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Volume 5.2 1997
ISSN 1048-3721
This page was last updated on 03/15/99



Jeane DeLaney

In recent years, some of the most interesting literature on immigration has focused on the relationship between national identity and attitudes toward immigrants in the host society.2 How members of the receiving country construe nationhood—how they imagine what nations are and what holds them together—shapes how they understand the role of immigrants in the national community. By establishing the criteria for membership, the definition of a nation’s identity inevitably defines who can belong to the national community, on what terms, and what meanings are attached to belonging. Such questions lie at the very heart of how different societies receive immigrants and treat minority communities within their boundaries.

William Rogers Brubaker’s recent comparative study Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany is particularly helpful in elucidating the links between national self-understanding and attitudes toward the immigrant. Contrasting France’s traditionally open citizenship policies with Germany’s highly restrictive naturalization laws, Brubaker traces the roots of these differences to distinctive understandings of the nation. Within the French tradition, according to Brubaker, the nation is understood in predominantly political terms. That is, it is conceived as an association of citizens who voluntarily embrace a common political creed and participate in a wider French culture. "Frenchness," he notes, "is acquired, not inherited."3 In Germany, in contrast, the nation is conceived as an ethnocultural community, bound by blood ties rather than by common political traditions. At a certain level, Germanness is based on descent rather than voluntary participation, and is inherited rather than acquired. Both models of nationhood invest immigrants with certain roles. The French model views immigrants as individuals who will, almost inevitably, accept French political and cultural traditions and seek to become naturalized. In Germany, in contrast, immigrants of non-Germanic descent are not expected to seek naturalization, since their ancestry bars them from membership in the larger ethnocultural body.

While the histories of both the French and German ideals of nationhood have proved more complicated than this dichotomous schema suggests, Brubaker’s models provide historians with a useful tool for understanding the links between national identity and views of the immigrant. This essay draws upon his insights in examining the relationship between changing ideas about nationhood and changes in attitude toward the immigrant in Argentina during the period 1810–1930.4 It charts a shift, occurring at the turn of the century, not only in the way significant numbers of Argentines began to think about the content of their own national culture and traditions, but also in their more general understanding of what it meant to be a nation. During much of the nineteenth century, educated Argentines—inspired by France’s example—had understood their nation to be a political association open to all who embraced a common political creed and worked for the welfare of the nation. By the opening decades of the twentieth century, however, a significant group of young intellectuals, known in Argentine historiography as cultural nationalists, began to espouse a vision of the nation that more closely resembled the ethnocultural conception of nationality common to Germany.

Although the members of this movement were limited to a small core of young intellectuals, cultural nationalists proved influential because they most forcefully articulated ideas that were already gaining currency among educated Argentines. In such diverse publications as the mainstream paper La Nación and cultural journals such as Ideas, Nosotros, Hebe, Sagitario, Estudios, Renacimiento, Verbum, Valoraciones, Revista argentina de ciencias politicas, El monitor de la educación, and Revista de filosofía, contributors warned of the dangers of cosmopolitanism and discussed the need to defend la raza argentina from the threat posed by massive European immigration. Fears about the loss of national identity and the idea that Argentines formed a distinctive ethnocultural group threatened by foreign influences were constant and pervasive themes of the cultural debates of the period.

This shift in how growing numbers of educated Argentines understood nationality inevitably brought with it new attitudes toward the immigrant. At first blush, the implications seem obvious. When nationality is conflated with ethnicity, all voluntaristic elements disappear, and membership in the national community is a question of descent rather than assent or territorial residence. Within this understanding of nationhood, people cannot choose or acquire their nationality: one either is or is not an Italian, Spaniard, or Croat. Individuals who reside within national borders, but who belong to other ethnic groups, can perhaps be tolerated, but can never be full-fledged members of the nation.

The Argentine case, however, represents an interesting contrast. Instead of serving as a means of excluding the immigrant from the national community, Argentine cultural nationalism had a strong integrationist thrust. In Argentina, the emergence of an ethnocultural understanding of nationhood coincided with, and indeed was in large part precipitated by, a massive influx of European immigrants. While deploring the newcomers as a threat to the collective Argentine race or personality, cultural nationalists and their sympathizers accepted, albeit at timed begrudgingly, that immigration was inevitable and believed that the incoming masses should be assimilated or "Argentinized" as completely as possible. For these individuals—and herein lies much of their message’s appeal—cultural nationalism represented a means of integrating the immigrant into the national community without disrupting existing political practices or social hierarchies. What cultural nationalism offered Argentines was a nation-building project based on the evolution of a putative Argentine race, rather than on political participation and the civic incorporation of immigrants.5

The essay is organized as follows. The first part looks at nineteenth- century understandings of nationality in Argentina. Focusing on the thought of prominent intellectuals and political leaders, it examines how the view of Argentina as a political association meshed with Romantic notions of national character to shape the nation’s notoriously liberal immigration and naturalization policies. Section II traces the emergence of early twentieth-century cultural nationalism, looking at ways in which massive immigration and the waning interest in democratic ideals transformed traditional views of the immigrant. This section also discusses how cultural nationalists attempted to square ethnic understandings of Argentine nationality with the very real need to incorporate the immigrant, and considers the political implications of the ethnocultural vision of Argentine nationhood. A final section extends the discussion of cultural nationalism’s political implications by looking at the ideas of the movement’s harshest critics: the leaders of the Argentine Socialist Party. Articulating an alternative vision of the nation—one that harkened back to nineteenth-century understandings—Argentine socialists challenged both the assumptions underlying cultural nationalism and what they viewed as the movement’s inherently anti-democratic thrust.


If the leaders of Argentina’s independence movement could somehow have been transported to the early twentieth century, they undoubtedly would have been bewildered by the manifestos of their descendants. The cultural nationalists’ view of the Argentine nation as a unique ethnocultural community was strikingly at odds with the ideas that informed the 1810 revolutionary project. Inspired by the example of the French Revolution, Argentine revolutionaries believed modern nations were first and foremost political associations, created by individuals who were joined by a shared political vision, rather than a common language, religion, or other ethnic traits.6 In breaking with Spain, they invoked not the claims of any pre-existing "historicocultural nation" suppressed by a colonial power, but the right to establish a new nation based on the principles of equality, liberty, and popular sovereignty.7 As revolutionary leader Mariano Moreno optimistically proclaimed, "The world has seldom seen a setting like ours in which a constitution can be modeled that will give happiness to the people."8

Integral to the idea of Argentina as a political entity was the concept of volitional allegiance. While membership in the national community was, for practical reasons, granted to all individuals born within the national territory, it was also open to those who demonstrated loyalty to the nation and its principles.9 Despite the revolutionaries’ understandable suspicion of native Spaniards, the idea that being an Argentine was a choice or act of will rather than a set of ascriptive traits was well accepted. From the earliest years of the Republic, foreign-born males were encouraged—and indeed pressured—to declare their allegiance to the new nation. Naturalization requirements were minimal, and these newly minted citizens enjoyed the same rights as the native-born.10

Early immigration policy further reflected the founders’ vision of Argentineness as a matter of choice rather than an immutable condition. An official decree, published in 1812, offered the government’s

immediate protection to individuals and their families from all nations who wish to establish their domicile in the territory of the State, assuring them the full enjoyment of the rights of man in society, insofar as they do not disturb the public tranquillity and they respect the laws of the country.11


Indeed, Argentina’s early leadership did more than simply open the nation to immigrants. Anxious to settle the vast interior, these leaders believed increasing the population was one of the new nation’s most urgent tasks and actively sought to attract European immigrants.12

Yet the vision of Argentina as a nation comprised of individuals "from all nations" who could—and were expected to—naturalize, was not free of ambiguities. Despite the universalism implicit in this understanding of nationality, the idea that nations possess distinctive characters and that their people have different propensities quickly seeped into discourse about immigration. In his 1818 diplomatic mission to Europe, independence leader Bernardino Rivadavia described immigration as the

most efficient, and perhaps the only, means of destroying the degrading Spanish habits and the fatal gradation of castes, in order to create a homogenous, industrious and moral population, [which is] the only solid base for Equality, Liberty and consequently, the Prosperity of a nation.13


The most desirable immigrant, he and his fellow revolutionaries argued, came from Protestant Europe, for they believed the people of these countries possessed the qualities necessary for constructing a prosperous, democratic nation guided by Enlightenment principles.14

The idea of national character and the belief that members of different nations were stamped with distinctive characteristics gained force in later decades, as the following generation of Argentines grappled with, and attempted to explain, the failure of Enlightenment ideas to take hold. In 1829, universal suffrage brought to power the infamous caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas, who established one of Latin America’s most enduring and brutal dictatorships. Seeking to understand Rosas’ continued popularity among the lower classes, progressive intellectuals—many of whom spent the Rosas years in exile—drew inspiration from German Romanticism with its emphasis on immutable national character and distinctive national destinies.15 As Domingo F. Sarmiento, one of the foremost members of this generation put it, "We ... began to learn something of national inclinations, customs, and races, and of historical antecedents."16

The liberal project had sputtered, these thinkers argued, because revolutionary leaders had underestimated the continued strength of the Spanish colonial legacy.17 Criticizing their predecessors’ belief that they could create a new nation ex nihlo, members of the Generation of 1837 argued that the Argentine people, the raw material of the nation, had in a sense already existed before the war of independence, having been formed (or deformed) during the long years of colonial rule. Unfortunately for progressives, the character of this people was fundamentally Spanish: prone to violence, despotism, and religious fanaticism, and thus resistant to the Enlightenment ideals the founding fathers had so cherished. Argentine geography, Sarmiento believed, had only exacerbated these negative tendencies. The harsh conditions of the vast, empty pampas, combined with Spanish proclivities, had created a national type and a style of life whose principal characteristics were impulsiveness, violence, and sloth.18

What might be called the discovery of an Argentine race or character rooted in history and shaped by geography, religion, and even language had several implications.19 First, according to the members of this generation, expunging the Hispanic legacy entailed much more than simply imposing liberal democratic institutions on a backward society. It required, instead, a hardheaded assessment of the Argentine character and a willingness to abandon abstract principles in favor of more realistic policies.20 Romantic notions about national character thus provided Argentine intellectuals with a way to justify a retreat from the goal of participatory democracy.21 The belief that the Argentine people were fundamentally unsuited to be participating citizens led intellectuals such as Juan Bautista Alberdi to argue for an evolutionary model of Argentine politics. According to Alberdi, whose famous Bases y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina [Bases and Points of Departure for the Political Organization of the Argentine Republic] provided a blueprint for the Argentine Constitution of 1853, Argentina must first pass through what he called the "possible republic": a period characterized by limited suffrage and rule by a progressive but essentially authoritarian state. Only later, once Argentina developed social and economic structures comparable to those of Western Europe, would the possible republic give way to the "true republic," i.e., a fully functioning democracy.22

But while their analysis of Argentine ills drew heavily from Romantic concepts of national character, how members of this generation understood what modern nations were, or should be, remained firmly rooted in the French tradition. In direct contrast to the Romantic view of nations as ethnocultural communities existing prior to and independently of political institutions, these thinkers held fast to the conviction that true nations must, as much as possible, approximate the model of nationhood that had emerged from the French Revolution.23 In other words, the modern nation was, in their view, a political association based on citizenship rather than an ethnocultural community based on putative ethnic traits. Thus constructing the Argentine nation, they believed, was not a matter of fortifying Argentine culture, religion, language, or traditions, or of cultivating a mythic past—far from it. Rather, since this past was seen as an obstacle to nation building, creating the nation consisted of instilling in the Argentine people a common set of political beliefs that would bind them together.24

What, then, was the role of immigration in this project to transform Argentina into a modern nation of citizens? Quite simply, the Generation of 1837 saw European immigration as the cornerstone upon which the new Argentina would be built. Like Rivadavia before them, these intellectuals viewed Northern European immigration as the remedy for Argentina’s economic and political ills. Accordingly, Alberdi believed, the government should encourage the immigration of Anglo-Saxons in order to "fit the population to the political system we have proclaimed." Anglo-Saxons, he proclaimed, "are identified with the steamship, with commerce, and with liberty, and it will be impossible to establish these things among us without the active cooperation of that progressive and cultivated race." Spanish immigrants, in contrast, were unwelcome and would only compound Argentina’s difficulties. Stridently anti-Spanish, Alberdi argued that Spaniards were "incapable of establishing a republic," either here in America or there in Spain.25

It is worth remembering here that the term "race" as used in this context was cultural and historical, rather than biological.26 Spaniards and Britons were different, these individuals believed, not because of inherited or genetic qualities (scientific racism had yet to have an impact in Argentina), but because they belonged to different cultural, linguistic, and religious traditions. While birth determined key aspects of the individual’s personality—the individual was inevitably shaped by the national group into which he or she was born—nineteenth-century intellectuals remained optimistic that native Argentines could acquire, through simple contact or more formal education, the desired Anglo-Saxon traits. Thus liberal reformers such as Alberdi and Sarmiento desired Anglo-Saxon immigration not to improve the genetic stock of the national population, but to help transform the work habits and customs of this native population.27

The related beliefs that Argentina should strive to construct a nation of citizens based upon Republican principles and that Northern European immigration would play a key role in bringing about this transformation did not last. The closing decades of the nineteenth century witnessed two transitions, one demographic and the other political, that changed both how educated Argentines viewed the immigrant and how they understood the Argentine nation. The first change, somewhat paradoxically, was the onset of massive immigration. Despite the pro-immigration attitudes of the Generation of 1837, (which came to power after the defeat of Rosas in 1852), few Europeans found Argentina an attractive destination. After 1880, however, circumstances changed. New political stability, technological advances, the end of the Indian wars, and surging European demand for imported food combined to unleash an export boom of remarkable intensity and duration. With this new prosperity, what had been a modest trickle of immigrants became a cascade. Between 1857, when immigration statistics were first recorded, and 1916, over 2.5 million immigrants permanently settled in Argentina.28 Significantly, however, the vast majority of these immigrants came not from the Protestant nations of Northern Europe, but from Italy and Spain.

Contrary to the Generation of 1837’s expectations, native Argentines received these immigrants with great ambivalence and even hostility. Indeed, this period witnessed a growing wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that intensified with the turn of the century. As will be discussed below, the reasons for this hostility varied, but what is important to note here is that most fin-de-siècle critics of immigration were unconcerned by the fact that these newcomers were not the Northern Europeans mid-nineteenth-century reformers had desired.29

The second important transition of the period informing this loss of enthusiasm for Northern European immigrants was the weakening of the democratic ideal. By the end of the century, very few Argentine leaders promoted the notion that Argentines should strive to construct a nation of citizens along the lines of the French Republican model.30 Inspired by European positivism, Argentine political elites embraced the ideal of "scientific politics," meaning that national leaders should eschew abstract political principles in order to develop, through observation and experimentation, policies and institutions in tune with the peculiarities of their societies.31 In practice, this meant the establishment of a political system that was democratic in name only. From 1880 to 1916, Argentina was ruled by the authoritarian Autonomous National Party or P.A.N., a party that controlled elections through patronage, intimidation, and fraud, and dedicated itself to the twin goals of "order and progress."

Argentina under the P.A.N. sounds much like Alberdi’s possible republic, and indeed in Argentina the segue from mid-nineteenth-century liberalism to fin-de-siècle positivism was unusually smooth. As Noé Jitrik has noted, the positivist Generation of 1880 was the "organic realization" of the previous generation.32 There were, however, some important differences. Unlike the Generation of 1837’s view that the Argentine national character would eventually evolve to the point where leaders could establish a state based on Republican principles, the positivist vision of Argentina’s future was drained of democratic possibilities. Arguing that the state should administer rather than govern, positivist-inspired leaders such as P.A.N. founder Julio Roca envisioned a state run by an enlightened elite whose citizens would contribute to the general welfare but without challenging established political practices.

The anti-democratic character of the Argentine state seems not to have bothered most immigrants. The popular stereotype of the immigrant as coming to "hacer la América" (i.e., coming for the sole purpose of making a fortune), was to a large extent accurate. Economically, immigrants proved quite successful, inserting themselves in a position above the unskilled Argentine masses but below the traditional landed elite. There, they formed both the core of Argentina’s urban working class and the emerging middle or entrepreneurial class.33 But while active in the economic sphere, few immigrants demonstrated any inclination to integrate politically. Naturalization rates were extremely low: during this period, only two to three percent of all immigrants to Argentina became citizens.34

The withering of the democratic ideal under the positivist regime, coupled with the immigrants’ reluctance to naturalize, explains why Argentine political leaders no longer viewed the immigrant as the essential element in the project of transforming Argentina into a nation of participating citizens. But since immigrants’ tendency to shun formal political participation dovetailed so well with the P.A.N.’s authoritarian vision, what accounts for the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping Argentina at the turn of the century? What type of menace did immigrants represent?

One fear frequently expressed in the anti-immigrant literature of the period was that of social upheaval.35 Immigrants formed the core of Argentina’s new urban working class and played key roles in the anarchist and syndicalist movements that began to organize by the 1890s. An alarmed national elite blamed this new militancy on foreign agitators whose "imported ideologies" had no place in Argentina. Legislative efforts to remedy the situation resulted in the infamous Residence Law of 1902 and the 1910 Law of Social Defense, which allowed the executive branch to deport undesirable foreigners.

Another source of anti-immigrant sentiment was concern over the presumed problem of racial degeneration, which itself was tied to anxiety over the social question.36 In Argentina, as in the rest of Latin American, the final decades of the nineteenth century witnessed a growing interest in racialist theories as a way of understanding the continent’s backwardness vis-à-vis Europe. Scientific racism had special poignancy in countries such as Mexico and Brazil, with large indigenous and African American populations, but Argentine intellectuals and leaders across the political spectrum also embraced the goal of social reform through racial improvement. Immigration policy, many believed, would be the key means of achieving that goal.37

Fears about immigrants as avatars of radical, foreign ideologies and as carriers of racially inferior genes were a large part of the anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping Argentina during the turn of the century. But another element—and from my reading of the evidence, the most important one—fueling this new anti-immigrant sentiment was the fear that the immigrant was undermining Argentine nationality.


As noted above, one of the central preoccupations among elites of this period was the threat of excessive cosmopolitanism and the weakening of Argentine nationality due to massive immigration. In voicing these concerns, critics of the immigrant often used the language of scientific racism, but with a very different understanding of race. Writer Arturo O’Connor provides a good example. In an essay published in Ideas, a literary magazine widely identified with the new generation of cultural nationalists, O’Connor mourns the loss of "the Argentine race," which was "disappearing under the influx of immigrants." "Race," he continues, "is nationality," and determines (or carries along with it) our distinctive "political evolution, sociability, religion, philosophy, science, art, morality, history and traditions."38 O’Connor goes on to describe how alien values of materialism have replaced the traditional spirituality of the Argentine people. In a similar vein, Manuel Gálvez, one of key proponents of Argentine cultural nationalism and a co-founder of Ideas, urged his fellow Argentines to return to their Spanish roots in their struggle against cosmopolitanism. Calling Spain the "ancestral dwelling [solar] of the race," Gálvez proclaimed it time to "feel ourselves [to be] Americans and in the ultimate term, Spaniards, given that this is the race to which we belong."39

Even intellectuals who believed that Gálvez and others exaggerated the threat of cosmopolitanism often adopted the idiom of cultural nationalism. In his review of El solar de la raza in the progressive literary journal Nosotros, Alvaro Melián Lafinur noted approvingly the new tendency among writers to promote ideals that would unify Argentines and promote a collective sense of an Argentine nationality. These efforts stemmed, he continued, from the very real need to "define our character and to affirm ourselves as a racial entity."40

The term "race" in this context clearly carried a very different meaning than that intended by turn-of-the-century adherents of scientific racism. Cultural nationalists, like their nineteenth-century predecessors, understood race to be cultural and historical rather than biological. For these individuals the term denoted a people bound together by common historical memory, language, shared mental and emotional traits, and—in the case of Gálvez—religion, and had nothing to do with the emerging science of genetics and heredity. Ricardo Rojas, who along with Gálvez is considered one of the founding fathers of Argentine cultural nationalism, made this difference explicit when he proclaimed:

I use the term ‘race’ not in the sense used by materialistic anthropologists, but in the old, romantic sense [having to do with] collective personality, historical group, cultural consciousness. Given this idealistic criterion, racial entities defy objective definitions [and can only be grasped] ... through intuition.41


The distance between the nineteenth-century vision of the immigrant as a source of democratic values and the early twentieth-century view of the immigrant as an agent of national dissolution was great indeed. But clearly what had changed was not simply the assessment of the immigrant, but the underlying understanding of what nations were and what held them together. As noted above, nineteenth-century leaders, while believing that the peoples of different nations possessed distinctive cultural traits and propensities, did not see culture, language, religion, or common ancestry as the very basis of nationhood. European immigrants were welcomed precisely because they supposedly embodied the qualities deemed necessary to construct a modern nation, i.e., a nation of participating citizens bound by their common belief in a political creed. The Romantic vision of the nation embraced by early twentieth-century Argentine cultural nationalists, in contrast, was completely devoid of any reference to political institutions or practices.42 These thinkers considered the nation to be a prepolitical essence, or in the words of Gálvez, to possess a "historic personality" or psychological structure based on an "irreducible nucleus."43 Rojas espoused the same view when he noted that the older countries of Europe, such as Germany, France, Italy, and England, each possessed a "spiritual nucleus" that was the consequence of a "homogeneous race" emerging from the "remote past." These nations, he believed, "preexisted spiritually" in the sense that the "people [pueblo] had formed before the [political] nation had been established."44 As will be discussed below, this detachment of nationality from political institutions or practices would have important implications for how early twentieth-century Argentines viewed the immigrant.

From where did this new way of imagining the nation come? Highly influential, of course, were European intellectual currents. As noted earlier, the Romantic understanding of the nation as an ethnocultural community was first elaborated in early nineteenth-century Germany. It was not until the closing decades of the century, however, that this vision of nationhood swept the rest of Europe. Blending with elements of Darwinism,45 German idealism helped produce what Eric Hobsbawm has described as the second great wave of nationalism.46 Latin American intellectuals proved receptive to these currents. Romantic idealism, in the words of David Brading, "seeped into the Hispanic world in the 1880s, gathered force at the turn of the century, and flowed at high tide after the First World War."47 In Argentina, intellectuals cited as influences French writers Hipolyte-Adolphe Taine, Ernest Renan, Maurice Barrés, Charles Maurras, and León Daudet, as well as Germans J.G. Fichte, Friedrich Schiller, J. W. Goethe, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Very often, however, the ideas of these thinkers came to Argentines filtered through the writings of the Spanish Generation of 1898, Angel Ganivet, Miguel Unamuno, and Ramiro de Maeztu, whose writings expressed the need to recover Spain’s unique traditions and to bring about the rebirth of the national soul.48

The new idealism and the concern with national character appeared in Argentina (and in Hispanic America as a whole) under the guise of the literary movement known as modernismo. Spearheaded by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío and Uruguayan essayist José Enrique Rodó, both of whom visited Argentina for extended periods, this movement knitted together a rejection of positivism and materialism with the Romantic quest for Latin American cultural autonomy and authenticity.49 In his extraordinarily influential essay Ariel, published in 1900, Rodó proclaimed the primacy of intuition over the senses and juxtaposed the supposedly idealistic, aesthetically-inclined Latin race with the utilitarianism and materialism he believed characterized the Anglo-Saxon race of the United States. Rodó’s celebration of the Latin spirit, and his belief that ethnicity provided the basis of solidarity and identity, is made clear in his statement that "we Latin Americans have an inheritance, a great ethnic tradition to maintain." A decade later he went on to identify the "idea and sentiment of the race" with the "communal sense of ancestry."50

While outside intellectual currents clearly inspired early twentieth-century Argentine intellectuals to reimagine what it meant to be a nation, it is also true that concrete circumstances helped nourish this new understanding of nationality. The mere presence of so many immigrants, most speaking foreign tongues, wearing unusual clothes, eating different foods, and engaging in all sorts of novel (and threatening) behavior such as labor organizing, brought large numbers of native Argentines face-to-face with the "other," encouraging them to think about national differences in terms of ethnicity. Modernity itself played a part, as native Argentines often blamed the immigrant for what were in fact changes more generally associated with modernization.51 Complaints about the new materialism, excessive individualism, and the loss of traditional Argentine virtues such as honesty, desinterés [selflessness], and spirituality abounded. Against the inevitable centrifugal forces of modernity and the increasing complexity of everyday life, the ideal of the nation as a cohesive, homogenous community bound together by history, shared values, and traditions exercised enormous appeal.

Another source of the ethnocultural vision of the nation’s appeal was the increasing anxiety over the weakening of old social and political hierarchies. Elites of the period frequently complained that the lower classes were no longer sufficiently deferential. In many ways, everyday experience and personal anecdote reinforced the more abstract fear that working-class militancy had gotten out of hand. Contributing to this fear about the impending collapse of the old order was the desire, by a faction of the elite, to push the stalled project of democratization forward. As early as 1890, a segment of the elite, led first by Leandro Alem and later by his nephew Hipólito Yrigoyen, rejected the P.A.N.’s fraudulent practices and called for honest elections. Organized as the Unión Cívica Radical (U.C.R.), this party constantly agitated for reforms.52 Finally in 1914, President Roque Sáenz Pena, himself a member of the P.A.N., bowed to pressure and sponsored legislation that made voting both secret and mandatory for all Argentine citizens. The reforms were effective. In 1916, the U.C.R. gained control of the presidency which it held until a military coup in 1930.

For those Argentines who feared democratization and doubted the U.C.R.’s ability to maintain order, the ethnocultural vision of nationality was understandably attractive for two related reasons. First, in contrast to the French model of nationhood, which conceives of the nation as a political association formed by individuals who share equally in the rights and obligations of citizenship, the ideal of the nation as an ethnocultural community can easily tolerate internal hierarchies. As M. Rainer Lepsius has argued, the model of the ethnocultural nation "is not the basis of pressure for an equal life situation ... [since] the idea of historical uniqueness of a people is completely consistent with the differential qualifications of members of the people."53 Put another way, because the very identity of nations modeled along the lines of post- Revolutionary France rests, in part, on the ideal of equality, these nations must to some degree promote egalitarianism. But for nations whose identity rests on their supposedly unique ethnic characteristics, there is no reason why social and political hierarchies cannot remain intact.

Second, within the ethnocultural understanding of nationhood, the rights of the individual are seen as secondary to those of the collective. The nation, according to this model, is not formed by the conscious acts of individuals, but instead emerges organically over time, unaided by human agency. As such, it stands above the individual, enjoying a higher status. When the interests of individuals conflict with those of the nation, the rights of the former are easily subordinated to the collective interests of the nation.54 Thus Manuel Gálvez, who feared that Argentina’s Catholic character was being undermined by Protestant organizations such as the Salvation Army, urged that "apostles of foreign religions" be expelled, despite constitutional guarantees to the contrary. "The Constitution," he proclaimed, "is unquestionably a respectable document, but nationality should take precedence over the Constitution; the salvation of the nation requires the violation of the Constitution."55

Gálvez’s intemperate comments, besides highlighting some of the political implications of the ethnocultural understanding of nationality, bring us to the obvious problem of the immigrant. If, during the early decades of the twentieth century, growing numbers of native Argentines began to understand their nation as a unique ethnocultural community and saw Argentines as forming a distinctive race, what role did they envision for the millions of immigrants flooding onto their shores? Could the immigrant become a member of the Argentine race, and if so, how was this to be accomplished?

Common sense tells us that in societies formed by immigration, ethnicity cannot possibly provide the basis of national identity. Countries such as the United States must by necessity define nationality in political terms. That is, membership in the national community cannot depend on the individual’s origins or ethnic qualities, but on his or her willingness to embrace a political creed and the principles of citizenship. In situations where ethnicity does form the basis of a nation’s identity and large-scale immigration occurs, the immigrant population—as is the case in Germany—does not enjoy full membership in the national community. But Argentina, where the idea of the nation as a ethnocultural community gained force at precisely the moment when the country was experiencing massive immigration, represents a unique case. As argued above, in Argentina the ethnocultural vision of the nation, rather than providing a rationale for marginalizing the immigrant (as occurred in Germany), served as a means to integrate the foreigner.

How was this possible? The key lay in the widely accepted view that in Argentina a new race was forming, one that would represent an amalgam of the diverse racial groups that currently coexisted within national borders. Although some pessimists such as Arturo O’Connor saw the immigrant as the destroyer of the putative Argentine race, much more common was the more optimistic view that the newcomers would be a part of a new, emerging race.

Let us listen to the voices of the period. "What we are seeing now," according to Dr. Salvador Debenedetti, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires,

... is the soul of the future race, characterized by common aspirations, and shaping itself [plasmandose] slowly and locally under the influence of the social medium and the environment. Such manifestations are clear symptoms of a nationality [already] defined or about to become defined....56


Juan Mas y Pi, a well-known writer and critic, proclaimed that "Argentina has been, and continues to be, a country of great ethnic confusion, [an] enormous conglomerate of all the races and castes...." From this "confused conglomeration," he believed, "a great race ... would inevitably emerge."57 And in the words of the poet Almafuerte:

The future great soul ... will appear ... when the mind of the new race in gestation has formed, when the beautiful blond beast that Nietzsche speaks of has been formed formed from this current Babel, [that will occur] thanks to the fusion of the bloodlines, the atavisms, the degenerations, the histories, the diverse origins that now clash ... and repel each other.... [The present situation] is a frightful hurley-burley that will endure for ... generations until it constitutes an organism [with a] clearly drawn body [and an] obvious, characteristic race....58


The emerging raza argentina, then, would include rather than exclude the immigrant.


The idea of Argentina as a race-in-formation had widespread appeal because it provided a framework for visualizing how to integrate the immigrant into the national community. But these optimistic proclamations, inclusive though they might be, tell us nothing about what role the immigrant would have in shaping this new race. Like the term "nation" itself, the idea of Argentines as a race-in-formation was an empty screen upon which any number of images could be projected. Far from having a definitive shape or character, this notion formed an arena of contestation in which some of the liveliest intellects of the period would clashed.

How individual thinkers defined the putatively emerging race and what qualities they privileged—shared descent, language, religion, personality traits—varied enormously. How would this race form? Would it be a spontaneous process occurring naturally over time? Or would it be guided by a native elite who would determine what was and was not authentically Argentine? At stake here, of course, was the question of who in Argentina would wield cultural authority. Also, what was the role of descent? Could the foreign-born become real Argentines, or could only their offspring born on national soil become real Argentines? How acquirable were the traits that marked one as a true Argentine? Were these traits acquirable by all or limited only to those of a certain ancestry?

A brief comparison of how Rojas and Gálvez approached these questions is illustrative. Of the two thinkers, the latter had the more restrictive notion of the developing Argentine race. According to Gálvez, the Argentine race was fundamentally Latin, and within the greater racial grouping of Latins, Spanish. Echoing Rodó, Gálvez argued that Latins constituted a unique race, sharing the special traits of spirituality, warmth, and creativity that other races lacked.59 In contrast to the Uruguayan thinker, however, Gálvez believed the special characteristics of Latins were inextricably bound to Catholicism, arguing that "[r]eligion, like language, is one of the essential fundamentals in which resides nationality."60

In keeping with his vision of Argentina as a fundamentally Hispanic nation whose identity was intimately bound to Catholicism, it is not surprising that Gálvez believed immigrants from Latin countries (and especially Spain) were most desirable. Noting approvingly that the great majority of Argentina’s immigrants came from Spain and Italy, Gálvez argued that these newcomers brought with them the "providential and invisible mission to conserve the qualities of latinidad in the mixture of peoples [that had come to Argentina] and to guarantee, in the amalgam of so many metals, the pure gold of latinidad."61 Despite the massive influx of immigrants from all parts, Argentina was and would remain a Latin, and especially a Hispanic, nation.

Gálvez’s vision of the emerging Argentine race, whose character is preserved because of the sheer number of Latins entering the country, seems to privilege heredity or common descent as the basis of nationality.62 Yet elsewhere he appears to indicate that the qualities distinguishing one people from another can both be acquired and lost. He complains, for example, that immigrants (and here he fails to distinguish between Latin and non-Latin immigrants) had come to Argentina only in search of wealth, thereby introducing natives to a "new concept of life" and "infecting" them with the vice of materialism.63

The obverse side of this fear that Argentines could become denationalized by contact with alien values is that immigrants could themselves be transformed and thus nationalized. Despite his suggestion, noted above, that individuals who promoted the spread of Protestantism should be deported, Gálvez does at times indicate that it is indeed possible for the immigrant—even the non-Latin, non-Catholic immigrant—to become a true Argentine. This occurred, he believed, through a mysterious process of transubstantiation when the foreigner "submerges" his soul in the "vastness of the national soul, and his heart pulses to the rhythm of the national sentiment" [se templa en al pauta del sentimiento nacional].64 Gálvez’s deep friendship with fellow writer Alberto Gerchunoff, a Russian-born Jew, is also revealing. Lauding his friend as one of the great "attractions" of his generation and Gerchunoff’s book, Los gauchos judios [The Jewish Gauchos], as "one of the most beautiful of our narrative literature," Gálvez apparently believed that even foreign-born Jews could become real Argentines.65

By comparison, Rojas’s vision of the emerging Argentine race was more expansive. Whereas Gálvez defined the Argentine race as essentially Hispanic and one whose special character was intimately bound to Catholicism, Rojas argued that Spain had provided only one element, albeit an important one, in the emerging new Argentine race.66 One of the few thinkers of the period to acknowledge the pre-Columbian past, Rojas believed the evolving Argentine race would result from the fertile coupling of both indigenous and European elements.67 This new civilization, which Rojas termed "Eurindia," would be completely unique and of "transcendental importance for humanity."68

When describing how this felicitous blend of the foreign and the native would occur, Rojas’ thought takes on a decidedly mystical cast. Each nation’s territory, he believed, possessed spiritual forces that, emanating from the soil, stamped the territory’s inhabitants with a particular set of mental characteristics and thus gave the nation its distinctive personality or character.69 In Argentina, Rojas argued, these telluric forces also had a unifying function, serving to transform or nationalize the millions of foreigners who continued to pour onto national shores. The rural interior, then, would serve as the "crucible" of the national race, "molding men into a race, and transforming this race until it was a true nationality."70

Whatever we may think of Rojas’ fanciful vision (which raised the eyebrows of more than a few of his contemporaries), it is important to appreciate his mystical musings for what they are: an attempt to reconcile the contradictions between the ethnocultural understanding of nationality he embraced and the realities of early twentieth-century Argentina. By arguing that the telluric forces of the Argentine soil would impose a common mental or spiritual matrix on the newcomers, Rojas is able to stretch the parameters of the ethnic vision of nationality to make it capacious enough to accommodate the immigrant. Thus, while he agreed with other cultural nationalists that the current wave of immigrants had taxed the country’s capacity to absorb or transform them, Rojas continued to argue that the "cosmopolitan immigration" was a "key part of the ethnic development of our nationality."71

It would be erroneous, however, to conclude that Rojas’ more inclusive vision of the emerging Argentine race provided the immigrant with a greater role in shaping the character of that race. Closer inspection of his understanding of the raza argentina reveals that his view is more similar to Gálvez’s than this brief comparison suggests. While Rojas believed that the emerging Argentine race would be a mixture of diverse European and native elements, it is clear he also believed the foreigners’ contribution to this developing national personality should be tightly supervised.

Rojas’ well-known activities in the realm of education amply reflect this conviction. In his 1909 work, La restauración nacionalista (a project financed by the Ministry of Education), Rojas proclaimed the need to transform the nation’s schools into the "hearth of citizenship."72 Chastising past governments for blindly following foreign educational models, Rojas called for a complete reorganization of the national school curriculum. This new curriculum should focus on Argentine history, the Spanish language, Argentine literature, Argentine geography, and moral instruction, and should seek to inculcate in all immigrant children a love for the nation and an understanding of Argentine traditions. The public schools, Rojas believed, should be instrumental in the effort to "define the national conscience" and bring about a "real and fecund patriotism."73 In other words, the emergence of the new Argentine race, while gradual, would not and should not be allowed to occur naturally. Rather, to safeguard authentic Argentine values and traditions, the artistic and intellectual elite, i.e., individuals such as Rojas, should direct and shape the personality of this emerging race.74

Differences over the content of the emerging national race or personality are also evident in the growing debate over the national language. Central to the Romantic understanding of the nation was the belief that language was an integral part of nationality, a view widely embraced by early twentieth-century Argentine intellectuals.75 Language within the Romatic tradition served to identify and unify members of the national "race" or community, to differentiate them from nonmembers, and to express and record the historical memory of the community. But while many intellectuals of the period embraced the identification of language and nationality, it posed certain problems. To be a real nation did Argentina need its own national language, or was Spanish the true national language? The dilemma for cultural nationalists and their sympathizers was not merely theoretical, for many feared that Argentine Spanish was indeed changing. During the early years of the century, two distinct jergas or jargons, both associated with the working-class immigrant population, emerged in Buenos Aires. Lunfardo, an urban street slang with heavy Italian influence, and cocoliche, a kind of gaucho-talk associated with popular theater that featured dramatic comedies about rural life, were very much in vogue among the immigrant working class. While a few intellectuals applauded these new jargons as evidence that Argentina was at last developing its own language (and thus its own distinctive national personality), others ardently defended pure Spanish.76

Sparking the language/nationality controversy was the 1900 publication of visiting Frenchman Luciano Abeille’s Idioma nacional de los argentinos. Abeille, clearly steeped in the ethnocultural nationalism sweeping Europe, saw language as the expression of the national soul and argued that nations lacking their own language were incomplete.77 Fortunately, he proclaimed approvingly, Argentina was in the process of developing a distinctive language. "In the Argentine Republic," Abeille argued, "a new race is forming. Consequently the Spanish language will evolve until it forms a new language."78 Criticizing Argentine schools for teaching "pure Castilian" devoid of local phrases or neologisms, he warned that this effort to inhibit the evolution of Argentina’s national language would "perturb the national soul that is reflected in that language."79

Abeille’s book provoked an immediate response. Ernesto Quesada, a prominent intellectual famous for his monumental tomes on history and culture, soundly rejected Abeille’s argument that a new Argentine language was developing, while at the same time embracing the French writer’s premise that language was constitutive of nationality. Calling language the "depository of the [national] spirit, race and genius," he argued that Argentina’s educated classes had a duty to preserve Spanish in its pure form, which was genuinely Argentine.80 Writing later but expressing the same sentiment, playwright Enrique García Velloso argued, "we are never more Argentine than when we speak and write Spanish correctly."81

Gálvez and Rojas, not surprisingly, weighed in on behalf of the purists. Ever the Hispanicist, Gálvez impatiently dismissed the idea that Argentina would, or should, develop its own language. "The enmity against pure Spanish," he contended, "is something which [is] more a defensive attitude stemming from youthful ignorance than a true sentiment." Lunfardo, he maintained, was a weak and unstable dialect destined to fade. More importantly, it was the educated upper class, especially writers and teachers, who set the standards for the national language. Since these individuals spoke pure Spanish, the rest of the nation should, too.82

Rojas agreed, and decried the "alarming problems" cosmopolitanism posed for Argentine Spanish.83 Attacking Abeille’s theories as "unscientific and encouraging the most barbaric and vain inclinations of creole (i.e., native) jingoism,"84 Rojas argued that the Spanish language represented the "synthesis of our national personality and race [and was part of] the collective memory of tradition and culture."85 Accordingly, he believed Argentines should strive to keep their Spanish as pure as possible.86 At the same time, however, Rojas was careful to reject the view that all immigrants represented a threat to Argentine Spanish. In his response to an encuesta or survey on the language question published in the progressive newspaper Crítica, he noted that children of immigrants easily learned to speak Spanish correctly. Indeed, he went on to argue, many fine writers were first-generation Argentines.87

Yet the growing debate over language did produce some dissenting voices, as several intellectuals concerned about cultivating what was original and authentic in Argentine culture embraced Abeille’s work. Responding directly to Quesada’s attack on the French writer, elite writer Francisco Soto y Calvo chastised his fellow intellectuals for their rigidity. In the past, Soto y Calvo maintained, the great majority of Argentine writers had produced works that "could just as well have been written in Paris as in Buenos Aires."88 Such similarities meant not that Argentines were on par with the rest of the world, but that they were mere imitators, and pale ones at that. The incorporation of popular expressions into the emerging national literature would lend it originality and color. While acknowledging that lunfardo did not fully express the Argentine spirit, Soto y Calvo argued that this jargon represented an important stage in the development of a new national language. Regarding the evolution of this language, he proclaimed that Argentine writers should welcome these modifications instead of combating them. "We complain," he wrote, "about how we are forming a nation without character, [yet] we are wasting ... [the very qualities] which could give us that character." This new jargon, Soto y Calvo continued, "is more genuinely Argentine, and as such gives us more honor, than that which we [the elite writers] bring from abroad and learn like parrots."89

Also supporting Abeille’s thesis was a respondent to the Crítica survey, writing under the English pseudonym "Last Reason" and identified only as a master of creole theater. Embracing the ethnolinguistic nationalism then in vogue, "Last Reason" maintained that the formation of a distinctive language was central to the nation’s emerging identity. Without this new language, the writer contended, "Buenos Aires would be merely a cosmopolitan, European city that lacked its own personality." What now seemed a crude slang, he believed, would form the basis of a new and ultimately rich national language. Attacking the elitism of "doctors"90 who worried about the vulgarity of this new language, he proclaimed:

[So you think] the language we use is barbaric and phonetically incorrect? I agree ... the kid is so ugly it’s difficult to kiss him. Nonetheless, the baby is ours.... But take note: one day the kid will grow and be beautiful, he will be a man.... [O]ne day he will enter into the history of nations through the front door, speaking in a loud voice a language which is beautiful, graphic, musical and vibrant.... [T]his language will be the product of that rude and bastard dialect which today burns the lips of the doctors.... [T]omorrow it will be the powerful clarion that shouts to the decrepit and worm-eaten nations, the coming of a great and glorious nation.91


Elite playwright and novelist José Antonio Saldías also supported the notion of a new language. Co-founder of Crítica, Saldías argued that such a language was becoming more and more necessary due to the greater diffusion of new expressions into everyday speech. Moreover, like "Last Reason," he believed the people themselves would produce it. "The national language," he claimed, "like theater, like industry and all that is authentically ours, is rapidly forming with the irrepressible contribution of popular [i.e., immigrant] expression." Accusing those Argentines who opposed the formation of a national language of being overly rigid, Saldías believed this new language would develop despite their disapproval. "The people themselves," he argued, "needing to express themselves fully and spontaneously, will, little by little, create and enrich this new language."92

Abeille’s defenders represent an interesting twist to the early twentieth-century debates over the Argentine national character. Like the advocates of pure Spanish, they accepted the Romantic ideal of the nation as a distinctive people evolving over time, marked by a common set of mental and emotional qualities, and whose language somehow expressed or reflected the national soul. But clearly this latter vision of the Argentine race or nation had a more popular, pro-immigrant tincture. In contrast to purists such as Gálvez and Rojas—who, despite their talk of Argentines as an emerging race—believed immigrants must conform to a pre-existing Argentine identity, intellectuals such as Soto y Calvo, Saldías, and "Last Reason" argued the immigrant would help shape the character of the new race. In their view, Argentine identity was still fluid, and it would be the contribution of working-class immigrants that would provide the Argentine personality with its distinctive qualities.

The vision of Argentines as an emerging race, then, was in many ways a neutral construct, lending itself to a variety of ways of imagining the Argentine nation and the role of the immigrant within it. Regardless of whether it reflected elitist or populist tendencies, it provided a way of envisioning the integration of the immigrant into the national community. But despite this virtue, the limitations of this vision should not be overlooked. What is absent, of course, is any reference to the political integration of the immigrant. Missing from these debates over the immigrants’ role in the emerging Argentine race is any expression of concern over the newcomers’ failure to naturalize.

The peculiarity of this understanding of the process of Argentinization, and the vision of the nation that gave rise to it, is clear when we compare how the Argentine Socialist Party (PS) viewed the problem of the immigrant. In contrast to cultural nationalists who remained indifferent to the idea of transforming immigrants into participating citizens, the socialists were energetic advocates of naturalization. The need to enlarge their electoral base was undoubtedly an important motive, but so was their belief that nationality entailed some sort of participation in, and contribution to, the political and economic destiny of the nation.

Founded in 1894, the party sought to establish itself as the representative of Argentina’s growing working class. Headed by Juan B. Justo, a first-generation Argentine and a physician drawn to socialism through his work with the poor, the PS pursued a reformist rather than a revolutionary strategy. While advocating the eventual socialization of the Argentine economy, Justo was also a committed democrat and believed that socialism could be achieved in Argentina through gradual legislative reform. Under his leadership, socialist candidates vigorously sought elective office, and by 1916 the PS had become Argentina’s second-most powerful political party.

Socialists attacked the cultural nationalists both for the content of their ideas and their motives. Justo, for example, rejected as "mystical" the very idea that nations were "rigorously delimited entities," with distinctive personalities and destinies.93 While acknowledging that nations were indeed distinctive due to their different degrees of development, the PS embraced the Enlightenment notion that human beings were fundamentally similar and equal. Nations should, Justo argued, be evaluated and ranked not according to inherent qualities such as race or ethnicity, but according to the

vital energy of the population as indicated by the rate of population growth, the infant mortality rate ... the literacy rate, in the level of freedom of thought, in the extension of political rights of the inhabitants and the level participation in the electoral process.94


Attacking the motives of the cultural nationalists, fellow socialist Augusto Bunge ridiculed the notion of racial or ethnic differences as a "sophistry dreamed up by poets and politicians." In an obvious reference to Rojas, Bunge argued that those who sought a "national restoration" were members of the conservative class who wished simply to perpetuate the status quo.95

Argentine socialists’ ideas about nation and nationality clearly harkened back to the political understanding of nationality espoused by Rivadavia and other members of the revolutionary generation of 1810. For the socialists, the nation was above all a political association: membership in the national community had nothing to do with an individual’s ethnic characteristics, language, or even length of residence in Argentina, but rather one’s willingness to participate in the political system and to contribute to the general well-being and greatness of the nation. This identification of citizenship and Argentineness, and the voluntaristic nature of nationality, comes through clearly in Bunge’s claim that the naturalized citizen who was loyal to his adoptive nation was more completely Argentine than the corrupt, native-born politician who stole from the public till or the decadent society matron whose only concern was to spend her husband’s fortune on Parisian fashions.96


The Socialist Party’s insistence that immigrants should become naturalized citizens and the cultural nationalists’ belief that the immigrant would—in some fashion—form part of an emerging Argentine race, represent very different responses to the challenges massive immigration posed. Proponents of both approaches recognized the need to integrate the newcomers and to make them members of the national community. For socialist leaders, it was the political arena that would provide the basis of national cohesion. Seeking to revive the ideals of Argentina’s revolutionary generation, socialist leaders viewed nations as human creations: the result of conscious acts by like-minded individuals who together form a political association based on the supposedly universal values of equality, liberty, and popular sovereignty. These shared political beliefs and a common sense of enterprise—not language, religion, or other ethnic traits—would bind the members of the nation together.97 Accordingly, anyone who embraced these ideals and publicly pledged loyalty to the nation could become a true Argentine. By the same token, becoming an Argentine was inseparable from becoming a citizen.

For cultural nationalists and their supporters, in contrast, integrating the immigrant into the national community was a lengthier and murkier process. Because these individuals defined the nation as an ethnocultural community and equated nationality with a bundle of cultural or ethnic characteristics (defined differently by different individuals, and which might or might not be acquirable), becoming an Argentine had nothing to do with obtaining formal citizenship or embracing a political creed. Rather, Argentinization entailed a process more akin to a spiritual transformation by which the immigrant became—through some mystical process—bound to the nation.

It is worth asking why so many prominent intellectuals of the period completely ignored the naturalization issue and why they had so little faith in the political arena as a source of national cohesion. For some intellectuals such as Manuel Gálvez, whose authoritarian tendencies have already been noted, the idea of popular sovereignty and uniform citizenship rights, integral to the vision of the nation as an association of citizens, offended their belief in a natural hierarchy. Additionally, such individuals also saw civil equality and democratic institutions as being ill-suited to protect the higher interests of the nation. (Recall, for example, Gálvez’s insistence that Protestant preachers should be deported despite constitutional guarantees to the contrary.) Not surprisingly, Gálvez supported Argentina’s first military coup, led by an ultra-nationalist military faction in 1930, that ended Argentina’s experiment with democracy.98

But it would be false to portray all intellectuals who embraced the ethnocultural understanding of nationality as anti-democratic. Although their reaction is not known, it is doubtful that individuals such as Soto y Calvo, "Last Reason," and Saldías sympathized with the 1930 coup. And Ricardo Rojas, despite his obvious elitism, remained a supporter of democratic institutions. An implacable critic of the military coup and the fraudulent government that followed, Rojas endured two years of internal exile in Tierra del Fuego (Argentina’s equivalent of Siberia) for his beliefs.99

The question remains: Why then, did Rojas and others with democratic inclinations not see formal citizenship as an essential component of Argentineness? Why did they not see a common political life and uniform citizenship rights as a basis of national solidarity and cohesion, or view bringing the immigrant into the political process as a way to strengthen the nation? Part of the answer must lie in the fact that early twentieth-century Argentines had had very little experience living in a functioning democracy. Despite the ideals of nineteenth-century leaders and the 1914 electoral reforms, democracy had very shallow roots in Argentina, and the notion of citizenship was extraordinarily weak.100 Politics had always served to divide rather than unite the nation, with factional disputes all too often resolved with bullets rather than ballots. Given this history, it was not surprising that few intellectuals would see the political sphere as a source of cohesion, nor that many would turn to cultural nationalism as a way of integrating a nation newly shaken by the centrifugal forces of rapid modernization and massive immigration.

There is, of course, a certain irony in Argentina’s enduring preoccupation with immigration. In a century or so, the immigrant passed from the status of nation-builder to that of a potential threat to the national soul, as well as a potential element in the emerging national race. In many ways the immigrant was the quintessential Other: his place and putative role in Argentina had less to do with whatever qualities he might possess or bring to his adoptive nation, than with the projections, anxieties, and desires of the Argentines themselves, and with their understanding of what their nation was or should become.

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1 A much earlier version of this essay was presented at the 1995 meetings of the American Historical Association in Chicago under the title "What does it Mean to be Argentine? Nation, Nationality and Immigration in Argentina." I wish to thank Douglas Klusmeyer, Sophie Pirie, Dietham Prowe, Anne Rodrick, and Bruce Thompson for their helpful comments, both substantive and stylistic, on subsequent drafts. This essay is dedicated to the memory of Frederick Bowser, friend and mentor.

2 In addition to William Rogers Brubaker’s Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992) discussed in this essay, see Kay Hailbronner, "Citizenship and Nationhood in Germany," Immigration and the Politics of Citizenship in Europe and North America, ed. William Rogers Brubaker (New York: UP of America, 1989) 67-79; Douglas B. Klusmeyer, "Aliens, Immigrants, and Citizens: The Politics of Inclusion in the Federal Republic of Germany," Daedalus 122.3 (1993): 81-114.

3 Brubaker 109.

4 This is the period during which Argentine intellectuals and political leaders were centrally concerned with immigration and its role in the nation building process. I have chosen 1930 as the end point because in Argentina, massive immigration ended with the onset of the Great Depression. While immigration did not halt altogether, the economic crisis of the 1930s meant that Argentina would no longer be a principle destination of European emigrants, and from that time on ceased to be a topic of sustained official and public debate.

5 To date, most scholarly treatments of this period have emphasized the xenophobic nature of Argentine cultural nationalism, arguing that the early twentieth-century movement represented an attempt by elites to control and distance themselves from the masses. See for example Carl Solberg, Immigration and Nationalism in Argentina and Chile (Austin: U. Texas P, 1970); Richard Slatta, "The Gaucho in Argentina’s Quest for Identity," Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 12 (1985):98-122; and David Viñas, "‘Niños’ y "criados favoritos’: De Amalia a Beatriz Guido a través de La gran aldea," in his Literatura argentina y realidad política, (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1982) 78-112, esp. 93-106. While not discounting the Argentine elite’s fear of social upheaval and its distaste for the working class immigrant, this line of interpretation tells only part of the story. As will be developed below, cultural nationalism was not so much an attempt to reject the immigrant as it was a means of integrating the newcomer into the national community, but on terms that marginalized him politically. This, it seems to me, is the fundamental paradox of Argentine cultural nationalism.

6 Hans Vogel, "New Citizens for a New Nation: Naturalization in Early Independent Argentina," Hispanic American Historical Review 71.1 (1991): 108. The influence of the French Revolution on nineteenth-century Argentine political thought is treated exhaustively by various authors in Imagen y recepción de la Revolución Francesa en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Grupo Editor Latinoamericano, 1990). On the idea of the nation as a political entity or association of citizens, see also Michael Reikenberg, "El concepto de la nación en la región del Plata (1810-1831)," Entrepasados 3.4-5 (1993): 89-102.

7 José Carlos Chiaramonte, "Formas de identidad en el Rio de la Plata luego de 1810," Boletín del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana Dr. E. Ravignani 3rd series, number 1, semester 1 (1989): 83. See also Benedict Anderson’s comments on the Latin American independence movements in his Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991) 67, 81.

8 José Luis Romero, A History of Argentine Political Thought, trans. Thomas McGann, 2nd ed. (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1968) 71.

9 Vogel 108. The idea of volitional allegiance was apparently well accepted, as evidenced by an essay penned by an "adoptive son of the new nation" and published in the highly regarded Gaceta de Buenos Aires. According to the unnamed author, place of birth had little to do with one’s loyalties: "the word patricio [patriot] does not mean creole [i.e., native-born]: all those who make up this community regard it as their patria [fatherland]." Those individuals who "observe the laws and customs, respect its government, and serve it with their persons, fortunes and talents are patricios. Those born here are patricios by nature, those settled here from abroad are patriots by adoption." Gaceta de Buenos Aires 17 Sep. 1810. Cited in Vogel 111.

10 Vogel 108-17.

11 Jorge Carlos Mitre, "La inmigración en la Argentina y la identidad nacional," Historia 7.26 (Jun.-Aug. 1987): 43-44. Mitre cites the original quotation, which appeared in La Gaceta Ministerial on 4 Sep. 1812.

12 Tulio Halperin Donghi, "Para qué la inmigración? Ideología y política inmigratoria y aceleración del proceso modernizador: El caso Argentino (1810-1914)," Jahrbuch Für Geschichte Von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas (Band 13, Bohlau Verlag, Koln, Wien, 1976) 443.

13 Quoted in Halperin, "Para qué?" 443.

14 Halperin, "Para qué?" 443.

15 As Jorge Myers has noted, the ideas of Romantic thinker Johann Gottlieb Herder were disseminated in Argentina during this period principally through French translations (Jorge E. Myers, "‘Revoluciones inacabadas’: Hacia una noción de ‘revolución’ en el imaginario histórico de la nueva generación argentina: Alberdi y Echeverría, 1837-1850," Imagen y recepción de la Revolución Francesa en la Argentina [Buenos Aires: Grupo Editor Latinoamericano, 1990] 251). For more discussion of the impact of German Romanticism on Argentine thought in the first half of the nineteenth century, see Fermin Chavez, Historicismo e Iluminismo en la cultura argentina (Buenos Aires: Editora del País S.A., 1977) especially 43-61; and Eduardo Segovia Guerrero, La historiografía argentina del romanticismo, diss. Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1980.

16 Charles Hale, "Political and Social Ideas in Latin America, 1870-1930," Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell, vol. 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986) 373.

17 In the words of Esteban Echeverría, one of the most prominent members of this generation: "We are no longer oppressed by the arms of Spain, but her traditions cast dark shadows among us" (quoted in Romero 139).

18 Domingo R. Sarmiento, Facundo, 8th ed. (Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1963) 28. As Halperin has put it "The colonial legacy was for Sarmiento something more than a bundle of habits, intellectual tendencies or ideological prejudices: it was an entire style of life, molded as much by great open spaces of the American pampa as by the Hispanic and pre-Hispanic heritage; in the language of Sarmiento, it was the fruit of ‘colonization and the peculiarities of the terrain’" (Halperin, "Para qué?" 444).

19 In true Romantic fashion, members of the Generation of 1837 believed the Spanish language was inextricably bound to the Spanish character they deplored and urged their countrymen to develop distinctively American spellings and pronunciations that would serve as the basis for a new national language. Some, such as Juan Bautista Alberdi, urged Argentines to think in French, which would enable them to think more "rapidly and directly" than was possible in Spanish (quoted in Myers 256). For more on the Generation of 1837 and language, see David Viñas, "La mirada a Europa: Del viaje colonial al viaje estético," Literatura argentina y realidad política, 2nd ed. (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina) 13-77, especially 18-19.

20 Romero 149.

21 This retreat must, of course, also be seen as part of the generalized European reaction against the philosophy of natural rights and the excesses of the French Revolution. On this point, see Hale 375 and Tulio Halperin Donghl, Proyecto y construcción de una nación: Argentina, 1846-1880 (Caracas, Venezuela: Biblioteca Ayucucho, 1980) 45.

22 Halperin, Una nación para el desierto argentino (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1982) 39-41. Echeverría echoed Alberdi’s belief that Argentina must pass through a stage of restricted democracy. While proclaiming that "Democracy is ... the only regime that suits us," he also cautioned that the time was not yet right for unrestricted suffrage (quoted in Myers 258).

23 Even Alberdi, probably the least democratic member of this generation, continued to maintain that the Argentine Revolution "in its ideas was no more than a phase of the great French Revolution" (Hale 369).

24 According to Echeverría, liberal reformers should concentrate on promoting the symbols of "liberty," "equality," "fraternity," "progress," and "association," forging them into a coherent doctrine to become the basis of a unified, national system of belief (quoted in Myers 258).

25 Quoted in Romero 143-44.

26 On this point see Halperin, "Para qué?" 463-64. For a useful general discussion of ideas about race in the nineteenth century, see Nancy Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1991).

27 These newcomers, these reformers believed, would somehow "infect" the native population with the values and attitudes necessary for economic development and liberal democracy. Alberdi expressed a common sentiment when he proclaimed that "each [non-Spanish] European who immigrates brings us more civilization in his habits ... than the best philosophy book." If Latin American leaders wanted "the habits of order and industry" to prevail, they had to attract people who possessed these traits. The qualities, he believed, were contagious [pegajosos]: "beside European industry, soon American industry will form" (quoted in Gladys Onega’s La inmigración en la literatura argentina (1880-1910), 2nd ed. (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1982) 29-30.

28 Carl Solberg, Immigration and Nationalism in Argentina and Chile, 1890-1914 (Austin: U of Texas P, 1970) 35.

29 Indeed, as will be discussed below, many Argentines expressed relief that most immigrants came from Spain and Italy. Latins, they believed, could more easily be assimilated into the national population.

30 This is not to argue that all Argentines relinquished the ideal of Argentina as a nation of citizens. Key exceptions were Sarmiento and political leader Juan A. Alsina. And, as noted below, a faction of the elite resisted the P.A.N. and attempted to push the democratic project forward.

31 Positivism, developed by French philosopher Auguste Comte, enjoyed enormous prestige throughout late nineteenth-century Latin America and proved extremely influential in Argentina. In the Latin American context, positivism became a heterodox and protean set of ideas adapted to the needs of local situations, unified principally by an all-encompassing faith in the scientific method. While Comte himself did not develop a theory of politics, the idea of "scientific politics" gained common currency among elites throughout Latin America. For an excellent synthetic treatment of Latin American positivism, see Hale’s "Political and Social Ideas" 382-96.

32 Noé Jitrik, El mundo del Ochenta (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1982) 20. The similarities between the ideas of the Generation of 1837 and later positivist thinkers led philosopher Alejandro Korn to argue in 1927 that Argentine positivism was of "autochthonous origin." (Hale, note 38.)

33 Torcuato S. Di Tella, "El impacto inmigratorio sobre el sistema político argentino," Estudios migratorios latinoamericanos 4.2 (Aug. 1989): 212-13. Di Tella estimates that immigrants made up between 60 to 70% of these two classes.

34 Di Tella 212. Scholars have disagreed over the reasons for this low naturalization. See, for example, Halperin ("Para qué?" 464-65), Oscár Cornblit, Ezequiel Gallo (h.); Afredo O’Connell (Cornblit et al., "La generación del 80 y su proyecto," Argentina, sociedad de masas, eds. Torcuato Di Tella, Gino Germani, and Jorge Graciarena, 3rd ed., [Buenos Aires: EUDEBA, Buenos Aires, 1966] 48-51). Torcuato Di Tella (Di Tella "El impacto" 214); and Hilda Sabato, "Citizenship, Political Participation and the Formation of the Public Sphere in Buenos Aires, 1850s-1880s," Past and Present 136 (Aug. 1992): 139-63.

35 See for example, Zenón Bustos, "La Revolución que nos amenaza," Revista de filosofía 5.9, 1st semester (1919) 145-56; Manuel Carlés (founder of Argentine Patriotic League) interview, Buenos Aires Herald, 2 May 1919 n.p., and Definición de la Liga Patriótica (Guía del buen sentido social) (Buenos Aires: privately published pamphlet, 1920); E. de. Cires, "La inmigración in Buenos Aires," Revista Argentina de Ciencias Politicas 2.24 (24 Sep. 1912): 735-46. This view of cultural nationalism as an elite response to fears of social upheaval predominates in the historiography dealing with this period.

36 See for example, Francisco Stach, "La defensa social y la inmigración," Boletín Mensual del Museo Social Argentino 5.55-56 (Jul.-Aug. 1916): 360-89; Lucas Ayarragaray, "Política Inmigratoria," 9th Congreso Nacionalista (Buenos Aires: Imprenta Ventriglia, 1928) 469-79.

37 Influenced by the ideas of Gustav Le Bon, Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism, and Italian criminologists, proponents of racial improvement often pointed to social unrest, crime, disease, and delinquency as evidence of racial degeneration, noting the "correlation between immigration and criminality as proof of the connection between race and crime" (Eduardo Zimmermann, "Racial Ideas and Social Reform: Argentina, 1890-1916," Hispanic American Historical Review 72.1 [Feb. 1992]: 36). Urging tighter controls over immigration, reformers hoped to halt the further influx of inferior genetic stock. For a good introduction to the topic of racial improvement in Latin America, see The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940, ed. Richard Graham (Austin: U of Texas P, 1990); Nancy Stepan, "The Hour of Eugenics": Latin America and the Movement for Racial Improvement, 1918-1940. For Argentina specifically, see Zimmermann 23-46, and Diego Armus, "Mirando a los Italianos: Algunos imagenes esbozadas por la elite en tiempos de la inmigración masiva," La inmigración Italiano en la Argentina, eds. Fernando Devoto and Gianfausto Rosoli (Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos, 1985) 95-104.

38 Arturo Reynal O’Connor, "Los poetas argentinos," Ideas 3. 4-5 (Jul. 1904): 259. This essay later appeared as the preface to O’Connor’s book, Los poetas argentinos (Buenos Aires: Imprenta José Tragant, 1904).

39 Manuel Gálvez, El Solar de la Raza (Buenos Aires: Editorial Tor, 1936) 37.

40 Alvaro Melián Lafinur, rev. of El solar de la raza, by Manuel Gálvez, Nosotros (Nov. 1913): 202. See also Lafinur’s comments about French nationalist C. Maurras in the special Sunday supplement of La Nación, devoted to the theme of Latinidad (4 Jul. 1926).

41 Ricardo Rojas, Silbarios de la decoración americana (Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1930) 151.

42 This tendency to ignore political institutions reflects, of course, the cultural nationalists’ view of the nation as an ethnic rather than a political entity. As John Hutchinson has noted, for cultural nationalists, "the state is, at best, accidental, and is frequently regarded with suspicion..."(John Hutchinson, "Moral Innovators and the Politics of Regeneration: The Distinctive Role of Cultural Nationalists in Nation Building," Ethnicity and Nationalism, ed. Anthony Smith [New York: E.J. Brill, 1992] 103). This is not to say, however, that this vision of nationhood had no political implications. On the contrary, when a nation’s self-understanding is detached from political institutions that guarantee citizens’ civil liberties and their right to participate in the business of government, and when the interests of the nation are seen as taking precedence over those of individuals, gross violations of the most basic human rights can result. Twentieth-century Germany, of course provides a tragic example (M. Rainer Lepsius, "The Nation and Nationalism in Germany," Social Research 52:1 [Spring 1985]: 49-50). In the case of Argentina, as will be discussed below, Manuel Gálvez’s belief that the collective interests of the nation should supersede those of the individual led him to support the overthrow of a democratically elected government by a nationalistic, fascist-type military faction. Further discussion of the political implications of the ethnocultural vision follows.

43 Quoted in David Rock’s Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History and Its Impact (Berkeley: U of California P, 1993) 48.

44 Ricardo Rojas, La restauración nacionalista, 3rd ed. (Buenos Aires: A. Peña Lillo, 1971) 136. First published in 1909.

45 For a discussion of the relationship between ethnocultural nationalism, Darwinism, and scientific racism, see Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990) 107-8. For a very illuminating discussion of the relationship between scientific and ethnocultural understandings of race in the Latin American context, see Hale 379-407.

46 Hobsbawm 102. The first great wave was, of course, eighteenth-century political nationalism associated with the French Revolution. So strong were these late nineteenth-century currents of ethnocultural nationalism that even the French were not immune. See Brubaker 98.

47 David A. Brading, Prophecy and Myth in Mexican History (Cambridge: Centre for Latin American Studies, U of Cambridge P, 1984) 73.

48 On the European roots of Argentine cultural nationalism, see David Rock "Antecedents of the Argentine Right," The Argentine Right: Its History and Intellectual Origins, 1910 to the Present, eds. Sandra McGee Deutsch and Ronald Dolkart (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources Books, 1993) 1-34. See also pages 74-75 of Carlos Altamirano and Beatriz Sarlo, "La Argentina del centenario: Campo intellectual, vida literaria y temas ideológicos," Ensayos Argentinos 69-105. For contemporary comments on German Romanticism in early twentieth-century Argentina, see Roberto Vischer, "El sentimentalismo estético," Verbum 8.24 (Aug. 1914): 55-61.

49 In Europe, of course, the idea of national character was also part of anti-positivist reaction. On this point see Mihály Szegedy-Maszák, "The Idea of National Character: A Romantic Heritage," Concepts of National Identity: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, ed. Peter Boerner (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1985) 45-61.

50 Quoted in Hale 416.

51 On this point, see my article "Making Sense of Modernity: Changing Attitudes toward the Immigrant and the Gaucho in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina," Comparative Studies in Society and History 38.3 (1996): 434-59.

52 Committed democrats, Yrigoyen and his followers insisted that Argentina was ready for honest elections and a more open, participatory system. In this regard they resembled the Socialist Party, which will be discussed below. A significant difference, however, is that the Radicals rarely expressed interest in courting immigrant support or encouraging naturalization. The obvious question, of course, is what vision of nationality underlay the Radicals’ political program? Did they see nations as being primarily political associations based on citizenship and the universal values of equality and liberty? Or did they conceive of nations more as ethnocultural communities? Space constraints prevent a full exploration of the U.C.R.’s understanding of nationhood, but much of language of Radicalism strongly resembled that of cultural nationalists. See for example Radical activist and theorist Joaquín Castellanos’ collection of essays published as Acción y Pensamiento (Buenos Aires: J.A. Pellegrini, 1917), where he writes that the "yearnings" of the Radical movement [agrupación] were in sync with and would help bring to fruition the "complementary labors of the nationality... [these labors being] directed from the depths of history by the living instinct of the race" [anhelos que tienden a cumplir los labores complementarias de la nacionalidad, dirigidos desde el fondo de la historia por el instinto vidente de la raza] (78). Yrigoyen himself was a fervent follower of the German Karl Christian Krause, an early nineteenth-century disciple of Kant. For more on the Radical vision of nationality, see as well Alberto M. Etkin, Bosquejo del al historia y doctrina de la UCR (Buenos Aires: El Ateneo, 1928). It is also worth noting that both Gálvez and Rojas eventually became strong supporters of Radicalism. On this point, see David Rock, "Intellectual Precursors of Conservative Argentine Nationalism," Hispanic American Historical Review 67.2 (1987): 296.

53 Lepsius 57.

54 In Lepsius’s words: "In contrast [to the model of the nation as an association of participating citizens], the idea of the folk nation requires no dramatization of individual civil rights as the constitutive criterion of the membership of an individual in a nation. The properties through which a people becomes a nation concern a collectivity. The folk is conceived as a prepolitical essence; the individual is subsumed under this collectivity.... The nation does not develop as a politically constituted solidarity association of citizens. On the contrary, it appears as a prepolitical essence which has a higher status than the individual" (49). This vision of the nation as standing above the individual and the idea that national or collective interests take precedence over those of the individual dovetailed with the Spanish corporatist political traditions and Catholic social theory, both of which enjoyed increasing popularity among certain sectors of the Argentine elite during this period. On this point see Rock, "Intellectual Precursors."

55 Manuel Gálvez, El diario de Gabriel Quiroga: Opiniones sobre la vida argentina (Buenos Aires: Arnoldo Möen, 1910) 68.

56 Salvador Debenedetti, "Sobre la formación de una raza argentina," Revista de Filosofía 1, 2nd semester (1915): 416-17.

57 Juan Mas y Pi, "El arte en la Argentina," Renacimiento 2.6 (Jan. 1911): 307.

58 Almafuerte (Pedro B. Palacios), "Discurso a la juventud," Hebe 1 (1918): 18.

59 See for example Galvez’s disparaging remarks about Switzerland, which he believed lacked "spirit, grace and talent, and was like one of those people, honest but vulgar, of an ordered life, who eat, work and make love at fixed hours, incapable of committing a crime or dishonesty, certainly, but also incapable of dreaming or creating" (Solar 56).

60 Gálvez, Diario 67.

61 Gálvez, Solar 58-59.

62 Gálvez’s tendency to attribute personality traits to heredity comes through elsewhere. In his discussion of the Argentine aristocracy (which he claims was distinguished by its delicacy of feeling rather than its wealth), he argues that the formation of an aristocracy is a "process of [biological] selection." See "El espíritu de la aristocracia," published in a collection of essays under the same title, (Buenos Aires: Agencia General de Libreria y Publicaciones, 1924) 10.

63 Gálvez, Solar 14.

64 Gálvez, Diario 68.

65 Manuel Gálvez, Amigos y maestros de mi juventud: Recuerdos de una vida literaria, 2nd ed., vol. 1 of 4 vols. (Buenos Aires: Hachette, 1961) 44, 46.

66 Indeed, Rojas was at times extremely critical of Spanish traditions. See for example, his discussion of the importance of non-Spanish European influences in Argentina, without which "our education would have remained [centered] in anagoge and the catechism, our politics in demagoguery and despotism, and our economy in routine and monopoly" (Ricardo Rojas, Eurindia, 2nd ed., vol. 5 of his Obras Completas (Buenos Aires: Juan Roldán, 1924) 197.

67 Rojas, Eurindia 170.

68 Ricardo Rojas, "Los gauchescos," La literatura Argentina: Ensayo filósofico sobre la evolución de la cultura en el Plata, 2nd ed., vol. 1 of 4 vols. (Buenos Aires: Juan Roldán y C., 1924) 510. (This edition of Los gauchescos is published as vols. 8 and 9 of Rojas’s Obras Completas.)

69 Rojas, Eurindia 161, 169.

70 Rojas, Los gauchescos 58, 74.

71 Rojas, Eurindia 134.

72 Rojas, Restauración 135.

73 Rojas, Restauración 48. These proposals (similar to those enacted in France after 1880) suggest that Rojas believed it possible for the state to teach immigrant children to be Argentines, and that Argentineness was acquirable, that is, more a matter of conscious choice that an immutable state of being. Yet despite his appeals for educational reforms geared toward instilling patriotism in the school-age population, Rojas never strayed far from the Romantic vision of nationality. For him, becoming an Argentine was always much more than simply embracing a political creed, gaining knowledge of Argentine culture and traditions, or speaking Spanish. Even in La restauración nacionalista, where he outlined his educational proposals, he suggests that civic instruction had its limits. The true nationalizing force, he seemed to believe, was the telluric power of the Argentine territory. The immigrant, he argued, could never become a true Argentine, since he was "like the original immigrant of the colonial period; he returns to his native country or dies in ours; he is insignificant [es algo que pasa]. What will endure is the child of the immigrant and the descendants of his children ... for these have the common matrix imposed on them by the American environment" (Restauración 136-37).

74 This idea of the artist as the midwife of the new Argentina was a recurring theme during this period. See, for example, Carlos Altamirano and Beatriz Sarlo, "La Argentina del centenario: Campo intellectual, vida literaria y temas ideológicos," Ensayos argentinos: De Sarmiento a la vanguardia (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1983) 69-105.

75 For a full discussion of the linguistic component of the ethnocultural vision of the nation, see Hobsbawm 101-30.

76 The definitive history of the early twentieth-century language debate in Argentina has yet to be written. For a useful introduction to the topic, along with relevant texts from the period, see Alfredo V. E. Rubione, En torno al criollismo: Textos y polémica (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1983).

77 Luciano Abeille, Idioma nacional de los argentinos (Paris: Librairie Emile Bouillon, 1900) 5.

78 Abeille 35.

79 Abeille 424.

80 Ernesto Quesada, "El criollismo," Estudios, vol. 3 (Jun.-Jul. 1902): 251-453.

81 Enrique García Velloso. Response to Crítica opinion survey "Llegarémos a Tener un Idioma Propio?" Crítica 21 Jun. 1927.

82 Gálvez. Response to Crítica opinion survey "Llegarémos a Tener un Idioma Propio?" Crítica 20 Jun. 1927.

83 Ricardo Rojas, "Discurso del Decano Ricardo Rojas, Inaugaración del Instituto de Filología," Verbum 17.61 (Sep. 1923): 36.

84 Rojas, Los gauchescos 866-67.

85 Ricardo Rojas, Alocución dirigido a los bachilleres del Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires (12 Aug. 1928) 13. Pamphlet, privately published, n.p. Located in archives of Museo Ricardo Rojas, Buenos Aires.

86 There is, to be sure, a certain defensive quality about many of Rojas’s writings on the language question. In Eurindia, for example, he argues that while the literature of each nation will develop a distinctive content, this does not mean that the each nation will develop a unique language (74-78). Yet elsewhere in the same work, where he compares language to "docile clay upon which the poet or the people [pueblo] imprint the movements of their soul" (46), he seems to suggest that language does indeed reflect the uniqueness of a people. It’s unclear whether Rojas ever resolved the contradictions in his position; the fact that his personal copy of Abeille’s book (located in the Ricardo Rojas Museum) is heavily underlined and full of marginal notes suggests he struggled with the language issue.

87 Rojas. Response to Crítica opinion survey "Llegarémos a Tener un Idioma Propio?" Crítica 13 Jun. 1927.

88 Francisco Soto y Calvo, "De la falta de carácter en la literatura argentina," Estudios 2, vol. 4 (1903): 300.

89 Soto y Calvo 303.

90 Here "Last Reason" specifically mentions Rojas. Response to Crítica opinion survey "Llegarémos a Tener un Idioma Propio?" Crítica 16 Jun. 1927.

91 "Last Reason."

92 José Antonio Saldías. Response to Crítica opinion survey "Llegarémos a Tener un Idioma Propio?" Crítica 12 Jun. 1927.

93 Quoted in Adolfo Dickmann, "El Socialismo y el Principio de Nacionalidad," Nacionalismo y Socialismo (Buenos Aires: n.p., 1933) 29. It should be noted that while Justo attacked idea of race promoted by cultural nationalists, he himself used their terminology. See for example, his comment that "the Argentine race, the old, autochthonous race, is fatally condemned to disappear" (quoted in Dickmann 29). It is also interesting to note that prominent members of the Socialist Party also subscribed to some of the tenets of scientific racism then widely accepted in Argentina. For a discussion, see Zimmermann.

94 Juan B. Justo, "Cimentar la paz," La Vanguardia 9 Dec. 1918.

95 Augusto Bunge, El ideal argentino y el socialismo (Buenos Aires: Libreria La Vanguardia, 1918) 41.

96 Bunge 53. Perhaps the most impassioned statement of the idea that Argentineness was based not on descent or ethnicity but on a common political creed came from socialist leader Enrique Dickmann. Dickmann, a Russian-born Jew who immigrated to Argentina at the age of sixteen, became one of the first members of the party to be elected to Congress. In a somewhat melodramatic speech to that body, Dickmann related his reactions to a festival he had attended at his children’s elementary school in Buenos Aires. Viewing the scores of youngsters assembled for the ceremony, Dickmann said, he was struck by the diversity of the student body. Before him stood "blondes, brunettes, whites, a few blacks, one or two mulattos, children of all races ... and all nations." His initial reaction, he told his fellow members of Congress, was one of concern over the excessive cosmopolitanism of Argentine society and the difficulty of creating a unified nation from such disparate elements. These fears, however, were dispelled when the children rose together to sing the national anthem. So moved was he, Dickmann confessed to his colleagues, that "I felt a real and democratic unction. My eyes filled with tears, my heart compressed with happiness [as I] reflected that up to now the cry of liberty contained in our anthem has been but a vague aspiration, a far-off ideal, that now is being realized by the new political forces and the new Argentine democracy.... [T]his cry of liberty will be real the day [we achieve] true political liberty for the people, authentic economic liberty for the working class and the freedom of conscience for all the men of the world who wish to inhabit the blessed and fertile soil of Argentina!" (quoted in Dickmann 50).

97 It should be noted here that the Socialist Party was not immune to Romantic influences. Indeed, one of the most divisive events during this period was the 1913 crisis precipitated by a proposed duel between two prominent party members, Alfredo Palacios and Manuel Ugarte. Ugarte, an intellectual internationally known for his promotion of the idea of a pan-American Hispanic race, challenged Palacios to a duel over a perceived insult. Palacios accepted. Although the duel was never fought, the rest of the party leadership was incensed, since PS statutes expressly prohibited dueling. After much debate, the executive committee voted to expel Ugarte, citing his "Latin American obsession" and his excessive "patriotic atavism." (Minutes of Meeting of Circunscripción 20a of Socialist Party, published in La Nación, Nov. 11-12 and reprinted in Manuel Ugarte y el Partido Socialista: Documentos recopilado por un argentino (Buenos Aires: Union Editorial Hispano-Americana, 1914) 95-97. Palacios, a dashing figure, famous for his sweeping mustache, wide-brim hats, and romantic exploits, was only censored. He suffered expulsion two years later, however, when he accepted another challenge for a duel. At that time serving as a representative of his party in the Argentine National Congress, he was forced to resign when his party expelled him. In a emotional resignation speech, he professed his continued support for socialist ideals, but explained that as a man of Hispanic descent, he was simply unable to "tear from my soul" his sense of traditional Spanish honor [perjucio caballeresco], because "I am of the race, because I have it in my ... [Argentine] and Spanish blood!" (Diario de Sesiones, vol. 1 [12 Jul. 1915]: 662.

98 Only a few years later, however, Galvez seemed somewhat ambivalent about the coup that had deposed the aging President Yrigoyen. Indeed, in 1933 he published a highly laudatory biography of the Radical leader.

99 The question of the relationship between the ethnocultural understanding of nationhood and anti-democratic, authoritarian states is a tricky one. As noted earlier, Lepsius has argued that the nation conceived as an ethnocultural community (i.e., the folk nation) is "constitutionally indifferent" (49). In contrast to the political understanding of nationhood that emerged from the French Revolution, the ethnocultural vision of the nation can lend itself to "the most different internal orders and constitutions imaginable [which] can be justified through the sovereignty of the ‘people’ [or folk]" (49-50). Thus people who are drawn to such a vision of the nation can (and do) exhibit a wide variety of political inclinations. Such was the case in Argentine, where the two founding fathers of cultural nationalism, Gálvez and Rojas, followed very different political paths: in the late 1920s and early ’30s, Gálvez flirted with fascism while Rojas suffered internal exile for his democratic views.

100 See note 44, especially the discussion of Hilda Sabato’s "Citizenship, Political Participation and the Formation of the Public Sphere in Buenos Aires, 1850-1880s."

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