About this blog

The World Elsewhere is a blog by Oliver Marshall focusing on unexpected places, communities and individuals.

I’m interested in migration, minorities and borders – how these developed and how they’re sustained. I love travelling and am always excited when I find a Bosnian neighbourhood in St Louis, Missouri, Ukrainian churches in rural Brazil, a Bhutanese shop in Paris or a Maltese café near my home in London.

Maps inspire my daydreams. My eyes tend to drift towards imperial relics such as the likes of Melilla (a Spanish enclave in northeastern Morocco), Daman and Diu (former trading posts in what was once a remote corner of Portuguese India) and Tristan da Cunha (one of Britain’s last – and certainly most remote – overseas territories, its 21st century term for “colony”) and geo-political oddities like the charming-sounding (but probably deadly-dull) Most Serene Republic of San Marino and the (not-so serene) self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria. Maybe one day I’ll make it to these places….if so I’ll write something….

About me

I live in London and have worked there with oral history projects and at a community advice centre in North Kensington and Notting Hill, an area of west London long associated with West Indian, Spanish and Moroccan communities. I’m a volunteer with the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and over the past few years have been told of struggles to remain in Britain of countless people faced with deportation to Eritrea, Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Jamaica, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I’ve written guide books (I was a long-time author of the Rough Guide to Brazil) and travel articles on various parts of the world. I’ve also published academic books and I’m a research associate of King College London’s Brazil Institute. I’m especially drawn to the study of international migration  immigrants and refugees – you might want to take a look English, Irish and Irish-American Pioneer Settlers in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (hardly a catchy title, but at least you get a sense of what the book’s about!) and also (with Darién J. Davis) Stefan and Lotte Zweig in South America.

Coming sometime soon….blog posts on….
British remnants in Uruguay
Caymanians in Cuba’s Isle of Pines/Isle of Youth
Colonia Victoria – a British agricultural settlement in Argentina


Feel free to or email at oliverdmarshall@gmail.com



  1. Dorothy Doyle · · Reply

    Oliver, I knew nothing about these Brazilian musicians. Are you writing a book about them? I’m glad FACEBOOK transported me to your very interesting blog!


    1. Thanks, Dorothy! Although Caetano and Gil are huge in Brazil (and in a few European countries), they’re little known in the UK or US. In recent years there’s been an interest in the US and the UK (and elsewhere) in so-called “world music” (Malians with strange stringed instruments, etc!), but these (and other) Brazilians just don’t fit that mould. And they don’t really have any equivalents in Anglo-American world. There are, of course, people who started out in the 1960s and still are still performing although they’re now in their 70s. But Gil and Caetano are different – they’re still very creative and (in Brazil) are almost as popular with young people as they are with people of their own age.


  2. Really great read about Caetano and Gil’s time in London, bravo! I’ve been living here for a few months now, originally from Ireland, but working in West London, formerly in Bayswater and now on Sloane Avenue, around the corner from the Sixteen Chapel. Its amazing how the Kings Road has changed since their time there. I’ve a Brazilian fiance, hence the interest in Brazilian culture and music, and really appreciate the music of Caetano, Gil, Chico Buarque and all of their generation. Currently reading a very interesting biography of the 80’s Rock Nacional movement, Brazilian punk culture and the very strange tale of the English-born Ritchie who went from Tropicalia hanger-on to become a massive 80s pop sensation in Brazil. There’s an article in there I’m sure, if I can find a bit of time to write. Going to read your piece on the Serra Gaucha now as I’ve been there recently. Parabens!


  3. What an interesting blog! When I visit cemeteries (as one does) I look for what family historians call “strays”: people from elsewhere. It makes you think about who they were, why they left, and how they got along afterwards.
    Thanks for the pointer to your blog. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your nice comment! I’m completely with you as far as cemeteries go – I guess bizarrely in some people’s minds, they’re some of my favourite places….indeed I’m about to Germany where I plan to spend quite a lot of time in cemeteries…..


  4. I know, the cemetery thing even strikes me as bizarre and I do it!
    I have my own basic cemetery rules.
    1. Typically only look at headstones 100 years old or more.
    2. I am watching for 3 or 4 particular things, depending where I am. These are:
    a. Particularly old people or early burials in that particular place;
    b. Soldiers found outside official military sections;
    c. People from elsewhere; and
    d. People who are famous, unusual, or just have something different and interesting.

    I had to come up with guidelines or I’d never leave.

    Safe travels and hope Germany is a good trip.


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