Making Sense of Tropical Kitsch

Max Ryynänen, Anna-Sofia Sysser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

“The tropical” has not just invaded spas and travel agency advertisements. Plastic palm trees and inflatable pineapples echo tourism experiences, have roots in “feel-good” Americana and/or belong to the colonial imagery. Could the concept of kitsch help us to understand it? Could the “the tropical” help us to understand kitsch? If one takes away the nearly deceased modern conception of kitsch as pretentious pseudo-art and concentrates on knickknacks, tropical kitsch looks like quite a central category of kitsch. The origins of modern kitsch have a connection to early souvenirs and cherished exotic objects. Does “tropical” kitsch have a far larger role in culture than we have realized so far? In the Global North, where bright sunny colors are mostly absent, we might in the end also start to see tropical kitsch as filling a need/hole in the cultural system.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalContemporary Aesthetics
Volume19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • kitsch
  • tropic
  • tropical
  • mass culture
  • popular culture
  • visual culture

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