[Home] [Current Tables of Contents]

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]

Volume 64 / Humanities


Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay

JOAN SUPPLEE, Associate Professor of History, Baylor University
THOMAS WHIGHAM, Professor of History, University of Georgia


SCHOLARLY PRODUCTION ON early 19th-CENTURY Argentina has evidently experienced a dry spell over the last several years with relatively few new works to grace the bookshelves. We should, however, note that traditional strengths in political biography, rural life, and military history are represented, sometimes with superior results. Pasquali's political biography of the Santafecino statesman Nicasio Oroño (item #bi2006003516#) provides some new departures in a field previously dominated by Miguel Angel de Marco. Ternavasio's study of Porteño electioneering and voting patterns from independence to the fall of Rosas (item #bi2006003525#) demonstrates that popular elections could support as well as contradict a tradition of caudillismo in Buenos Aires. Ocampo's account of Carlos de Alvear's role in the Cisplatine conflict (1825–28) (item #bi2006003537#) turns out to be a far more comprehensive study of early politics in the national period that its title would suggest. And Ch. R. de la Croix-Riche Chanet has produced a tour de force (item #bi2006003532#), which, though spotty in places, nonetheless provides a mountain of information on three centuries of Franco-Argentine relations.

As in previous years, the analysis of ranching and rural politics has accounted for several significant works, including one article by Gelman (item #bi 2006001575#), one co-authored by Gelman and Schroeder (item #bi2005001442#), a compendium of materials on Rosista policies toward the Indians by Jorge Oscar Sulé (item #bi2006003539#), a fascinating analysis of the Felipe Senillosa family by Roy Hora (item #bi2005001441#), and a carefully wrought analysis of the Entrerriano countryside by Schmit (item #bi2006003522#).

Chamosa has authored an enlightening piece on the role of Afro-Argentine associations in post-independence Buenos Aires (item #bi2005001455#), while Cicerchia has taken the study of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento in a fruitful and entirely new direction in his study of "Don Yo's" visit to Algeria (item #bi2005002365#). [TW]

The production of Argentine history in this extended biennium has been particularly fruitful. Historians working on late-19th and 20th century topics have utilized old sources in new ways (item #bi2005004808#), while also discovering new sources that provide insights into complex political movements (items #bi2008004176# and #bi2008004177#). Works from this period also demonstrated an expanded field of perspectives and approaches, such as gender or media studies, that revealed new facets of frequently studied topics (items #bi2008004239# and #bi2008004248#). The impact of CONICET (El Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) in promoting new and innovative historical research in Argentina was increasingly significant. While no new encyclopedias on national history appeared, the Nueva Historia Argentina collection added a volume on the period 1976 to 2001 with the goal of bringing historical methods to bear on the discussion already under way by political scientists, sociologists, journalist, and popular historians (item #bi2008003421#). On the provincial level, scholars from Santa Fe, using new social history methods, produced a 12-volume encyclopedia (item #bi2008004200#). The major themes historians have taken up in articles, monographs, and edited volumes in this biennium include: democracy, development of party structures and political ideas, the Peronist era both before 1955 and in the 1970s, the role of guerrilla movements, links between provincial and national politics, operation of the Argentine economy, development of the legal culture, contributions of immigrant groups to the formation of Argentine identity, architecture and politics, new ideas about regionalism, and impact of the media (radio, films, posters, and other images) on Argentine culture and politics.

Scholars have continued to wrestle with the topic of democracy to understand its development or its failure to thrive in the Argentine milieu. Mario López's collection of essays tackled the successful political transformation from one-party rule to a pluralist system as a result of the Sáenz Peña Reform Law (item #bi2008000191#). Ana Teruel and María Silvia Fleitas examined how the Radical Party capitalized on workers' grievances to open up Jujuy's political system (item #bi2005004808#), while Leandro Losada explored the impact of late-19th century economic changes on democratization of the Argentine intelligentsia by 1910 (item #bi2008000696#). Other studies took a less sanguine approach to the operation of Argentine democracy. María Tato used the life of journalist Francisco Uriburu to trace disillusionment with, and ultimate betrayal of, democracy by Argentine liberals after the electoral reforms (item #bi2008004254#). Using a national lens, Luis Romero, who scrutinized Argentina's failure to construct a democratic culture (item #bi2008004250#), and Laura Alori and others (item #bi2008004185#), who traced increasing class conflict, struggled to explain why Argentina has not developed a successful political democracy.

In this biennium, historians investigated the political currents stirring in interwar Argentina. Associations between antifascists and communists on the one hand, and nationalists and Peronists on the other drew particular attention. María Victoria Grillo explored the connection between Italian immigrants in the 1920s and the emergence of the antifascist movement (item #bi2006001562#). In looking at the period from 1935 to 1955, Ricardo Pasolini (item #bi2007000521#) researched links between antifascists and communists, and Marcela García Sebastiani's edited volume connected antifascists to anti-Peronists (item #bi2008004236#). Luis Beraza's work on nationalists explained why they remained part of the intelligentsia instead of forming a political party and why they supported military repression after 1930 (item #bi2008004232#). Finally, María E. Spinelli analyzed the role of the anti-Peronists, socialists, radicals, and members of the nationalist movement who collaborated with the military government after 1955 and who then lost credibility when that government collapsed (item #bi2008004253#). All of these works provided new insights into the complex and tangled political system that developed in mid-century Argentina.

Historians continued to refine our understanding of the Peronist movement by viewing it from different perspectives: creation of Peronist legitimacy, strategies to build the party in the provinces, and weaknesses in the third administration. Three studies examine how Peronism became the legitimate political movement in Argentina. Juan F. Segovia grounded his analysis in Weberian principles as he documented how Perón unseated Argentine liberalism and replaced it with Peronism (item #bi2008004251#). In a similar vein, Marcela Gené analyzed popular media images produced and disseminated by the Peronists to legitimize the movement (item #bi2008004239#). Raanan Rein and Rosalie Sitman's book examined both sides of the legitimacy construct by analyzing not only how Peronism was imposed from above, but also how the opposition reacted (item #bi2008004249#). Much more has also been written on the party's establishment outside of the city of Buenos Aires. Dario Macor and César Tcach Abad compiled the most comprehensive study of this process, bringing together essays from all the interior provinces describing the first two Perón administrations (item #bi2006000431#). Their work demonstrates that provincial Peronist parties did not base their movement on labor as in the federal capital, but rather utilized the Church and the military. Other studies concentrated on individual provinces such as Neuquén and Río Negro (item #bi2006000412#) and Buenos Aires (item #bi2008000189#). Two studies focused on the creation of the Social Pact during Perón's third term: Carlos Leyba took an economic approach to the failure of the pact, while Juan Torre viewed it from the perspective of the labor movement (items #bi2008004242# and #bi2008004255#). One final innovative approach examined Peronism through the lens of gender (item #bi2008004248#). All of these works contribute to the ongoing process of refining and expanding the understanding of Peronism's impact on all aspects of Argentine society.

Another topic that appeared with greater frequency in this period was the popular movements (sometimes guerrillas, sometimes not) of the 1960s and 1970s. Not crafted by professional historians, these memoirs or testimonies will provide future historians material with which to analyze these movements. Notable in this genre were Alberto Lapolla's three-volume set on the leftist movement covering the years 1955 to 1976 (items #bi2008004240#, #bi2008004241#, and #bi2008003426#), Juan Mechoso's history of the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (item #bi2008003386#), Marisa Sadi's memoir of the Montoneros (item #bi2008004229#), César Avalos' study on the Ejército Guerrillero del Pueblo (item #bi2008000184#), and Julio Santucho's work on the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (item #bi2008000180#). One other study that strikes a new chord among the popular movement memoirs is the work by Guelar, Jarach, and Ruiz, who compiled compelling testimonies from those forced into exile during the dictatorship (item #bi2008004192#). All of these works provide a good starting point for more academic treatments of the process of mobilization and exile during the 1960s and 1970s.

In studies with a primarily provincial focus, scholars in this biennium continued to make important advances in understanding the relationship between national and provincial politics. Two studies, an article and a book, have situated Santa Fe province at the heart of national changes. Miguel Angel de Marco focusing on the period 1870 to 1910 charted provincial responses to rapid national economic growth and concluded that Santa Fe developed the model for public services that was then adopted at the national level (item #bi2008004203#). Susana Piazzesi analyzed Santa Fe politics during the 1930s and found that access to the province's presidential electoral votes played a critical role in the readmission of the Radical Party to the national electoral process in 1935 (item #bi2007000234#). José Antonio Sánchez Román also credited Tucumán's sugar industry success and extension of the rail line to Tucumán with consolidation of national government power (item #bi2005006042#). Beatriz Bragoni challenged the traditional view of national domination of provincial leaders in her study of Mendoza between 1888 and 1892 (item #bi2005004638#), while Pablo Buchbinder confirmed that local elites in Corrientes province never recovered power and influence at the national level lost during the decade of the 1860s (item #bi2005004742#). María Andrea Nicoletti used the territory of Patagonia to frame her study on the negotiation of power among the state, the Catholic Church and the Salesian order during the formative years 1879 to 1907 (item #bi2005004746#). All of these studies contribute to a deeper, more dynamic view of the relationship between provincial and national political relations.

Another approach that garnered attention in this period was organization of provincial labor. Using Bialet Massé's study on Argentina labor as their point of departure, Ana Teruel and María Silvia Fleitas traced how the Radical Party organized Jujueño workers to demand relief from the problems highlighted in the study. They also tied this political mobilization to establishment of Jujueño democracy (item #bi2005004808#). Looking farther south, Enrique Masés and Gabriel Rafart produced a second volume on Neuquén labor covering the period 1943 to 1958. Because sources are not widely available for labor in this period, he relied on oral interviews and official records of job related accidents to craft their study (item #bi2006000412#). Covering a similar time period, Gabriela Olivera examined agrarian labor in two communities in La Rioja. She traced how national economic trends affected laborers in the food and energy sectors of the local economy (item #bi2006000430#). Like studies on development of the Peronist Party in the provinces, these works provide a more complete picture of the impact of national economic trends on Argentine labor.

In a stepping away from political relations and labor, several studies in this biennium probed how provincial images were promoted or manipulated on the national stage. First among these is Héctor Jaquet's study of how travelers' views of Misiones province gave way to deliberate professional constructions by local historians or museum curators (item #bi2008000177#). Susana López examined how the Patagonia's image shifted during the period 1870 to 1914 depending upon who crafted the image and for what purpose (item #bi2008004210#). Finally, Mariana Giordano (item #bi2006001558#) analyzed views on the indigenous people of Chaco province in literature, art, photography, and official sources. As the government successfully pursued its policy of native pacification, the image of native as victim gained ground and justified the government's shift toward authoritarian paternalistic policies that encouraged integration. All of these studies break new ground by using traditional sources in new ways to clarify the relationship between policies and ideas.

Finally, Juan M. Palacio's innovative research took provincial/local history in a new direction by probing the social and political impact of development of the legal culture in Buenos Aires province between 1890 and 1945. Two of his selections are reviewed this biennium. His article focused on the role of rural lawyers (item #bi2005002681#), while his landmark monograph advanced his argument by crediting the evolving system of local law and practice with preserving peace as the economic changes converted small landowners into renters (item #bi2008004217#).

Several works received during this period launched serious challenges to the standard treatment of regions in Argentina and in the Southern Cone. The most significant of these is the book edited by Mario Rapoport and Amado Cervo (item #bi2008004196#). In it, various authors from Argentina and Brazil addressed the concept of the Southern Cone and used it to view the entire region from the colonial period to modern times. In a similar fashion, researchers from Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia studied the triborder region as a single unit based on the economy, state formation, and ethnic conflicts (item #bi2008004201#). On a smaller scale, Susana Bandieri (item #bi2006000411#) argued for examining Patagonia as a single region in terms of indigenous policy, frontier expansion, and economic policy, while Ana Teruel's study on northwest Argentina, particularly the areas of Salta and Jujuy (item #bi2008003430#) made a compelling case for defining region on the basis of economic links not political lines. In moving beyond traditional political boundaries, these studies have opened up fruitful avenues of investigation that relate physical spaces in new ways.

Argentina's immigrant past and present continues to be a popular subject for investigation, but the focus of that literature shifted in this biennium. While there remained a robust production of immigrant hagiographies (see items #bi2008004186#, #bi2007003244#, #bi2008004190#, and #bi2008004191#), more scholars shifted toward analyzing how immigrants contributed to the formation of modern Argentina, and in particular, to its democracy. María L. Da Orden's study of Spanish immigrants to Mar del Plata is a good example of this trend (item #bi2008004182#). Alejandro Fernández took a different approach by researching national government efforts to couple immigration to formation of a yeoman farmer class and how that link broke down during 1929 economic crisis (item #bi2006000033#). One other study deserves note for its comparative approach to immigration: Fernando DeVoto's article matched French and Argentine migration policy toward less desirable immigrants from the 1850s to the 1950s (item #bi2006000034#). All of these works are evidence that immigration scholars are moving to place immigration with other broad trends in Argentine history rather than simply study immigration per se.

Several new themes in Argentine history have emerged in the selections for this biennium. Joel Outtes used Foucault's methods to reveal how city planners in Brazil and Argentina manipulated public space to maintain social order and solidify state control (item #bi2007003249#). Two works deepened understanding of the Perón era by focusing on the government's activities with regard to urban planning and architecture (items #bi2008004176# and #bi2008004177#). Fernando Cacopardo traced the evolution of city planning in Mar del Plata from 1874 to 1950 and looked at how prosperity led to social integration, and indirectly, to development of a democratic society (item #bi2008004179#). By using sources not generally utilized by historians, these studies provide new insights into how spatial organization affects politics, social mobility, and the rise of democracy.

Other innovative studies of note produced during this biennium include those that focused on the media, public health, and economic issues. Media studies produced three different works: a study of the relationship between advertising and politics in the 1930s (item #bi2005005008#), an analysis of the publishing industry from 1880 to 2000 (item #bi2008004189#), and a fascinating study of the radio's impact on Argentine society from 1923 to 1947 (item #bi2008004194#). In an expansive study, Juan Suriano and Daniel Lvovich examined development of the state's involvement in public health, education and housing from 1870 to 1952 (item #bi2008004212#), while Ricardo González Leandri's study concentrated on expansion of the state through the development of the National Department of Hygiene from 1880 to 1900 (item #bi2005006684#). Marina Kabat provided new insights on the shift from craft to industrial production in Argentina with her study of the shoe industry from 1870 to 1940 (item #bi2008004181#). Finally, Gerardo Marcelo Martí challenged interpretations of the economic crisis of 1890 by looking at the operation of the provincial banks. He concluded that those banks did not cause the crisis by lax lending; instead, he found the press and government opponents exacerbated the crisis by claiming the government failed to control monetary emissions (item #bi2006000008#).

One last item of note for this period is the emergence of more studies based on oral history. In general, the goal of these works is to restore or revalue marginalized groups' place in the national story. Walter Delrio's study rescued indigenous efforts to survive and defend their land in Patagonia (item #bi2008004202#). Silvia Waskiewicz used oral histories to challenge official history of a massacre in Misiones province in 1936 and to establish that human rights violations did not start in 1976 (item #bi2008004223#). Carina Moljo focused on the attitude of social workers in the 1960s and 1970s to professionalization, social action, and political militancy (item #bi2008004246#). As mentioned previously, Guelar, Jarach, and Ruiz produced a study on exiles from the dictatorship (item #bi2008004192#). As the 1960s and the 1970s recede further into the past, historians will draw more on these types of studies and oral sources to challenge and rewrite official histories. [JS]


While scholarly writing on Argentina has seemingly cooled down of late, with Paraguay, the situation is exactly the opposite, with several works of considerable merit highlighting a fairly ample production. Durán Estragó's biography of Vicente Antonio Matiaúda (item #bi2006003524#), though based on slim evidence, still offers an excellent start at understanding the confusing period of the 1810s and 20s. Even more exciting is Ribeiro's account of the relation between Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar de Francia and the Oriental chieftain José Gervasio Artigas (item #bi2006003531#)—a topic usually obscured by the reiteration of tall tales, but which Ribeiro filters through a far more modern lens. [TW]

The production of historical works during this biennium has been modest for the late 19th century. Notably scholars focused on resistance movements during the Stoessner regime and development of Paraguayan nationalism (item #bi2008000153#). [JS]


Though Uruguayan scholarly production has been somewhat weaker than that noted for Paraguay, there are works that deserve mention. Topping this list is Fucé's unusual account of a 1789 murder case in Colonia del Sacramento (item #bi2006003538#), followed by Piñeyro's attractive history of Montevideo's Pocitos district (item #bi2006003544#). [TW]

The historical literature from Uruguay during this biennium followed the same trajectory of that of Argentina. There was increasing attention on guerrilla movements from the 1970s (item #bi2008004229#) and some memoir production on recent economic history (item #bi2008004227#). [JS]

Go to the:

Begin a Basic Search | Begin an Expert Search

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]

Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian (07/09/14)