Thursday, April 26, 2012

Synecdoche for Empire

Below is the text of my paper written last December. It is a bit lengthy for a blog post, but I feel it's important to make it available. Sovereignty in the Falkland Islands is still a controversial issue and I want to be clear about my stance on the issue as a historian. This work presents my analysis of the relationship between the Falkland Islands and the United Kingdom, based on the sources available to me in New Mexico. Most of these sources come from outsiders looking in on the situation. The lack of sources from the Falklands and the people who live there is part of what has motivated me to go there and see for myself.

During the twentieth century, the significance of the Falkland Islands increased as Great Britain attempted to remain relevant in the bipolar world of the Cold War. In the absence of her once-great empire, Britain tightened her hold on this archipelago in the South Atlantic. However, the British fixation with the Falkland Islands began centuries ago. Repeated conflicts over the islands have served to reaffirm Britain’s imperial might politically, militarily, and economically. The Falkland Islands have come to represent the majesty of the entire British Empire, making it impossible for the United Kingdom to relinquish sovereignty. In the twenty-first century, the Falkland Islands serve to commemorate Britain’s former greatness and hope for future generations of Britons.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Summer in the South Atlantic

...has already passed. I'll be arriving at the Falkland Islands in time for winter. Many people I know would mourn the loss of a summer, but I can't wait to get out of this heat. Summer in Texas is hot and dry with little relief to be found from the sun's harsh rays. Normally, I deal with the heat by staying inside, but sometimes venturing outside cannot be avoided.

This morning I spent three hours outside in New Mexico. One of my courses this semester is in living history, for which we time travel* to 1912 twice a week. The past few time travels have been pretty comfortable, but I could tell today was going to be miserable as soon as I got into costume. There was almost no breeze and temperatures were in the mid 90s. Can you see why I might want to go way south for the summer?

Mrs. Josephine Foster of the Rio Grande RepublicanOh, I am wearing a corset 
and chemise under everything.
Apart from the attraction of avoiding the Texas summer, it's been a while since I've had a real winter. We definitely don't get them in Texas and Virginia tried occasionally, but it just wasn't the same. Since I was 12 the last time I experienced a real winter, I had some serious shopping to do. One thing that hasn't changed - it's still hard to look good and stay warm at the same time. I used to get teased for dressing like a dork with so many layers, but I was warm. For the past few years I've bought my winter clothes with greater attention to appearance. I have a couple of very nice looking coats that aren't exactly suited to freezing weather with high winds. It looks like I'm going to be a dork again. But, a warm dork.

This is probably the dorkiest part of the outfit. But, hey, it was on sale, it's cozy, and it's windproof. The other color option was pink. That definitely wasn't going to happen.
Gloves! With a fuzzy lining! I know from experience that mittens are warmer, but I like having some degree of dexterity. Besides I can always wear them over a pair of fingerless gloves for extra warmth.
I love boots. I really love boots. These are both pretty and warm!
And last, but not least, a furry hat! I know it's impossible to take me seriously wearing this 
hat, but I absolutely love it. I fully intend to wear it on the airplane. It'll double as a pillow 
and noise reducer! Oh, and that is real rabbit fur. This probably comes from the four years 
I spent in Russia, but I don't have a problem with people wearing fur in climates that 
demand extreme measures. I think winter in the Falklands counts.
Three weeks left in the semester. Can I make it?

*Time Travel is a form of first person living history promoted by the international organization Bridging Ages.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Countdown Starts

In exactly one month I leave for the Falkland Islands. It will take me three days to get there, stopping in Dallas, Santiago, and Punta Arenas before I finally arrive in Mount Pleasant. Then I'll complete my journey with a drive to Stanley.

I'll spend two months in Stanley working with the Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust on their oral history collection. Using this collection and other sources, I plan to write my masters thesis on the question of national identity in the Falkland Islands.

Why am I so interested in these remote islands and the people who live there? The answer comes from last fall, when I took a course titled British Imperialism. The final assignment was to write a case study on a British colony. Eddie Izzard came to the front of my mind, as he often did that semester. I decided that I wanted to understand why Britain waged war on behalf of 2,000 people and as many sheep.

I've since presented the resulting paper, "The Falkland Islands: Synecdoche for Empire" at two different venues.

I discovered the Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust during my research. After exchanging many emails with the Museum Manager and submitting numerous funding applications, I'm ready to go!

  This is the whole bit on WWII and Imperialism. He gets to the Falklands around 7:20.