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Nationalism does not form a single fraternal community Essay


Introduction

Lomnitz affirmed that nationalism does not form a single fraternal community because it distinguishes between various categories of people1; indeed these assertions hold to be quite true in Argentina. Argentineans have been struggling with the concept of nationalism for a long time because no basis for commonality actually exists2.

Nationalism and the lack of a single fraternal community in Argentina

The debate over nationalism and its constituents have often led to bitter if not violent confrontations3. This has been the result of various political and historical events in the country. Argentina is an amalgamation of various cultures that range from European immigrants, Indians, Spanish descendents, indigenous Argentines as well as Afro Argentines4.

Furthermore, the country’s affiliation to its Catholic heritage further complicates this definition of nationalism5. Political control of the concept of nationalism has also added to this complication. At one point, emphasis was given to the links between Mother Spain and Argentinean nationalism.

However, when threats of foreign domination emerged, Argentine authorities soon rejected associations with western cultures by postulating the very notions that they had banned prior to these anti-colonial sentiments6.

Now that a description of the Argentinean historical and political discourse has been given, it is crucial to link this to the divergent occurrence of nationalism in the country. Lomnitz explains that nationalism in Latin America has often been defined by the elite classes7.

In the nineteenth century, they were the ones that determined the elements of modernity which were desirable and the ones that were not. They were patriotic and had great taste. However, their foreign contacts made them appear less patriotic than indigenous Latin Americans8.

In fact, certain powerful figures such as the 1976 President – Arturo Frondizi asserted that foreign ideological influences and customs were detrimental to the national roots of Argentina9. He believed that the country’s citizens had the responsibility of saving their traditions and cultures10.

This understanding of nationalism (one that is defined by social classes) delineates the upper classes from the lower ones. It creates greater division between these two categories of people because the majority of the population may not belong to the elite classes11.

Concepts of nationalism in Argentina possess certain cleavages that make some citizens appear less associated with the nation than others12. Indeed, concepts of race and ethnicity have been acknowledged as important contributors to the understanding of nationalism in this country13. Political elites have frequently propagated the notion that Argentinean citizens and hence true nationals are descendants of Spanish nationals.

In essence, these are people who are predominantly white or European14. The country’s capital – Buenos Aires – has often been understood as being predominantly white but this is not always the case if one critically examines the demographics prevalent in that location15. Indigenous groups have sometimes been defined as being less Argentinean than members of the white race16.

Indians account for approximately three hundred thousand of the people who live in Argentina and they are sometimes discounted by some of the predominant races in the country. The same thing has been happened to black populations in the country. It should be noted that blacks got into Argentina as a result of slave traffic.

In the middle of the twentieth century, people of African descent (including mulattoes, who were mixed-race children of Europeans and blacks) represented approximately thirty percent of the capital city’s population. However, these numbers reduced dramatically in later years. The population of Afro-Argentines has often been resented because they are considered as invaders of urban spaces17.

They are sometimes called ‘negrola’ and the areas that they occupy are called ‘cabecitas negras’. Such terms are quite derogatory and have been termed as racist. In the eyes of the people who use them i.e. the upper and middle class white population, ‘Negrola’ is not a term that denotes unity in citizenry18. This group of people thinks of itself as more Argentinean than the blacks and the mulattoes.

To them, nationalism is symbolic of modernity and progress. Certain races are automatically associated with poverty, so they tend to defy that understanding of nationalism. This perception of who is a real Argentinean has sometimes led to xenophobic relations between various races19. Perceptions of non whites have been difficult to reconcile with nationalist sentiments.

In Argentina, state interventions occurred in order to spearhead a form of popular nationalism. Ideologies that stemmed from the government were to be spread out to the people through the education system20. The only challenge was that there were already professional cultural producers who could not identify with this state sponsored form of nationalism.

Consequently, the latter groups often challenged the nationalist project propagated by the government of President Peron. He was trying to spread these sentiments into different parts of the country through an unconventional system.

However, those who could not identify with those nationalist sentiments claimed that education should not be used as cultural machinery. Therefore, politically shaped nationalism did not create a fraternal community because it created two sets of groups; the non state groups and state elites21.

In the nineteenth century, nationalism was presumed to be exclusionary because it was only designed for a small portion of the population. It was understood as something that encompassed the literate and the wealthy. As a result, most poor people or uneducated people were cut out from this definition22. It was this kind of thinking that eventually led to a populist kind of nationalism that began in the 1940s and fifties.

Populist nationalism tried to correct the ills in early nineteenth century understanding of nationalism. It wanted to include members of sidelined races into the political sphere. Blacks and Indians alongside other delineated groups were bracketed and referred to as ‘the people’.

The only problem with this perception was that it led to a politically based conception of the Argentinean nation that has persisted to date. People were now divided into two divisions; some of them were categorized as Peronists (President Peron had propagated this ideology) while the anti-Peronists were considered outcasts and non nationals.23

Conclusion

Nationalism in Argentina has created several dilemmas that fail to achieve the very notion of a single fraternal community. In certain circumstances, nationalism has caused class based divisions in Argentine because it was linked to the literate and the wealthy.

In other situations, it has separated non political adherents with political. Finally, nationalism has divided Argentines along racial lines as well since members of certain ethnicities were not considered as real nationals. This has sometimes sparked violence and xenophobic reactions.

Bibliography

Anderson, B, Imagined communities: reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism, Verso Publishers, New York, 1991.

Balibar, E & I Wallerstein, Race, nation, class: ambiguous identities, Verso publishers, London, 1991

Billig, M, Banal Nationalism, Sage Publishers, Thousand Oaks, 1995.

Brading, D, The first America: the Spanish monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492-1867, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.

Calhoun, C, Nationalism, Minneapolis University Press, Minneapolis, 1997.

Centeno, M, Blood and debt: war and the nation state in Latin America, Pennsylvania State University Press, Pennsylvania, 2002.

Collier, D & R Collier, Shaping the political Area. Critical Junctures, the labor movement, and regime dynamics in Latin American, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991.

Delaney, J & H Delaney, ‘Imagining “El Ser Argentino” Cultural nationalism and romantic concepts of nationhood in early twentieth century Argentina’, Latin American Studies Journal, vol. 34, no. 3, 2002, pp 625-658.

Eisenstadt, S, ‘The construction of collective identities in Latin America: Beyond the European nation state model’ in L Roniger & M Snadjer (eds), Constructing collective identities and shaping public spheres, Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 1998, pp 245-263.

Gellner, E, Nations and nationalism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1983.

Halperin, D, The contemporary history of Latin America, Duke University Press, Durham, 1993.

Helg, A, ‘Race in Argentina and Cuba, 1880-1930’, in R Graham (ed.), The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940, Texas University press, Texas, 1990, pp 37-70.

Horowitz, J, Argentine unions, the State and the rise of Peron, Institute of International studies, Berkeley, 1990.

Itzigsohn, J & V Hau, Unfinished imagined communities: The theoretical implications of nationalism in Latin America, Unpublished manuscript, Brown University, 2001.

Lepsius, R, ‘The “Nation” and “Nationalism” in Germany’, Social Research Journal, vol. 52, no. 1, 1985, pp 43-65.

Lomnitz, C, ‘Nationalism’s Dirty Linen: Contact zones and topography of national identity’, in Lomnitz, C (eds) Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of nationalism, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis, 2001, pp 1-14.

Lomnitz, C, ‘Modes of citizenship in Mexico’, Public Culture Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, 1999, pp 269-203.

Mallon, F, ‘Indian communities, political cultures and the state in Latin America, 1780-1990’, Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 24, no 3, 1992, pp. 35-53.

Plotkin, M, Manana es San Peron: A cultural history of Peron’s Argentina, Scholarly resources, Wilmington, 2002.

Roch, D, “Intellectual Precursors of conservative nationalism in Argentina’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 67, no. 2, 1987, pp 43-56.

Saloman, F & S Schwartz, The Cambridge history of native peoples of the Americas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999.

Zimmermann, E, ‘Racial ideas and Social reform: Argentina’, American Historical Review, vol. 72, no. 1, 1992, pp 5-16.

Footnotes

1C Lomnitz, ‘Nationalism’s Dirty Linen: Contact zones and topography of national identity’, in Lomnitz, C (eds) Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of nationalism, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis, 2001, pp 1-14.

2E Balibar & I Wallerstein, Race, nation, class: ambiguous identities, Verso publishers, London, 1991

3B Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism, Verso Publishers, New York, 1991.

4D Halperin, The contemporary history of Latin America, Duke University Press, Durham, 1993.

5D Roch, “Intellectual Precursors of conservative nationalism in Argentina’, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 67, no. 2, 1987, pp 43-56.

6E Zimmermann, ‘Racial ideas and Social reform: Argentina’, American Historical Review, vol. 72, no. 1, 1992, pp 5-16.

7 C Lomnitz, ‘Modes of citizenship in Mexico’, Public Culture Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, 1999, pp 269-203.

8E Zimmermann, ‘Racial ideas and Social reform: Argentina’, American Historical Review, vol. 72, no. 1, 1992, pp 5-16.

9F Saloman & S Schwartz, The Cambridge history of native peoples of the Americas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999.

10M Plotkin, Manana es San Peron: A cultural history of Peron’s Argentina, Scholarly resources, Wilmington, 2002.

11J Delaney & H Delaney, ‘Imagining “El Ser Argentino” Cultural nationalism and romantic concepts of nationhood in early twentieth century Argentina’, Latin American Studies Journal, vol. 34, no. 3, 2002, pp 625-658.

12D Brading, The first America: the Spanish monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492-1867, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.

13E Gellner, Nations and nationalism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1983.

14J Itzigsohn & V Hau, Unfinished imagined communities: The theoretical implications of nationalism in Latin America, Unpublished manuscript, Brown University, 2001.

15A Helg, ‘Race in Argentina and Cuba, 1880-1930’, in R Graham (ed.), The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940, Texas University press, Texas, 1990, pp 37-70.

16F Mallon, ‘Indian communities, political cultures and the state in Latin America, 1780-1990’, Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 24, no 3, 1992, pp. 35-53.

17S Eisenstadt, ‘The construction of collective identities in Latin America: Beyond the European nation state model’ in L Roniger & M Snadjer (eds), Constructing collective identities and shaping public spheres, Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 1998, pp 245-263.

18R Lepsius, ‘The “Nation” and “Nationalism” in Germany’, Social Research Journal, vol. 52, no. 1, 1985, pp 43-65.

19M Billig, Banal Nationalism, Sage Publishers, Thousand Oaks, 1995.

20D Collier & R Collier, Shaping the political Area. Critical Junctures, the labor movement, and regime dynamics in Latin American, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991.

21M Centeno, Blood and debt: war and the nation state in Latin America, Pennsylvania State University Press, Pennsylvania, 2002.

22C Calhoun, Nationalism, Minneapolis University Press, Minneapolis, 1997.

23J Horowitz, Argentine unions, the State and the rise of Peron, Institute of International studies, Berkeley, 1990.

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Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Nationalism does not form a single fraternal community." May 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/nationalism-does-not-form-a-single-fraternal-community-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Nationalism does not form a single fraternal community." May 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/nationalism-does-not-form-a-single-fraternal-community-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Nationalism does not form a single fraternal community'. 8 May.

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