Homogeneidad Y Nacion: Con Un Estudio De Caso: Argentina, Siglos XIX Y XX. (Book Reviews: Anthropology and History)

By Archetti, Eduardo | Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Homogeneidad Y Nacion: Con Un Estudio De Caso: Argentina, Siglos XIX Y XX. (Book Reviews: Anthropology and History)


Archetti, Eduardo, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


QUIJADA, MONICA, CARMEN BERNAND & ARND SCHNEIDER. Homogeneidad y nacion: con un estudio de caso: Argentina, siglos XIX y XX (Coll. tierra nueva e cielo nuovo 42). 257 pp., tables, plates, bibliogr. Madrid: CSIC, 2000. (paper)

The authors, one historian -- Quijada -- and two anthropologists -- Bernand and Schneider -- explore the ideological reasons, power mechanisms, and social processes that guided the policies of the Argentinian nation-state in the project of homogenizing its populations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The case of Argentina is interesting because, added to indigenous populations, creole/mestizos, Spanish and black inhabitants, the massive immigration of Europeans produced a complexity comparable only to the United States during this period.

In chapter 1 Quijada analyses the ideological 'paradigm of homogeneity' as historically developed in Argentina and other Latin American countries, showing that ethnic homogeneity as a base for modern nations was not only related to the expansion of education, the unification of the historical memory, the celebration of the post-colonial nation through elaborated public rituals, and the consolidation of a national language. The political elites searched for a nation integrated by 'citizens', autonomous and 'illustrated', that would legitimize the polity (the state). The idea of the 'people', a social abstraction, was thus related to the modern meaning of citizenship. This model of inclusion, however, left out populations that threatened the simple paradigm of cultural homogeneity: indigenous groups and blacks with their traditions and languages. In order to face heterogeneity, racial and ethnically mixed models were 'invented': the mestizo nation in Mexico, the 'caf'e con leche' in Venezuela, or the crisol of races with 'white European dominance' in Argentina.

The historical condition of indigenous populations in Argentina is discussed by Quijada in chapter 2. Historical memory in Argentina has erased the indigenous presence. In spite of the fact that they resisted military violence, and fought assimilation for long periods of time, the indigenous populations are supposed to have disappeared with the violent expansion of the frontier in the nineteenth century The ideology of an integrated and sovereign territory with a sedentary population devoted to agriculture did not admit other ways of life, and the colonization process was implemented in a discriminatory way, designed as a means of assimilating the native populations. Economic and social sustainability was not a priority of national policies. …

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