More than 40 people participated in the presentation of A Trip to the Colonies. Memoirs and Diary of a Scottish Sheep Rancher in Malvinas, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (1878-1898) by IDEAL Center researcher, Alberto Harambour.
The book, A Trip to the Colonies. Memoirs and Diary of a Scottish Sheep Rancher in Malvinas, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (1878-1898), written by Dr. Alberto Harambour, a Magellanic historian, researcher at the Research Center Dynamics of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL), and professor of the University Austral of Chile, was launched on Tuesday, April 4. The book was recently published by the Diego Barros Arana Research Center and the DIBAM.
More than 40 people participated in the event, which was held at the Punta Arenas branch of the IDEAL Center. The work was presented by Carlos Vega Delgado, writer and editor, and Ivette Martínez, retired professor, Master in Social Sciences, of the University of Magallanes with a specialization in heritage.
The text includes the memoirs of William Blain, a young Scot who participated in the colonization of Malvinas and Patagonia and the conquest of Tierra del Fuego. His journey as a sheep rancher contributed to the expansion of an industry that led to the demise of the indigenous people.
“Blain was a sheep rancher who participated in the initial installation of sheep sovereignty around Punta Dungeness, and his experience there was recorded in a diary and a memoir. He later became the sub-administrator of Tierra del Fuego. There he participated in the so-called ‘Indian hunts’. He gave orders to capture the Selknam population,” explained Harambour.
The author added, “This text allows us to understand the establishment of the ranches as an act of colonial occupation because there was a concrete plan by the States, the Catholic Church, and the ranchers to eradicate the local natives. It is a process of destruction of a form of indigenous sovereignty, and in this, the key forces are private, with the passivity of the states. Although the violations to the basic rights of these human groups were known, for example, the stewards of justice chose to ignore their humanity”.
Dr. Harambour began researching in 2012, when he caught wind of a journal found by William Morrison and Duncan Campbell. He traveled to the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, after which he, along with Mario Azara, transcribed and translated the documents that gave life to this, Harambour’s first book. This is the only report written by a worker about the sheep colonization of Malvinas and the occupation of Selknam territory. In fact, Blain’s diary is the only written record made by a sheep rancher in Patagonia at the end of the nineteenth-century.
“This story allows us to reflect on the fact that the forms of colonization of Patagonia were very fast and destructive compared to what happened with the rest of the Chilean and Argentine territory,” Harambour concluded.