"Pobres negros!" The social representations and commemorations of blacks in the river plate from the mid-nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth (and beyond)

Roberto Pacheco, Florida International University

Abstract

To counter regnant arguments in the historiography about the putative historical “forgetting” of Afro-Platines in their nations, “‘¡Pobres negros!’” explores the various social representations and commemorations devoted to blacks in the River Plate over the period from the mid-1800s to the 1930s. While never uniformly or consistently positive, over the nineteenth century these social remembrances nevertheless experienced a radical transformation. Early intellectual nation builders among the Generation of 1837 associated blacks with the forces of social, political, and cultural “barbarism.” These representations remained a part of the national memory until well into the late 1800s in liberal and progressive circles. For these thinkers, European immigration was the solution to all of Argentina’s ills. ^ However, starting in the middle of the nineteenth century, blacks in Argentina and Uruguay became the objects of more favorable remembrances, especially among nationalists. Blacks were now often depicted and historically remembered (and reimagined) as Platine Creoles and national heroes. Their white compatriots remembered that Afro-Platines, for instance, fought for and died defending their nations, and often lamented the fate of the “Poor blacks!” By dying for the cause of national sovereignty, blacks were seen as having vanished from the national scene and became the convenient objects of Creole nostalgia. National leaders like Bartolomé Mitre, the founder of the modern Argentine state and its historiography, nostalgically recalled and reimagined them as loyal patriots and heroes. Especially in Argentina, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, this nostalgia was further encouraged by the social and political problems often blamed on foreigners, Jews, and radicals (i.e., non-Argentines). In this socio-political climate, therefore, Afro-Platines were fondly depicted in sites of social memory as loyal sons of the nation, as opposed to foreign anti-patriots and subversives. Even if incorporated as inferiors into the national imaginary, Afro-Platines were nonetheless variously commemorated by Creole elites at the turn of the nineteenth century (and, indeed, beyond).^

Subject Area

Latin American history

Recommended Citation

Pacheco, Roberto, ""Pobres negros!" The social representations and commemorations of blacks in the river plate from the mid-nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth (and beyond)" (2015). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10002886.
https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI10002886

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