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From New Australia to the Guarani World – Australia’s early connections with Paraguay
ANCLAS invites you to join the Embassy of Paraguay and the ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at a roundtable discussion on Australia’s historical connections with Paraguay.
These connections date from the arrival a group of Australian settlers in Paraguay in 1893. Their intention was to establish a socialist utopian colony, New Australia, on land provided by the Paraguayan government. Despite the difficulties of climate and remoteness the colony gradually took shape. However, it soon became evident that some of the socialist ideas of the founders were incompatible with the lifestyles of Australians. Not least the requirement for abstinence from alcohol, white supremacy, no fraternising with locals, and marriage for life. Some of the original settlers set up another community at Cosme, 70 km father south. Others moved back to Australia or to other countries.
One of the descendants of the original settlers who remained in Paraguay was Leon Cardogan. Cardogan studied, wrote and became an authority on the Guarani people of eastern Paraguay and a champion for their right and aspirations. He was the author of the first Spanish- Mbya-Guaraní dictionary as well as studies of Guarani society, religion and culture. These publications remain to this day a unique and indispensable source of knowledge and scholarship about the Guarani people.
Another lesser known anecdote to emerge from the history of the Australian settlers who remained in New Australia and Cosme was the decision of many family members to volunteer for service in the First World War. Although they naturally acknowledged Paraguay as their new home, such was the strength of the links they felt with Australia and more broadly Great Britain. Indeed, of the half dozen families of the original settlers at Cosme, fourteen volunteered to join the war - practically every fit man.
The principal speakers at the roundtable discussion will be Raquel Rojas a visiting Paraguayan expert in communications, journalism and theatre who will reflect on the theme “From New Australia to the Guarani world” and Robert Barnes the author of Australia’s forgotten Soldiers from Paraguay: Stories of the New Australians who went to War. The event will take place at 11am on Tuesday 7 November in Room 128, AD Hope Building, 14 Ellery Crescent Acton ACT 2601.