✍ Argentina en el siglo XIX [2005]

por Teoría de la historia

0acd8943ca8d51ec95a6a1d701714d2fArgentina en el siglo XIX represents the culmination of almost two decades of work by researchers at Mexico’s Instituto Mora to provide an overview of Argentina’s nineteenthcentury history to nonspecialists. The book offers an accessible narrative, based upon secondary sources in Spanish and English, of Argentina’s “long” nineteenth century from the Bourbon Reforms to the promulgation of the Sáenz Peña Law. Indeed, the bibliography reveals that although the authors faced numerous delays before the final publication of their work, they were able to keep pace with changing scholarship in the field. The book also includes a number of useful maps detailing information such as colonization patterns, shifting colonial frontiers, the breakup of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, railroad growth, and immigration. At the end of the book is a descriptive and helpful 40-page chronology summarizing events between 1776 and 1916. The first section of the book examines settlement, the development of the colonial economy, the formation of the viceroyalty, the creation and the impact of the Bourbon Reforms, and the climate of ideas during the years preceding independence. Nonspecialists may be familiar with Argentina’s colonial development: the Andean and Atlantic patterns of Spanish settlement in Argentina, the important role played by silver mining in Potosí as a market for producers in surrounding regions, and the development of Buenos Aires as a commercial port servicing both legal and contraband goods. However, the presentation of this material in the context of historiographical developments and debates will satisfy nonspecialists and specialists alike. For example, the authors examine the roles played by ranching and agriculture in the growth of the rural economy of Buenos Aires, drawing our attention to the arguments of Jorge Gelman and Juan Carlos Garavaglia that challenge the notion of ranching’s dominance. They assert that the existence of medium or even large agricultural units did not contradict the consolidation of large estancias, as the latter required the stationary labor that farms provided. The authors point out that Ricardo Salvatore has questioned Gelman’s resulting suggestions of a free circulation of labor and relatively peaceful relations between ranchers and laborers, emphasizing coercion in the labor recruitment practices of estancieros. The abilities of Yankelevich et al. to present these historiographical debates clearly and concisely and to show continuities between each era are the strengths of this book. Their approach is particularly useful for the period 1810 to 1852, as the topics of independence, the government of Bernardino Rivadavia, and the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas continue to spawn and inflame debates among both Argentines and scholars of Argentine history. On the subject of independence, the authors follow Tulio Halperín Donghi in stressing that the revolution appeared first as the “inheritor” before becoming the “destroyer” of the old regime (p. 57). Rosas, the authors suggest, can hardly be seen as either “defender of the nation” or an “obstacle to national unification” when there was no preexisting “nation” (pp. 145 – 46). Most of the historiographical introductions are fairly brief (apart from the well-founded exception of a lengthy investigation of the literature on Rosas) but these reviews of the literature orient the reader and provide issues to ponder as one absorbs the subsequent material. Useful, too, in coming to grips with this period are sections examining caudillismo, answering the question “Federales y unitarios: quién es quién,” and the inclusion of relatively lengthy excerpts from the writings of protagonists and scholars. The period from 1852 to 1912, which constitutes the third and final section of the book, has witnessed a growth in historiography in the past decade that parallels Argentina’s own expansion during the late nineteenth century. The authors should be commended in keeping up with this burgeoning scholarship; for example, in explaining Argentina’s rapid late-nineteenth-century economic growth they draw upon both the well-established arguments of Jorge Sábato as well as the recent contributions of Fernando Rocchi. I have very few quibbles with this book. For a general history, perhaps the social development of Argentina does not feature as prominently as it could; and the interplay between provincial and national development deserves further examination. Nonetheless, the authors have achieved what they promised: a work for a general audience that is based upon available scholarship and addresses ongoing debates in Argentine historiography. Nonspecialists, graduate students preparing for exams, and perhaps advanced undergraduates writing seminar papers will all find this book useful, as it provides a readable and valuable analysis of the period and its historiography.

[Alistair HATTINGH. “Argentina en el siglo XIX. Coordinated by Pablo Yankelevich, Celina Bonini, Jorge Cernadas, Damián López Martín, and Roberto Villarruel. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José Luis Mora, 2005. Maps. Tables. Figures. Notes. Bibliography. Index. 423 pp. Paper” (reseña), in Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. LXXXVIII, nº 2, mayo de 2008, pp. 318-320]