Tag Archives: Buenos Aires

“Hunting Men”: Migration, Racial Discrimination, and Military Conscription in the Río de la Plata

Posted by Keyanah Freeland, PhD Student Department of History


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As I noted in my last entry, the Biblioteca Nacional de Uruguay houses a collection of Afro-Uruguayan periodicals spanning the mid-nineteenth century well into the twentieth. For the past few weeks, I have been conducting research there, parsing through the periodicals of the late nineteenth century in order to track the social, cultural, political, and intellectual exchanges between Afro-Uruguayans and their Afro-Argentine counterparts living in Buenos Aires. While the periodicals continue to confirm my aforementioned insights around the relationship between the making of diaspora and intellectual production, they also have revealed new developments around the contentious relationship between the Uruguayan state, the Afro-Uruguayan communities living in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and the rationale behind the significant numbers of Afro-Uruguayans emigrating across the Río de la Plata at the turn of the twentieth century.

In June and July of 1889, the Afro-Uruguayan periodical, El Periódico, published extensive accounts of the Centro Uruguayo’s various celebrations of Uruguay’s national independence, written and sent back to Montevideo by their own correspondents in Buenos Aires. Founded in 1884, the Centro Uruguayo functioned as a mutual aid society for Afro-Uruguayans who had immigrated to Buenos Aires. Despite the relatively short institutional history of this mutual aid society, the 1889 coverage of the center suggests a strong political and social presence in Buenos Aires. According to El Periódico’s published reports, the center’s festivities not only attracted Afro-Uruguayans and Afro-Argentines alike, but in a brilliant act of political theatre —or perhaps protest— members of the center even visited the current President of the Uruguayan Republic, General Máximo Tajes, as he visited Buenos Aires.

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Spring 2015 Colloquium: Latin American Independence in the Age of Revolution

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On February 23rd, CLACS inaugurates its Spring 2015 Colloquium Series “Latin American Independence in the Age of Revolution” with a lecture by Sergio Serulnikov, Director of the Graduate Program in History at the University of San Andres in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His talk, titled “La crisis del orden colonial en Hispanoamérica,” will address crucial theoretical and methodological issues in the political history of Latin American independence. Professor Serulnikov contests scholarly positions that point to 1808 as the starting point of the colonial crisis after the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. Serulnikov, who is also a researcher at the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de la Argentina (Conicet), maintains that in order to understand Hispanic America’s different responses to the Spanish Kingdom’s debacle one needs a local, integrated, and long term view of these processes. This lecture and the reception to follow will be held at the Deutsches Haus starting at 6pm.

This lecture is part of a Research Colloquium which combines a graduate level course with a lecture series. The event series brings top scholars from around the world to present current research to the NYU community as well as the general public. CLACS Faculty members Sinclair Thomson and Sybille Fischer are co-teaching and spearheading the Spring 2015 Research Colloquium.

The colloquium features an interdisciplinary approach that “explores Latin American independence through readings in political history, political theory, and cultural studies,” said Professor Thomson. Special attention will be given to “primary sources (including chronicles, philosophical disquisitions, pamphlets and propaganda, speeches, constitutions, travelers’ accounts) and the distinctive and complementary aspects of historiographic and literary approaches.” Thomson adds that, “a broad awareness of historical context and careful attention to historical texts can yield revealing new understandings of the past.”

The February 23rd talk will be followed by “When the New Conquered in Latin America: Newness and Value in the Era of Independence,” with Victor Goldgel- Carballo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on March 2nd. Goldgel’s talk is also at the Deutsches Haus. On April 13th, the Colloquium moves to the KJCC Auditorium where Marlene Daut, Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University, will speak on “Race and the Transatlantic Print Culture of the Haitian Revolution, 1789-1865.” Two weeks later, on April 27th, novelist and professor at Goucher University, Madison Smartt Bell will give a lecture titled “Desalines Disembodied.” On May 11th, our closing lecture of the series will be “Bolívar as Slaveholder, the Image of 1815, and the Myth of Abolition,” by Michael Zeuske of Universität zu Köln, Iberische und Lateinamerikanische Abt./ Historisches Institut.

To register for the February 23rd lecture please click here. For more information about the Colloquium series, and other upcoming events, click here to join our mailing list for weekly updates.

Exploring State-Civil Society Interactions in Buenos Aires

Philips - Argentina - asignacion universal

ANSES relies heavily on technology. Each of the recipients I interviewed first learned about the program by TV advertisements. Those who qualify can enroll and set appointments via text message.

It is hard to believe how fast my month of research passed. While in Buenos Aires, I worked at a local ANSES office to learn about the effects of Asignacion Universal por Hijo (AUH), a conditional cash transfer, on women’s empowerment. Interviewing recipient women brought me to see that, in many cases, the grant helps empower a recipient woman by way of strengthening her identity as a mother and enhancing her sense of self-fulfillment. Recipient women told me again and again how AUH helped them to feel that they could now be the mother they had always hoped to be. With the help of the grant, a woman is able provide the food, school supplies, clothing, and other basic needs for her children. The women I interviewed emphasized that they want the best for their children, and without the financial help of the grant each month, many recipient families cannot always afford many things for their children, including a balanced diet or clothes and shoes that properly fit. While the monetary value of the grant is small (about 40 USD per child), the impact it has on low-income families is substantial. With the grant, many families find that they can afford send the children to school where they will learn, make friends, and grow up equipped to be in a better economic position than the previous generation.

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“Me Siento Mas Boliviano Que Nunca”: Interviews and Observations on the Soccer Field

For my final research post, I wanted to share a bit about one of the most important parts of my project: to conduct both interviews and participant observation with a Bolivian soccer league in Buenos Aires. As with much of my research, where exactly this would take place depended much on the contacts I made and where they led me. Dr. Manuel Cervantes at FUNCRUSUR connected me with Augustin Flores, who brought me to two different parks: Parque Avellaneda y Parque Roca. My first day there, I talked with several “mesas de directores,” where the league leaders keep the paperwork and such. The first day, I completed some general interviews about basic organizational structures and took a lot of pictures.

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Me with Rigoberto (committee leader) and Pedro (president) of the Asociacion Deportiva Guaqui.

Two weeks later, I returned to the Parque Avellaneda to talk more formally with the president and committee leader of the Asociacion Deportiva Guaqui, Pedro and Rigoberto. The Asociacion Deportiva Guaqui (ADQ) includes mainly members from the town of Guaqui near Lake Titicaca, following the normal pattern of groups made up of individuals from the same region of Bolivia. Continue reading

Understanding “la colectividad boliviana” in Buenos Aires Within a Greater/Global Context

Benedict Anderson, best known as the author of Imagined Communities,  asserts that newspapers can provide the “technical means for ‘re-presenting’ the kind of imagined community” that an immigrant community has created – in terms of my project, that the Bolivian community has created in Buenos Aires. Therefore, one of the facets of my research is to analyze the newspapers that are created for and by the Bolivian community to determine how they cover and describe sports. However, as most things tend to happen, this hasn’t gone exactly how I had planned. (Foreshadowing: it’s been better!)

First, I came to Buenos Aires with a list of about six Bolivian newspapers that I had found by scouring the web for mentions of them (as many don’t have an online presence). Upon arriving and speaking with Dr. Manuel Cervantes, he informed me that all but two of them were out of business. Luckily, he just so happened to be on the editorial board of one of those two (funny how these connections work!) so he set me up with a meeting with another editor. A few days before that interview, I googled Bolivia Unida and came up with not only their website, but their facebook page. The most recent post immediately caught my attention – there was going to be an academic conference at the Universidad Nacional de San Martin entitled “Seminar about Migrations, Cultural Identity, and Human Rights: The Actuality of Immigrants in Argentina.” Oh hey! That’s precisely what I’m looking at! I scrambled to fill out the registration form (this is around 11pm on Wednesday night, and the conference was on Friday) and prepared myself for my first international conference.

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Searching in Buenos Aires: a Story from the Field on Hunting for Contacts, Answers, and Conclusions


Ready for a bus ride across town.

Last year’s Tinker grant recipients stressed the importance of persistence while in the field. For the most part, I’ve been getting in touch with exactly the contacts I’d been hoping to find, but some people have been more difficult to track down. What really brought me to my research question, whether or not Asignacion Universal por Hijo empowers women, was an annual report put out by a private organization indicating that deaths from domestic violence are on the rise in Argentina. I wondered if this had any connection to the implementation of AUH, so I come to Buenos Aires with high hopes of meeting with the director of the organization. She was quite difficult to hunt down, but when I finally did get to meet with her, she shared some great information with me. Persistence in the field really does pay off! 

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I got in touch with a woman named Majo who has a great network of people working on social programs and women’s rights in the local area. Majo has been an incredible help in getting me directly connected with all the right people. I had tried calling and emailing the research organization several times with no response. Majo had not been able to get in touch with anyone at the center either, so she suggested that I accompany her to her weekly meeting the last two Wednesdays. Every week, the Buenos Aires Legislature hosts a meeting of approximately 35 women’s rights-based organizations where these groups can collaborate, plan events and awareness campaigns, and all stay in touch about developments in women’s rights in Argentina. Majo said that the founder of the research organization attended this weekly meeting, so I was excited to finally have an in. Continue reading

Álbano Rodríguez y Jesús Borrego Gil. Más sobre los orígenes de la ‘Pp [‘Patafísica porteña]. Ps [Parte segunda]

Misiones 385 por txabela, en FlickrMisiones 385, sede de la fundación del IAEPBA. Hoy, gracias a las incansables gestiones del LIAEPBA, este histórico lugar está debidamente señalado: la candela verde se ha diseñado siguiendo los estándares más modernos, y el número ocho se ha girado 180 grados para evocar el signo del infinito, pero esta vez, en lugar de puesto en pie, boca abajo.


Es posible que Álbano Rodríguez y Juan Esteban Fassio fueran amigos de la infancia. El caso es que, tres años después de que Fassio se hiciera miembro del Collège de ‘Pataphysyique, Rodríguez hizo lo mismo. Rodríguez trabajaba en el Ministerio de la Guerra, aunque pronto abandonaría su trabajo para dedicarse de lleno a la escritura, a la traducción y, evidentemente, a la ‘Patafísica, si es que ésta se puede separar de las actividades anteriores. A pesar de que había frecuentado, como Fassio, las reuniones del grupo surrealista de Pellegrini, Rodríguez no parece haber sido miembro de ningún otro grupo literario o artístico antes de su entrada en el Collège. Fue después cuando empezó a publicar y a desarrollar su actividad de creación y de investigación. Desde entonces, escribió extensamente para las revistas de Collège, publicó traducciones de Queneau, Jarry, Julien Torma y Malcom de Chazal en revistas como la cubana Ciclón o la belga Temps mêlés y fue antólogo y traductor de un libro de cuentos de Alphonse Allais [1]. En 1987, tres años después de su muerte, el Collège publicó, por primera vez, sus Hipnagogías, frases que le arrancaba al sueño y que dictaba, en esa mezcla de sueño y vigilia, a su mujer, Eva García, suponemos que en el mismo estado.

Pero todo esto pasó mucho, mucho después. Es muy probable que nada de esto hubiera sucedido si, en 1957, los dos amigos no se hubieran decidido a fundar el IAEPBA [Instituto de Altos Estudios Patafísicos de Buenos Aires]. Hasta ese entonces, no existía ninguna estructura patafísica fuera del Collège en sí y, mucho menos, una estructura que éste reconociera como legítimamente patafísica. Todo estaba por hacer y, por ello, Fassio y Rodríguez pidieron un aval a sus compañeros franceses. Y lo recibieron: nada menos que del Doctor Sandomir, primer vice-curador del Collège -el cargo más alto en la jerarquía colegial después del propio Faustroll-, y contemporáneo de Jarry. El mensaje, dirigido “a los miembros argentinos del Colegio con motivo de la solemne inauguración del Instituto de Altos Estudios Patafísicos de Buenos Aires”, cierra su Opus Testament Pataphysicum. El texto es breve: “¿Hay que desear que la ‘Patafísica exista en Buenos Aires?”, se pregunta el vice-curador. Su respuesta: “Ya existía aquí como en todas partes antes de que nosotros existiéramos y no necesita de ninguno de nosotros. Existirá siempre y no necesitará de nadie. Ni siquiera necesita existir. Pues no está obligada a existir para existir”[2]. Tan magnánimo mensaje bastó para que los dos porteños se supieran legitimados: el 6 de abril de 1957, en el 385 de la calle Misiones, Fassio leyó el mensaje en voz alta y, “a las 18 horas puntual”, quedó fundado el IAEPBA. Es probable que el nombre proviniera de una idea anterior de Fassio, que había querido fundar un centro de estudios sobre Sade en Buenos Aires, bajo el nombre Instituto de Altos Estudios Sádicos de Buenos Aires.
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The Politics of Empowerment in Buenos Aires

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A poster describing how to enroll in AUH.

My work is on a social program in Argentina called, Asignación Universal por Hijo para la Protección Social (AUH), a conditional cash transfer (CCT) implemented by presidential decree in late 2009. Under the program, the government uses a portion of income tax and sales tax to provide monthly transfers to poor families that are unemployed, informally employed, or who do domestic work and make less than a livable wage. Families receive $160 pesos (roughly $40 USD) per child ages 0-18, for up to five children. The money is given directly to the mother each month and is received under the condition that the family verifies children’s school attendance and medical checkups. It is designed to incentivize education for the poor population and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty via human capital accumulation.

In addition to drastic inequality and high rates of poverty, Argentina has a high rate of domestic violence. My work is focusing on whether transferring the money directly to mothers is empowering to women by giving them more financial control, helping them leave abusive homes, etc. or limits female agency by reenforcing traditional gender roles and providing a point of contention between a husband and wife regarding household finances. If there are negative consequences associated with the distribution system of the grant, a change in the structure of the policy could reduce domestic violence and save the lives of women. If the current system empowers women, there could be good reason to continue and expand the program. It could also incentivize collaborative work on finding additional funding sources.  Continue reading

Juan Esteban Fassio. Orígenes de la ‘Patafísica porteña [‘Pp] – Parte primera [Pp]*

Cadenas Canon - Argentina - 'PataphysicsPermítaseme vincular, a modo de conclusión, la Patafísica con el budismo Zen. Si se le preguntara a un maestro zen-patafísico “¿cuál es el verdadero sentido de la frase sobre el cocodrilo?”, se echaría a reír y nos golpearía varias veces con su bastón de física. No existe verdad fuera de la experiencia patafísica.

Juan Esteban Fassio, Creador-Fundador del IAEPBA, Regente de trabajos prácticos rousselianos, Proveedor Propagador de los Países platenses de Mesembrinesia Americana, Administrador Antártico y Gran Competente de la Orden de la Gran Guidouille [o espanziral].


La historia es así: un joven argentino, más bien solitario, lee un día de principios de los 50 o finales de los 40, en la Nouvelle Revue Française, un artículo sobre la fundación, en París, del Collège de ‘Pataphysique. El joven, que además de ser francófono es, entre otras muchas cosas, dibujante, se empieza a interesar por esa sociedad de pensadores de la que nadie en Buenos Aires ha oído hablar hasta entonces. Su nombre es Juan Esteban Fassio, “inventor, imaginero, ensayista, dibujante, traductor, compilador, patafísico, bibliófilo y pensador heterodoxo”, y es, aún hoy, una figura más bien desconocida en el panorama cultural argentino. Salvo, claro está, entre los lectores de Julio Cortázar, que le dedica su “De otra máquina célibe”, con foto incluida en la primera edición de La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos.

A Jarry ya se lo había leído en Buenos Aires: lo muestra un artículo en Martín Fierro, en enero de 1925. Pero para Fassio, como buen patafísico, Jarry no es más que una excusa para hablar de “la ciencia” y hacer que otros lean sobre ella. Así, en 1954, aparece en Letra y línea, revista de corte surrealista dirigida por Aldo Pellegrini, su “Alfred Jarry y el Colegio de ‘Patafísica”. Y el artículo no empieza con Jarry, sino con otro raro, sin duda más cercano al Río de la Plata: “Hay obras que desafían todo ‘ensayo de explicación’, que resultan incómodas de ubicar en las historias de la literatura. El tomo que lleva el título Obras completas de Lautréamont, con sus dos partes todavía contradictorias para la crítica […], constituye una constante provocación”. Lautréamont será una constante en la ‘Pp [recordemos: ‘Patafísica porteña]: años después, otras dos figuras clave, Albano Rodríguez y Eva García, se mudarán a Montevideo para realizar una investigación sobre el escritor franco uruguayo. Fruto de esa investigación será la biografía Isidore Ducasse, Comte de Lautréamont, firmada por otro ilustre del Collège, François Caradec, “avec la collaboration de Albano Rodríguez”. A fin de cuentas, no es de extrañar: entre los 27 volúmenes de la bibioteca del Doctor Faustroll, Jarry había incluido, nada menos que en el número 13, Los cantos de Maldoror. Continue reading

Crossing Boundaries, Crossing Disciplines

Garrido - Argentina - Stoppani by Copi

Drawing by Argentine writer, actor and cartoonist Copi in homage to his close friend Juan Stoppani -materials like this give as a hint of the links and the fruitful exchanges among these Argentine exiles in France.

My second interview during my stay in Buenos Aires was with Juan Stoppani, another relevant artist from the Instituto Di Tella who moved to Paris by the end of the sixties. As a member of Groupe TSE, created by Alfredo Arias, Stoppani started a career as a costume and stage designer. Throughout the seventies and the eighties, Stoppani continued to work in theater under the direction of Jean Louis Barrault, Jerôme Savary, Roland Petit, and Jorge Lavelli, among others. The curtain he designed for the play Le frigo by his close friend Copi, in 1984, attracted a great deal of interest.

After many decades of living abroad, Stoppani returned to Buenos Aires and lives now in a sort of Mundo Stoppani, an old beautiful house in the neighborhood of La Boca, fully renovated according to his personal style and peopled by works of art -all of them his own creations- dispersed in every single room, in every single wall. Continue reading