Continuity and Change: National Identity in Twenty-First-Century Argentine Culture
Wenz, Steven Benjamin
This dissertation studies the representation of national identity in twenty-first-century Argentine culture. I examine how and to what extent the 2001 economic and political crisis, often understood as a turning point in the country’s history, has affected discussions of Argentina’s role in the world and of what it means to be Argentine. Through a study of texts produced during the period from 2003 to 2014, I argue that both change and continuity have characterized the representation of national identity over the last decade. New interpretations of the country’s identity, which flourished in the climate of self-reflection that followed the crisis, exist alongside conceptions of the nation that have their roots in the nineteenth century. My analysis centers on socioeconomic and “racial” identification. I contend that, although the 2001 collapse undermined the notion of Argentina as “Europe in South America,” highlighting the country’s structural and cultural connections with the rest of the subcontinent, the long-standing notion of a stable, middle-class Argentina retains its symbolic power. In similar fashion, I find that, although the events of 2001 opened up a space for historically marginalized groups, such as Afro-Argentines and indigenous peoples, to demand increased visibility in the national imagined community, the Eurocentric view of Argentina remains prevalent. I reach these conclusions by examining multiple forms of media and different spheres of society: novels and short stories by the contemporary authors Ariel Bermani, Patricio Pron, and Washington Cucurto; television commercials and promotional videos for the Argentine national soccer team; and tourist industry materials and a literary anthology from the Northwest region of Argentina, strongly associated with indigenous heritage.