“People didn’t need neighbors anymore … now they had money“
July 9, 2020 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Most people now described themselves as Falkland Islanders first and British second, but it was hard to say what that meant. Britishness was easy to proclaim—the Union Jacks, the red post boxes. Symbols were enough because everybody knew what Britain was, and there was too much of it to capture, anyway. But what a Falkland Islander was, was harder to describe.
How Prosperity Transformed the Falklands by Larissa MacFarquhar, with photos by Maroesjka Lavigne.
posted by Kattullus (8 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this, we really enjoyed reading this in the print edition. There's so much more to the article than this provocative excerpt. (this isn't a criticism, it's an encouragement).
posted by stevil at 5:42 PM on July 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

I read this a few days ago and it’s fascinating, well worth the read.
posted by wintermind at 6:04 PM on July 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Great read, this gave me a new perspective on the Falklands. I remember watching the war in the Brazilian news in '82, we were under a military government too, and the reports were all very detailed, urgent and pro-Argentina. The buzzword at the time was Exocet and, differently from the Brits, it infiltrated our language in a funny, oblique way; ending up in a post-punk electro track that had nothing to do with the war, being instead about a woman that was so gangsta she only wore weaponry print underwear, stealing a cop car to announce on the radio: "I'm wearing Exocet panties!" Totally random, but a massive hit in 1987, after the war and military rule had ended. In the 90s I took a road trip through Argentina and you could see road signs everywhere proclaiming that "Las Malvinas son Argentinas!", looks like they're still there. Nowadays, anti-colonial me thinks that sure, the Malvinas belong to Argentina. But reading about these people, they've been there for generations, speaking English, they feel British, it just feels stupid to force them to speak Spanish and drive on the other side of the road. The post could use a Malvinas tag though. (the article doesn't even mention the word!) Geopolitically, it's about oil and fishing rights; but the oil should just stay underground and the fish left alone, with the depletion of fisheries and all that. In the end, I come to the same conclusion the inhabitants did – I just don't know what the Falklands really are about. The only lessons left to learn are the sad way that money can unmake community and that military governments are stupid. They could've had their Malvinas for free and they fucked it up. Morons.
posted by Tom-B at 8:49 PM on July 9, 2020 [9 favorites]

Nowadays, anti-colonial me thinks that sure, the Malvinas belong to Argentina.

I'm not sure what would be anti-colonial about transferring sovereignty entirely against the popular will of the inhabitants (who actually have some claim to be the "first people" of The Falklands as the only continuously resident human population in human history) to Argentina which is every bit as much of a settler colonialist state as the US. Frankly, Germans have more claim to Silesia than Argentina does to The Falklands and we don't go around casually entertaining those territorial claims either.

It is amazing though, isn't it, how stupid that war was?

They were so, so close to just having the islands handed over. Most Falklanders went to BA or Montevideo for medical treatment, quite a lot actually went for secondary school and university as well. What's not mentioned in the article is that as a result, quite a lot of them spoke at least some Spanish. Not only that, but they could possibly have won the islanders over after landing, instead they banned teaching English in schools.
posted by atrazine at 12:45 AM on July 10, 2020 [11 favorites]

> I'm not sure what would be anti-colonial about transferring sovereignty entirely against the popular will of the inhabitants

It's just the whole "British Empire" vibe, you know? Still a bit of a sore spot for us down here in the Global South, as they call it nowadays. The fish are still being caught, the oil may still get extracted, and the money will go north. Again. But like I wrote, actually reading about the place and the people living there makes me tend to agree with you.
posted by Tom-B at 5:26 AM on July 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

What an excellent article.
Falklands are Covid19 free with no new cases since end of April. These came in with British Armed Forces.
posted by adamvasco at 9:44 AM on July 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

From my Twitter buddy Ronnie MB
Thanks for the link - it's an interesting article - it identified some of the questions we face here - I do know people who genuinely feel threatened by all the changes going on - also, the prosperity is very unevenly spread and that could cause trouble down the line ...
posted by adamvasco at 11:01 AM on July 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

For an endearing personal view of the Falklands from a visitor, see Nell Stevens', Bleaker House, which is her chronicle of attempting to write a not-quite-thought-through novel on the old outer island of Bleaker. I was tickled to see that Bleaker Island is pictured in the NYer piece.
posted by SandCounty at 1:54 PM on July 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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