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A remittance man is a historic term for an emigrant, often from Britain to a colony, supported by regular payments from home, on the expectation that he stay away [...]

Historian Monica Rico describes in Nature's Noblemen: Transatlantic Masculinities and the Nineteenth-Century American West (2013) how the figure emerged in the 1880s: "Unable to succeed in Britain [...] the remittance man represented the utter failure of elite British masculinity to function in the modern world." Where he was to go was a wide-open question. The British Empire offered wide-open spaces and possibilities of redemption in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and colonial parts of Africa; some thought the American West was also an appropriate destination. Rico concludes that "the remittance man, in his weakness, symbolized his culture's fear that British masculinity was imperiled both in Britain and abroad."

[...] They were "everlasting sources of enjoyment and personal gain" for the tough ranchers and early colonists, "the natural butt of the cowboys' jokes". Remittance men were held in scorn by all, even "solid contempt", and were considered easy marks by conmen and tellers of tall tales. Some, however, won redemption by, for example, joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Yukon.

by das monde on Mon Jan 7th, 2019 at 02:52:52 PM EST

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