This postcard entitled Sugar Cane in Blossom, Barbados is from 1911. One can pretty safely assume that they are cane workers (although they have no tools with them. The cane is at a growing stage which can be seen by the arrows or the blossoms so their work would have been weeding and maintenance.) Tourism aside, at a time in which these photographs would have been taken there was much less visual imagery, this postcard would have reinforced the class position of the field workers to both the plantation owner as well as to the field worker themselves (Thompson 12). Furthermore, the fact that they were posed in a line in front of the cane, (the photographer placed them in the same depth of field as the cane) and the exclusion of their presence in the title of the card indicates that these black fieldworkers were more than part of the landscape, they were the landscape (7). In that era, white tourists would likely not have expected to interact per se with the black population but still would have expected to see them, to look at them over there and this image would have reinforced (Thompson 7). I feel that it is important to understand the postcard and the functioning of the ISAs in both the local context - the worker and the ruling class - and the global context - the worker, the ruling class both local and global, because this is an on-going global issue. Interesting comparisons can be made from this postcard from 1911 to this recent postcard that I found online from Indonesia.
This postcard with no title is an image of a young man wearing a cheetah high cut bathing suit, leaning against a tree branch in the shade, on a non-identified beach. One might think that these are less clear cut visual examples of ISAs in action. There is no product, such as sugar, in the image that directly profits the ruling class. However, I would argue that this demonstrates ideology’s ability to adapt (126): The objective remains the same - to keep the ruling class in power and the working class working for the ruling class (106). In the 1980s, tourism was already amongst the primary industries in Barbados (databank worldbank .org) and would have included a multi-national industry of hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, airlines, marketing companies, and so forth. Postcards directly or indirectly would have serviced all of these industries. They would also service the ideological concept of the “first” world and the “third” world. But the representation of ideology shifted according to the real life conditions of existence (Althusser 126): in this case, the real life conditions of the shift in tourist desires. An easy clear cut example of this would be the shift in the 1950s to the image of the beach becoming a primary signifier for “the tropics” as Krista Thompson points out in An Eye for the Tropics (280-281).
Cutting Sugar Cane, Cuba
Sugar Cane Harvesters, Barbados
Sugar Cane Cutters, Jamaica
Natives in a sugar cane field, St Kitts BWI