Britain, Argentina and Welsh Migration: A Reassessment

in International Migrations in the Victorian Era
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During the Victorian period, Britain had a close and profitable economic relationship with Argentina. The latter, after independence, continued to be a very important focus for British investment (notably in the construction of the railway network), as well as a destination for British migrants. A Welsh colony, established with Argentine government approval in the southern province of Chubut Valley, Patagonia, was set up by people who wished to escape anglicisation in Britain and to protect, especially, the Welsh language. The colony experienced serious difficulties in the first few years, but then gradually attained subsistence and, later, economic prosperity. Argentine expansion and nation-building, however, accelerated during the 1870s and incorporated the Chubut region into the Argentine Republic. The colony fragmented: some remained, others chose remigration – often to the British Empire. This decision indicated the residual Britishness of some of the Welsh colonists. This was confirmed on the outbreak of the Great War. Volunteers from the Welsh colony enlisted and expressed loyalty to the war effort and the British Empire. The cultural separatism of the Welsh colony had given way to a plurality of attitudes to both the Argentine state and to Britain, a plurality which requires reassessment of the character of the colony.

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