In Buenos Aires, Researchers Exhume Long-Unclaimed African Roots

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-06-17 01:21Z by Steven

In Buenos Aires, Researchers Exhume Long-Unclaimed African Roots

The Washington Post

Monte Reel

BUENOS AIRES — Their disappearance is one of Argentina’s most enduring mysteries. In 1810, black residents accounted for about 30 percent of the population of Buenos Aires. By 1887, however, their numbers had plummeted to 1.8 percent.

So where did they go? The answer, it turns out, is nowhere.

Popular myth has offered two historical hypotheses: a yellow fever epidemic in 1871 that devastated black urban neighborhoods, and a brutal war with Paraguay in the 1860s that put many black Argentines on the front lines.

But two new studies are challenging those old notions, using distinct methods: a door-to-door census to determine how many Argentines consider themselves black, and an analysis of DNA samples to detect traces of African ancestry in those who consider themselves white.

The results are only partially compiled, but they suggest that many of the black Argentines did not vanish; they just faded into the mixed-race populace and became lost to demography. According to some researchers, as many as 10 percent of Buenos Aires residents are partly descended from black Argentines but have no idea.

“People for years have accepted the idea that there are no black people in Argentina,” said Miriam Gomes, a professor of literature at the University of Buenos Aires who is part black and considers herself Afro-Argentine. “Even the schoolbooks here accepted this as a fact. But where did that leave me?”…

…”Argentina was interested in presenting itself as a white country,” said George Reid Andrews, a history professor at the University of Pittsburgh who has specialized in black history in Latin America. “Its ideologues and writers put a great emphasis on the yellow fever epidemic and the war, and it was feasible to pretend that the black population had simply disappeared as immigration exploded.” …

… But personal definitions do not count when analyzing DNA, which is what a group of scientists from the University of Buenos Aires and Oxford University in England did earlier this year. After collecting blood samples at a local hospital, they searched for genetic markers that indicate African ancestry. The results, to be published this year in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suggested that 10 percent of those who identified themselves as white were, in part, descendants of black Argentines.

“A lot of people were very surprised by this,” said Francisco R. Carnese, a geneticist at the University of Buenos Aires and co-author of the study. “When you walk around Buenos Aires, you don’t see signs of African ancestry. But you see it in the genes.” ..

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Blackout: How Argentina ‘Eliminated’ Africans From Its History And Conscience

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science on 2013-06-17 00:27Z by Steven

Blackout: How Argentina ‘Eliminated’ Africans From Its History And Conscience

International Business Times
New York, New York

Palash Ghosh, Senior Writer, World

Tens of millions of black Africans were forcibly removed from their homelands from the 16th century to the 19th century to toil on the plantations and farms of the New World. This so-called “Middle Passage” accounted for one of the greatest forced migrations of people in human history, as well as one of the greatest tragedies the world has ever witnessed.

Millions of these helpless Africans washed ashore in Brazil—indeed, in the present-day, roughly one-half of the Brazilian population trace their lineage directly to Africa. African culture has imbued Brazil permanently and profoundly, in terms of music, dance, food and in many other tangible ways.

But what about Brazil’s neighbor, Argentina? Hundreds of thousands of Africans were brought there as well—yet, the black presence in Argentina has virtually vanished from the country’s records and consciousness…

…But blacks did not really vanish from Argentina – despite attempts by the government to eliminate them (partially by encouraging large-scale immigration in the late 19th and 20th century from Europe and the Near East). Rather, they remain a hidden and forgotten part of Argentine society.

Hishaam Aidi, a lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, wrote on Planete Afrique that in the 1950s, when the black American entertainer Josephine Baker arrived in Argentina, she asked the mixed-race minister of public health, Ramón Carilio: “Where are the Negroes?” In response, Carilio joked: “There are only two—you and I.”

As in virtually all Latin American societies where blacks mixed with whites and with local Indians, the question of race is extremely complex and contentious.

“People of mixed ancestry are often not considered ‘black’ in Argentina, historically, because having black ancestry was not considered proper,” said Alejandro Frigerio, an anthropologist at the Universidad Catolica de Buenos Aires, according to Planete Afrique.

“Today the term ‘negro’ is used loosely on anyone with slightly darker skin, but they can be descendants of indigenous Indians [or] Middle Eastern immigrants.”

AfricaVive, a black empowerment group founded in Buenos Aires in the late 1990s, claimed that there are 1 million Argentines of black African descent in the country (out of a total population of about 41 million). A report in the Washington Post even suggested that 10 percent of Buenos Aires’ population may have African blood (even if they are classified as “whites” by the census).

“People for years have accepted the idea that there are no black people in Argentina,” Miriam Gomes, a professor of literature at the University of Buenos Aires, who is part black herself, told the Post.

“Even the schoolbooks here accepted this as a fact. But where did that leave me?”

She also explained that almost no one in Argentina with black blood in their veins will admit to it.

“Without a doubt, racial prejudice is great in this society, and people want to believe that they are white,” she said. “Here, if someone has one drop of white blood, they call themselves white.“…

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New Latin American pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio not a person of color?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Religion on 2013-03-21 19:47Z by Steven

New Latin American pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio not a person of color?

New York Amsterdam News
New York, New York

Courtenay Brown, Special to the AmNews

The installation of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I on March 13 caused a stir of questions regarding his race. Yes, he was the first pope from Latin America, but should he be considered the first pope of color?

By definition, a “person of color” is an all-encompassing, typically American term that categorizes non-whites, which include Asians, Indians, Native Americans, Blacks and Latinos.

This classification may work in the U.S., but it does not function so well in Latin America. According to a study by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 31.4 percent of immigrants to Argentina came from Spain, while 44.9 percent came from Italy from 1857 to 1940. This helps quantify just how many immigrants came from these specific countries as opposed to other places in Europe.

Pope Francis’ own parents were immigrants to Argentina. Since the children of two Italian citizens are legally regarded as Italian no matter where they are born, according to Italian legal tradition, Pope Francis is technically regarded as Italian.

According to Argentina native Martin Pereyra, a law student at the University of Buenos Aires, many Argentines would not identify as people of color because of the great deal of European influence in the country. The country is often even nicknamed the “Paris of South America.”

“I don’t think we have just one ‘color,’” Pereyra said. “But at the same time, we are considered Latinos.”…

…So while prescribing to a single “race” is far from a universal concept for the Latino community, Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, professor in the Chávez Department of Chicano/a Studies at the University of Central Los Angeles (UCLA), believes that Bergoglio should be considered Latino and thus a person of color—despite the pope’s Italian roots. According to Hinojosa-Ojeda, using lineage to determine who is Latino would “eliminate a large part of Latin America and a lot of Latinos,” he told LA Weekly last week.

“More important is the experience, not the genetic background,” he continued…

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Argentina: Land of the Vanishing Blacks

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-09-22 19:55Z by Steven

Argentina: Land of the Vanishing Blacks

Ebony Magazine
October 1973
pages 74-85

Era Bell Thompson

Once outnumbering whites five to one, blacks were absorbed and inundated by massive immigration

“If you are looking for black people, why,” they asked helpfully, “did you come to Argentina? Why don’t you go to Brazil?”

Well, I had been to Brazil (Ebony July, September 1965), the “most mulatto” nation in South America, hopefully in the process of becoming white through amalgamation. Now I was in Argentina where massive European immigration was the catalyst that converted an erstwhile mixed-blood people into the whitest nation on the continent.

I had read that there were no more blacks in that Spanish-speaking country. But I had also heard rumors of a small black colony in Buenos Aires, the capital. So what happened to Argentina’s involuntary immigrants, those African slaves and their mulatto descendants who once outnumbered whites five to one, and who were for 250 years “an important element” in the total populations which is now 97 percent white? Had they been entirely absorbed by, or simply inundated in successive waves of the new Argentines?

What I found was not a viable, but a vanishing black people: relatively few in numbers, relatively free of racial discrimination and relatively content. Summarized one gentleman, “If there were more of us, perhaps it would be different.”

The white Argentine, who is overwhelmingly of Italian and Spanish descent, doubts there ever were many blacks in their section of the old Rio de la Plata viceroyalty and are unaware of those still within their midst. The ranks of the few slaves channeled into the port of Buenos Aires, they believe, were decimated largely by disease and war. The survivors who did not emigrate to neighboring countries were absorbed by the mestizos.

The question of what happened to Argentine blacks is not a new one. Ysabel P. Rennie, author of the book. The Argentine Republic, calls it “one of the most intriguing riddles of Argentine history.” In his book, Argentina, a City and a Nation, James R. Scobie says “the disappearance of the Negro from the Argentine scene has puzzled demographers far more than the vanishing Indian.”

When Josephine Baker visited the country during Juan Peron’s first term as president, the entertainer asked Dr. Ramon Carrillo, mulatto minister of public health, “Where are the Negroes?”

“There are only two,” he laughingly replied. “You and I.”

My first impressions of Buenos Aires were: the man was right. In Buenos Aires, the city, and Buenos Aires province, where the preponderance of the entire population is found. Afro-Argentines, especially the fair-skinned ones, and not easily distinguishable from Latin-type whites. And then there is a matter of definitions. The terms Negro and mulatto are still used, but with slightly different connotations. Negro (small ‘n’) is the Spanish word for black. It took me some time to get used to hearing négro sprinkled throughout conversations that had nothing to do with race. Mulatto (or moreno) is an African-Spanish mixture, as differentiated from mestizo, which technically means only Spanish-Indian, but more often than Argentines care to admit, includes an admixture of black blood. Zambo (not Sambo) means African-Indian, but the term—if not the practice which produced it—has been discontinued, as have the names of two social classes: the gaucho, now cowboy, and cabecitas négras, or little black heads, as people fresh in from the provinces were once called. A Creole is an Argentine-born white.

When I posed Josephine Baker’s question, the average creole could recall only a doorman here or a porter there. Brown people who were not mestizos were Brazilian tourists. A secretary in a government office said she was 16 before she saw a black man. Fortunately, I did not have to wait that long…

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Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science on 2012-09-22 17:19Z by Steven


The Argentina Independent

Laura Balfour

As a descendant of two slaves, Maria Lamadrid has a hard time biting her tongue when airport officials think her Argentine passport is not real because ‘there are no blacks in Argentina’.
And that was in 2002.
The 25th of March marks the landmark 200th anniversary of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. Though the trade continued after this date, it marked the beginning of the end of the transatlantic trafficking of Africans.
Ms Lamadrid is fighting to alter the common belief that all blacks who live in Argentina are foreigners. In 1997 she founded Africa Vive, a non-governmental organisation that defends the rights of African descendants. Today, she claims, there are 2m Afroargentines in Argentina.
Ms Lamadrid and Miriam Gomez, a history professor at the University of Buenos Aires, have dedicated themselves wholly to the NGO’s cause because “there is so much to do and very few people to do it.”…

…Africa Vive has requested that a separate category for African descendants be reintroduced in the 2010 census. Ms Lamadrid said the most frustrating thing is that there used to be one: 1887 was the final year that Afroargentines were recognised in the census; the results showed that 2% of the residents of Buenos Aires were of African descent at that time. She added that indigenous people, who have also suffered discrimination, have their own category because they have more support…

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The reawakening of Afro-Argentine culture

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2012-09-22 16:13Z by Steven

The reawakening of Afro-Argentine culture

Global Post

Anil Mundra

Descendants of slaves are starting to assert their identity but it’s not easy in South America’s whitest country.

BUENOS AIRES — “Liberty has no color” read the signs held outside a Buenos Aires city courthouse. “Arrested for having the wrong face,” and “Suspected of an excess of pigment,” said others. And more to the point: “Enough racism.”
A black street vendor was allegedly arrested without cause or proper procedure earlier this year, prompting this August hearing of a habeas corpus appeal. But leaders of the Afro-Argentine community say this moment goes beyond any particular man or incident, calling it a watershed case that brings to trial the treatment of blacks in Argentina.
“It’s not about this prosecutor or that police officer, but rather an institutionally racist system,” said Malena Derdoy, the defendant’s lawyer.
Argentina is generally considered the whitest country in South America — 97 percent, by some counts — possibly more ethnically European than immigrant-saturated Europe. There was once a large Afro-Argentine presence but it has faded over the epochs. Now, for the first time in a century and a half, Argentine descendants of African slaves are organizing and going public to assert their identity…

…At the beginning of the 1800s, black slaves were 30 percent of the population of Buenos Aires, and an absolute majority in some other provinces. The first president of Argentina had African ancestry, and so did the composer of the first tango. Even the word “tango,” like many other words common in the Argentine vocabulary, has an African root; so do many beloved foods, including the national vices of the asado barbecue and dulce de leche.
The abolition of slavery was a slow process that spanned the better part of the 19th century. At the same time, under the government’s explicit and aggressive policy of whitening the race — to replace “barbary” with “civilization,” in the famous phrase of the celebrated president Sarmiento — Afro-Argentines were inundated by European immigration, the largest such influx in the Americas outside of the United States. Blacks had dwindled to only 1.8 percent of Buenos Aires by the 1887 census, after which their category was replaced with more vague terms like “trigueno” — “wheaty.”

“It’s part of Argentine common sense that there are no blacks, that their entire culture had disappeared toward the end of the 1800s,” said anthropologist Pablo Cirio. “That’s all a lie.”…
…The survey was performed with help from the national census bureau and World Bank funding, at the urging of local Afro-Argentine activists who hoped to have the “Afro-descendant” category re-inserted into the Argentine census in 2010 and count themselves as a distinct segment of the populace after a century missing. Soon afterward, DNA tests of blood samples in several Buenos Aires hospitals bolstered the pilot census’ result with a very similar percentage of genes traceable to Africa. Moreover, a much higher number — about 10 percent — was obtained by testing mitochondrial DNA, which traces maternal ancestry. This is consistent with the historical conjecture that many black men were lost after being sent to the frontlines of 19th-century wars, and Afro-Argentines assimilated into the white population when the
remaining women mixed with the hordes of European males who had come to Argentina to work…

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Black into White in Nineteenth Century Spanish America: Afro-American Assimilation in Argentina and Costa Rica

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2012-08-09 01:45Z by Steven

Black into White in Nineteenth Century Spanish America: Afro-American Assimilation in Argentina and Costa Rica

Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies
Volume 5, Number 1 (May 1984)
pages 34-49
DOI: 10.1080/01440398408574864

Lowell Gudmundson, Professor of Latin American Studies and History
Mout Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

In his masterful study of racial attitudes in Brazil, Thomas Skidmore has shown how the Brazilian elite consciously preferred, and pursued through the foment of European immigration after 1850, a “whitened” society in which the African element would be progressively reduced. Given the historical realities of Brazilian society such a policy could perhaps be implemented, but only with great regional variability and never fully eradicating what the elite saw as the “inferior” African element represented by Negro and colored (mulatto) Brazilians.

Such a semi-official policy of whitening was common to both Luso– and Hispanoamerican elites of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the curious symbiosis of a paternalistic acceptance of race mixture and its “beneficial” impact (unlike segregationist or apartheid views in the United States and South Africa at that time), and a belief in the innate inferiority of those of African descent (in this they shared the basic racism of the abovementioned societies). However, most Spanish American societies, just as northeastern Brazil, would not receive the mass of European immigrants who inundated the Brazilian southwest, or such Spanish American nations as Cuba, Uruguay, and Argentina. And yet, except for those areas continuing the African slave trade (Cuba and Brazil in particular) nearly everywhere there was a long term proportional decline, over the nineteenth century, of the Afro-American population, whether through race mixture and “passing“, or simply as a result of a decreasing Afro-American biological component within the general population. Thus, the desired goal of the Brazilian and Spanish American elites – “whitening” or bleaching” of the population—did not always require massive European immigration for its realization.

While modern Spanish American society was whitened in general, regional experience was extremely diverse. The Indo-American areas of Mexico, Guatemala, and the Andean republics produced a mestizo more often than a mulatto population, with all such admixtures coming to be referred to as “casta”, “ladino”, or simply “mestizo”, with some mention of phenotype appended for clarification if need be. In these Indo-American areas the numerical predominance of the Indian population during colonial times, especially in the Guatemalan and Andean countrysides, meant that whitening of the general population would proceed very slowly there if at all during the nineteenth century, although Afro-American assimilation took place much more rapidly…

…Race Mixture

While miscegenation has been characteristic of all multiracial societies to one degree or another, Latin American experience has been notable in both the pervasiveness of this phenomenon and, more importantly, in the position accorded to those of mixed origin. Hoetink most clearly expressed this point, regarding the dual features of widespread “passing” across an ill-defined “color line” and the social acceptance of those of light color by local Iberoamerican whites as marriage partners. In these societies the local defmition of whiteness tended to include many of those of light color and, just as importantly, marriage or long term common-law unions (as distinct from more informal or surreptitious concubinates and liaisons) across what in other contexts would be perceived as racial lines (white vs. colored) was far more frequent.

Thus, added to the quite requent extramarital unions spanning racial lines, Latin American societies also witnessed the growth of a significant population born to both Church-sanctioned and common-law unions between Afro-Americans and the non-colored. The frequency of this latter phenomenon varied widely by time and place perhaps, but it was an ubiquitous feature of Latin American societies and could reach quite substantial levels in some cases, as we shall see below.

In both Argentina and Costa Rica there is abundant evidence of the existence of such a relatively flexible “color line”, subject to surprisingly rapid redefinition over time, even in the case of individual lifetimes. Moreover, it is worth noting that exactly the same terminology is used to describe cases and individuals in Argentina and Costa Rica in the freeing of “white slaves” or in describing the physical appearance of these individuals when still enslaved. Andrews notes the use of terms such as “white mulatto, white, white slave” in manumission documents, as well as descriptions emphasizing “blond” or “straight” hair and white color. In Costa Rica references were repeatedly made to “whiteness” or “amber” coloration (“trigueño”, exactly as in Buenos Aires and other Spanish American countries somewhat later) as well as “burnt blond hair”, etc. Moreover, the use of color identification as a means of implicitly raising or lowering an individual’s social rank was also a common feature of contemporary discourse, in reference to those of high and humble social, albeit racially suspect background.

Perhaps one of the clearest possible indications of the decided tendency of Iberoamerican society to classify light-coloreds as white can be found in the late colonial Costa Rican censuses. Therein the population is divided and enumerated as “Spanish”, “Mestizo”, or “Mulatto and Negro”. However, no clear and binding descent rule is used in order to assign the children of mixed unions. Most often, when the mother was “mestiza” or Spanish and the father Afro-American, the children would be registered in the mother’s racial category, although there were exceptions to this rule as well. In the case of Afro-American women married to or living with Indian, mestizo or Spanish males their children would usually be listed with them as “mulatos y negros”, but even here exceptions could be found, logically enough since their listing as mestizos could have been socially and administratively advantageous for them.

Miscegenation may have been most common outside of formal unions such as these, but more stable, recognized relationships were very frequent as well, involving all racial groups in Spanish American society. As we shall see below, Afro-Americans’ urban location and the feminine predominance which resulted from this fact, when added to pervasive racial preferences in the selection of marriage partners, assured that this group would have the most difficult and delayed access to marriage. In societies in which concubinage was the rule rather than the exception at all social levels, this could only foment extramarital miscegenation as well. Indeed, nearly all of the studies of Afro-Americans in urban Latin America would indicate “whitening” in the selection of both marriage and liaison partners to have been the norm.” In Costa Rica illegitimacy among the Afro-American population was approximately double the average, reaching the level of a third to a half of all Afro-Americans baptized and a fifth to a quarter of all illegitimate baptisms at the end of the colonial period; this without taking into account those children not baptized and likely illegitimate as well. Important here too was the urban location of Afro-Americans, raising illegitimacy levels regardless of race, contributing to the differentiation of the community from mestizo villagers and lowering its replacement capacity. Presumably, a large number of these illegitimate children were the result of race mixture tending toward whitening…

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Blackness in Argentina: Jazz, Tango and Race Before Perón*

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2012-07-25 02:05Z by Steven

Blackness in Argentina: Jazz, Tango and Race Before Perón*

Past and Present
Volume 216, Issue 1 (August 2012)
pages 215-245
DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gts008

Matthew B. Karush, Associate Professor of History
George Mason University

On the question of race and nation, the dominant Latin American paradigm has never applied to Argentina. In Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere, twentieth-century nationalists crafted ideologies of mestizaje that broke with European and North American models by celebrating the indigenous or African as crucial elements in a new racial mixture. Yet most Argentine intellectuals rejected this sort of hybridity and instead constructed national identities that were at least as exclusionary as those produced by their North American counterparts. The only mixtures they countenanced were those that followed from European immigration. Just as the United States was a ‘melting pot’, Argentina was a crisol de razas (crucible of races), in which Spaniards, Italians and other immigrant groups were fused into a new nation. This ideology, visible in the well-known aphorism that ‘Argentines descend from ships’, marginalized Argentines of indigenous and African descent and eventually erased them from national consciousness. As George Reid Andrews showed over thirty years ago, the alleged disappearance of the once-substantial Afro-Argentine population of Buenos Aires was at least as much the product of this ideological manoeuvre as it was the result of miscegenation, war and disease. Only recently has Argentina’s status as a white nation begun to be openly contested.

Nevertheless, even if non-whites have been pushed off the historical stage, race remains a pervasive category in Argentine society. The word ‘negro’ is a commonplace in everyday speech, functioning both as a hateful insult and, paradoxically, as a term of endearment. Equally mysteriously, the insult usually alludes to indigenous rather than African ancestry. Typically, these usages are traced to the Peronist era. During his first two terms in office (1946–55), Juan Perón built a powerful working-class movement that challenged the nation’s hierarchies. Perón’s opponents attacked his followers in racial terms, labelling them cabecitas negras (little blackheads)…

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A 30 Percent of Mixed Race Component in Argentina’s Population

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-05-05 02:07Z by Steven

A 30 Percent of Mixed Race Component in Argentina’s Population

Agentina Investiga: Divulgación y Noticas Universitarias
Universidad Maimónides
Facultad de Ciencias Médicas

Adrián Giacchino
Departamento de Prensa
Universidad Maimónides

The research of a team formed by anthropologists, biologists, biochemists and archeologists proves that the autochthonous contribution in Argentina’s population might be of a 30%. The results of the work, emerged from an analysis of blood donors in diverse regions of our country, indicate that there is a 65% of European component, a 30% Amerindian and a 5% African. Amerindian lineage is mainly maternal, decreases as we come close to the city of Buenos Aires and increases towards the north and the south.

How many times we have heard that in Argentina “we come from the ships…” and that we are “a melting pot”. This is believed by many people and it was written many times and even legitimated as valid knowledge. But, do we really come from the ships and are we a real melting pot?

“What exists is the mythology that we are white and European –indicates to InfoUniversidades Dr. Francisco Raúl Carnese, who is in charge of the laboratory of Biological Anthropology of the University-. However, our population is mixed. The native composition is very striking, especially in maternal ancestry, which increases towards the north and the south and it is also very important in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, particularly in the suburbs. We have the need to “bleach” populations, but the concept of “melting pot” is questioned. The populations’ genetics showed that there is no continuity between human populations, that the biological variations are of continuous nature. Races do not reflect biological reality, but are social constructions…

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The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800–1900

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2012-04-08 22:10Z by Steven

The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800–1900

University of Wisconsin Press
November 1980
308 pages
6 x 9, 15 illus. or photos, several tables
ISBN-10: 0299082903
ISBN-13: 978-0299082901

George Reid Andrews, Distinguished Professor of History
University of Pittsburgh

George Reid Andrews has given us a major revision and reconstruction of black history in Argentina since the time of independence, making an exciting and important contribution to both Latin American and Afro-American history. Along the way, he explodes long-held myths, solves a major historical mystery, and documents contributions of blacks to a society that has, in its pursuit of “whiteness,” virtually denied their existence.

While historians have devoted much attention to Afro-Latin American slavery of the colonial period, Andrews is among the first to examine the history of the post-abolition period. He illuminates the social, economic, and political roles of black people in the evolving societies of the national period, effectively destroying the myths that the Afro-Argentines virtually disappeared over the course of a century, that they played no significant role in Argentine history after the independence, and that they were quietly and peacefully integrated into the larger society. While similar studies have been carried out for the black experience in the United States, this is the first such attempt for any Spanish American country.

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