The ‘tropical’ has not just been “imported” to Northern spas and travel agency advertisements. Plastic palm trees and inflatable pineapples echo tourism experiences, have roots in “feel-good” Americana, and belong to colonial imagery. The tropical is often portrayed in simplified ways, even though there is a huge diversity of cultures, inhabitants and landscapes within the tropical zone. Could the concept of kitsch help us to understand the construct of the tropical? Could 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 sentimental and/or sugared knickknacks – another meaning of kitsch – tropical kitsch appears as quite a central phenomenon in the world 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 the Western imagination and culture than we have realized? In the Global North, where bright, sunny colors are mostly absent, we might eventually also start to see tropical kitsch as filling a need/hole in the cultural system.

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