Secondary Cities of Argentina: The Social History of Corrientes, Salta, and Mendoza, 1850-1910

Secondary Cities of Argentina: The Social History of Corrientes, Salta, and Mendoza, 1850-1910

Secondary Cities of Argentina: The Social History of Corrientes, Salta, and Mendoza, 1850-1910

Secondary Cities of Argentina: The Social History of Corrientes, Salta, and Mendoza, 1850-1910

Synopsis

This study of three Argentine provincial capitals introduces a new concept in Latin American urban studies: the historical role of secondary cities, settlements large enough to possess all the elements commonly associated with urban areas and yet too small to figure among a country's major cities.

The principal contribution of the book is to explain how and why smaller cities grew. What determined and shaped their growth? How did local inhabitants, and especially the dominant social elites, react to internal and external influences? To what extent were they able to control growth? What relationships developed with the surrounding regions and the outside world?

The study shows that secondary cities linked rural economies and inhabitants with the outside world while insulating the traditional rural environment from the changing character of large urban centers. In this intermediate position, economic relationships and social structure changed slowly, and only in response to outside innovations such as railroads. Continuity within the secondary centers thus reinforced conservatism, accentuated the gap between the major cities and the rest of the country, and contributed to the resistance to change that characterizes much of Latin American today. The book is illustrated with photographs and maps.

Excerpt

The idea for Secondary Cities of Argentina emerged from Jim's longterm interest in the urbanization process in Argentina. His research in the late 1950's on wheat in Argentina(Revolution on the Pampas: a Social History of Argentine Wheat, 1860-1910) and the writing of a general political and economic history of Argentina in the 1960's (Argentina: a City and a Nation) convinced him that one could not understand Argentina without understanding its capital, the city of Buenos Aires. This conviction led to an in-depth study of that city. As he said in his preface to Buenos Aires: From Plaza to Suburb (1974), the evolution of Buenos Aires "symbolizes and explains much of Argentine development." the economic prosperity in Argentina during the late nineteenth century benefited Buenos Aires, not the rest of the country. "The city dominated the nation."

As Jim neared completion of the Buenos Aires book, he looked ahead to his next project -- a cross-national study comparing the commercial-bureaucratic Buenos Aires to two other economically similar cities, one in the United States and one in Australia. He read a considerable amount of Australian and U.S. urban history and began corresponding with historians in Australia. Eventually, however, he decided instead to investigate Argentine secondary cities. He increasingly believed that the story of the giant metropolis of Buenos Aires did not explain the whole of the urbanization process in Argentina. Other cities, though they depended on Buenos Aires to a large degree, had led an independent life of their own. Thus began the Secondary Cities study.

For this research, Jim was interested in exploring the use of the computer, despite the fact that he considered himself almost too old (at age 41!) to undertake retraining as a historian. Initially he relied on the . . .

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