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Heroes, victims or villains? Irish Presentations and Representations in Latin America and the Caribbean

Morelia, Mexico, 15-18 July 2009

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Life in the Argentine is not all shooting, polo and sport’: Masculine Imperial Mementos in John Macnie’s Work and Play in the Argentine (1925)

Murray, Edmundo (University of Zurich, Switzerland)

According to Dublin-born John Macnie, ‘for the sportsman in the true sense … [Argentina] is the best life in the world. It has, of course, its drawbacks, and a man may be leagues away from a neighbour and hundreds of leagues from another Englishman.’ He claimed that for a young British or Irish man, a working stage in the pampas was the ideal arena to learn the manly duties of hard working and sociable entertainment. Macnie’s attitudes were shaped by the social school of British imperial values, including the imposition of rules inspired by religious faith, self-perception of superiority towards other ethnic groups, a patronising relation towards others, camaraderie among men, and a spirit of adventure and athletic performance influenced by ‘muscular Christianity’. Born in 1872 into a family with Church of Ireland background, John Macnie studied in Dublin, Hanover and at Trinity College Dublin. He joined the 2/1st squadron of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry, and the in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and in 1899 arrived in Argentina. Macnie’s memoirs of the Argentine period are depicted in the blend of ‘work and play’, with a particular emphasis in rural management and landowning, and horse-racing and polo playing. It is the world view of an Anglo-Irish ethic, anxious to assert an individualistic and masculine posture. The paper analyses key passages of the book in comparison to the Irish nationalistic stance in Argentina in the same period.


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