Author Archives: Oliver Marshall

What became of Mrs Ali? A Londoner in 1920s Calcutta

Calcutta, British India, 17th August 1921: “Mrs Muhammad Ali (alias Mrs Campbell), has been declared vagrant for being destitute. The Government of Bengal have issued orders for removal under the European Vagrancy Act.”

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What’s in a name? In the case of Brazil, Indiana, very little!

In southern Indiana, in the American Midwest, there’s town called Brazil. Throughout North America, settlements were often named after a place, almost always in Europe, to which the founders had links. When planning a road trip this summer, I noticed a “Brazil” on on my route. Naturally I was intrigued.

A glimpse of Missouri’s Amish

You can certainly get some sense of Amish life while casually driving around the backroads of Clark, Missouri….but I cannot remember feeling, anywhere else in the world, quite such an interloper…

A Swiss naturalist in Paraguay

In the forests of eastern Paraguay, the Swiss scientist Moisés Bertoni and his family settled in 1895 to create a farm and research station. Just a short distance from the famous Iguazú Falls, the site is today one of the most surprising parks and museum complexes in South America….

“Germans” and “Italians” in the highlands of Brazil’s far south

…if you can see beyond the kitsch representation of the Rio Grande do Sul’s German and Italian heritage, as well as past the very real contemporary struggles of the inhabitants, the Serra Gaúcha certainly has much to offer visitors…

From Trieste to Eldorado: an Austro-Italian pioneer in Argentina

Carlos Strehler was born in 1899 in the Austro-Hungarian port city of Trieste. He and his brother were tea merchants, selling to the new Balkan kingdoms. In the 1920s they decided to try their luck as tea planters in Argentina. This is his story….

“London, London”: Brazil’s Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil in exile – Part 3

After about a year in Chelsea, Caetano and Gil moved to Notting Hill, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood that attracted squatters, hippies, musicians and political activists. It was here where Gil was introduced to reggae music, which would have a lasting impact on him. From their new base, demand for Gil and Caetano was slowly growing in Europe and the USA, but both musicians hoped to return to Brazil as soon as possible….

“London, London”: Brazil’s Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil in exile – Part 2

At the end of July 1969, Caetano and Gil were put on a plane bound for Europe. After a brief stop in Lisbon, and a slightly longer stay in Paris, the duo made their way to London – then a global centre of pop culture. Soon they found a home in Chelsea where remained for their first year in exile….

“London, London”: Brazil’s Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil in exile – Part 1

In 1969 the young singer-songwriters Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were expelled from military-ruled Brazil. They made their way to London – then the global capital of youth culture – where they spent the next two and a half years in exile. [….] This, the first of of three blog posts, explains the background of Caetano’s and Gil’s departure from Brazil.

Zimbabwe’s lair of luxury

“Zimbabwe? Are you sure it’s safe?” In the weeks preceding my visit this question was asked of me time and time again, producing niggling doubts as to this wisdom of travelling to this southern African country. It was reassuring (and a little surprising) to learn that normally risk-averse United States travellers are Zimbabwe’s most important […]

Islands to islands: Caymanians in Nicaragua’s Corn Islands

This is the final part of a series about the Corn Islands – two small, beautiful and remote islands on the western edge of the Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua. Part 1 of the series (which can be found here) introduces the islands, while Part 2 (which can be found here) focuses on coconut […]