Excessively European, refreshingly European, not as European as it looks, struggling to overcome a delusion that it is European. Argentina—in all its complexity—has often been obscured by variations of the “like Europe and not like the rest of Latin America” cliché.The Argentina Reader deliberately breaks from that viewpoint. This essential introduction to Argentina’s history, culture, and society provides a richer, more comprehensive look at one of the most paradoxical of Latin American nations: a nation that used to be among the richest in the world, with the largest middle class in Latin America, yet one that entered the twenty-first century with its economy in shambles and its citizenry seething with frustration.
This diverse collection brings together songs, articles, comic strips, scholarly essays, poems, and short stories. Most pieces are by Argentines. More than forty of the texts have never before appeared in English. The Argentina Reader contains photographs from Argentina’s National Archives and images of artwork by some of the country’s most talented painters and sculptors. Many selections deal with the history of indigenous Argentines, workers, women, blacks, and other groups often ignored in descriptions of the country. At the same time, the book includes excerpts by or about such major political figures as José de San Martín and Juan Perón. Pieces from literary and social figures virtually unknown in the United States appear alongside those by more well-known writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Ricardo Piglia, and Julio Cortázar.
The Argentina Reader covers the Spanish colonial regime; the years of nation building following Argentina’s independence from Spain in 1810; and the sweeping progress of economic growth and cultural change that made Argentina, by the turn of the twentieth century, the most modern country in Latin America. The bulk of the collection focuses on the twentieth century: on the popular movements that enabled Peronism and the revolutionary dreams of the 1960s and 1970s; on the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 and the accompanying culture of terror and resistance; and, finally, on the contradictory and disconcerting tendencies unleashed by the principles of neoliberalism and the new global economy. The book also includes a list of suggestions for further reading.
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