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Fractured Identities: The Politics of Culture in Argentina
Spring Semester 2001

Instructor:    Thomas M. Edsall, Ph.D.

Required Texts & Readings:  
1) Hernández, José.  Martín Fierro.
2) Martínez, Tomás Eloy. Santa Evita.
3) Scobie, James Argentina: A City and a Nation.
4) Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino, Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism in the Age of Tyrants.
5) Shumway, Nicholas. The Invention of Argentina.
6) ON RESERVE  A large number of articles, texts, cartoons, photos, short stories, etc. will be placed on reserve to supplement required texts.

Welcome to CSIS/LAS 298—Fractured Identities: The Politics of Culture in Argentina!

The goal of this interdisciplinary Latin American Studies course is to explore the evolution of Argentina’s fractured national identity through a discussion of its history, politics, and culture from Independence to the present.  The class will focus on the divisions between liberals and nationalists, Buenos Aires and the countryside, and elite and folk culture. These topics will be addressed chronologically through historical, political and literary texts, lectures, and discussion.  The exhaustive interdisciplinary study of these political and cultural divisions will enable the student to gain an understanding of the complexities involved in the formation and development of a unique Argentine political culture. In turn, a study of the historical, political and literary perspectives of these divisions will help explain how one of the richest countries of the world at the beginning of the 20th century stagnated and fell into brutal dictatorship.  The time period covered will be from 1810 to 1982.

Method of Evaluation: 

  • Participation-Attendance   10%
  • Discussion Leadership      15%
  • Mid-Term Examination     20%
  • Final Examination              30%
  • Research Paper               25%


Academic Dishonesty: The College of the Holy Cross Code of Conduct prohibits all forms of academic dishonesty. In conformance with college policy, no form of cheating will be tolerated in this course. At the instructor's discretion, the students who are believed to be violating this policy will be questioned immediately.  Possible consequences will be a grade of zero on the assignment, course failure, and/or referral to judiciaries.

Participation-Attendance (10%)
This component takes into account a number of variables including but not limited to:  1). Your participation in class discussions of the readings and class materials; 2). Your willingness to participate in class; 3). Your respect and attitude towards the class and your peers.  Active participation is a must! You are expected to be in class on time, and to be prepared. Your participation will be evaluated on a weekly basis. 

Presentation-Discussion Leadership (15%)
Students will sign up to make a short presentation and lead the discussion of the theme or texts of class. This will require research of the theme of that class and the preparation of questions that will lead the class discussion.  Some themes will require co-ordination with the professor.

Mid-Term Examination (20%)
Short essay examination concentrating on the 19th Century.

Final Examination (30%)
The examination will consist of identifications, short essays, and one long essay.

Final Research Paper—Outline, Bibliography and Draft (25%)
Part of the intensive writing aspect of this course involves the creation of a detailed annotated bibliography and a detailed outline on a topic selected by the student. The selection of a topic and the compilation of a bibliography including primary and secondary sources will be conducted with the help of the professor.  The student’s task will be to write a detailed major research paper using both secondary and primary resources [20-25 pages in length] on the interaction of culture and politics in either 19th or 20th Century Argentina.  Given Argentina’s deeply rooted political, social, and cultural divisions, intellectuals generally developed a clear political stance either for or against the status quo. This research paper should show how intellectuals responded to a polarized and factionalized political environment by using culture to influence politics or to examine some aspect of how intellectual production was influenced by politics.

Attendance Policy
In order to successfully complete any course a student must be in class. Attendance is required.  However, it is understood that periodically things happen that prevent your attendance.  Thus you will be allowed TWO ABSENCES throughout the semester.  After accumulating two absences in a semester your final grade will be dropped by a half-letter grade.  This of course takes into account officially documented absences with a valid written excuse (e.g., doctor's appointment, funeral, etc.).



Class Theme

Time Period to Be Discussed


January 16

Introduction to Argentina, Discuss the Course, and Review Syllabus

Argentina Today


January 18

Overview of Class Themes: Regional, Class, Cultural, and Political Divisions of Argentina. 

Nineteenth and Twentieth Century

Scobie, Argentina, Chapters Two and Three.

January 23

Independence for Buenos Aires and the Provinces: The Roots of the Divide.


Shumway, The Invention of Argentina, Chapter One.

January 25

Juan Manual Rosas: Brutal Dictator or National Hero?


Scobie, Argentina, Chapter Four.

January 30

Discussion:  The Slaughterhouse and Selected Chapters of Civilization and Barbarism


On Reserve: The Slaughterhouse.
Sarmiento: Civilization and Barbarism, Chapters One and Two.

February 1

The Liberal Exiles (Unitarios):  The Opposition to Rosas, Their Beliefs, and Their Plans for Argentina


Shumway, The Invention of Argentina, Chapters Five and Six.

February 6

Discussion:  Civilization and Barbarism and the Liberal Mindset.


Sarmiento: Civilization and Barbarism, Chapters Three, Four and Five.

February 8

The Liberals in Power: Argentina Transforms but at What Cost?


Scobie, Argentina, Chapters Five and Six.

February 13

The Nationalist Response:  Martín Fierro and the Defense of the Gaucho.


José Hernández, Martín Fierro.

February 15

Elite Buenos Aires Culture vs. Working Class Culture


On Reserve: Edsall, The Buenos Aires Jockey Club and the Invention of an Aristocracy
Scobie, Argentina, Chapter Seven.

February 20

Discussion:  Elite Culture, Cosmopolitanism, and European Influence.


On Reserve:  Packet on Elite Culture.  Will include biographies, pictures, etc.

February 22

Discussion: Popular Culture. Gaucho culture, the Tango, Immigrant Buenos Aires


On Reserve:  Packet on Popular Culture.

February 27

The Coup:  1930s Corporatism and Authoritarianism.


On Reserve:  Packet on Nationalism.

March 1




March 13

Discussion:  The Gaucho Revindicated and Cultural Nationalism.


On Reserve:  Readings re. Gauchos and Provincial Culture.

March 15

First Perón Administration: Golden Years or Fascist Dictatorship?


On Reserve:  Readings on Perón

March 20

Discussion: Who was Perón and the Legacy of Evita?


Tomás Eloy Martínez, Santa Evita

March 22

Second Perón Administration


On Reserve:  Readings on Peronism

March 27

Discussion:  Perónism and Culture


Tomás Eloy Martínez, Santa Evita

March 29

Argentina in the 1960s


On Reserve: Chapters from Dossier Secreto

April 5

Discussion: Culture in the 1960s


On Reserve: Cartoons, Section from How to Read Donald Duck, etc.

April 10

Perón’s Return:  Triumph or Traged?


On Reserve: Chapters from Dossier Secreto

April 17

Discussion: Guerrilla Mentality


On Reserve:  Che Guevara, Moyano, The Lost Patrol, etc.

April 19

The Dirty War


On Reserve:  Chapters from Dossier Secreto.

April 24

Discussion:  The Dirty War, Culture, and the Military Mentality


On Reserve:  Readings

April 26

Argentina Today