its reach, The Banana is an excellent place to start."—Mark Moberg, Hispanic American Historical Review

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations






Part 1. A Banana Plantation Model Emerges in Latin America

1. The Creation of the Banana Empire, 1900-1930

2. The Empire Challenged, 1930-74

3. The End of Splendid Isolation, 1974-93


Part 2. The Caribbean Banana Industries

4. Peasant Farmer Societies: Commonwealth Caribbean Bananas

5. Belize, Suriname, and the French West Indies: On the Margins of the Caribbean


Part 3. The Changing Framework of the International Banana Trade

6. The Single European Market and the Western Hemisphere's Banana Industries

7. Neocolonialism Encounters the Free Trade Imperative

8. The World Trade Organization and the Banana Trade

9. The U.S.-EU Banana War Heats Up


Part 4. Globalization

10. Pursuit of an Elusive Goal

11. Implications for the Future





Also of Interest