Identity and Nationalism in Modern Argentina

  • Defending the True Nation

  • by Jeane DeLaney

  • 486 pages, 6.00 x 9.00

  • Paperback | 9780268107901 | June 2020

  • Hardcover | 9780268107895 | June 2020

  • eBook (EPUB) | 9780268107918 | June 2020

  • eBook (PDF) | 9780268107925 | June 2020


Nationalism has played a uniquely powerful role in Argentine history, in large part due to the rise and enduring strength of two variants of anti-liberal nationalist thought: one left-wing and identifying with the “people,” and the other right-wing and identifying with Argentina’s Catholic heritage. Although embracing very different political programs, the leaders of these two forms of nationalism shared the belief that the country’s nineteenth-century liberal elites had betrayed the country by seeking to impose an alien ideology at odds with the supposedly true nature of the Argentine people. The result, in their view, was an ongoing conflict between the “false Argentina” of the liberals and the “authentic” or real nation of true Argentines. Despite their commonalities, scholarship has yet to pay significant attention to the interconnections between these two variants of Argentine nationalism. Identity and Nationalism in Modern Argentina fills this gap. In this study, Jeane DeLaney explores the origins and development of Argentina’s two forms of nationalism by linking nationalist thought to ongoing debates over Argentine identity. Part I of this study considers the period before 1930, examining the emergence and spread of new essentialist ideas of national identity during the age of mass immigration. Part II analyzes the rise of nationalist movements after 1930, focusing more narrowly on individuals who self-identified as nationalists.

DeLaney links the rise of Argentina’s anti-liberal nationalist movements to the shock of early twentieth-century immigration. She examines how pressures posed by the newcomers led to the weakening of the traditional ideal of Argentina as a civic community and the rise of new ethno-cultural understandings of national identity. This study demonstrates that national identities are neither unitary nor immutable, and how citizens imagine their nation has crucial implications for how they perceive immigrants and whether they believe domestic minorities to be full-fledged members of the national community. Given the recent surge of anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and the United States, this study will be of interest to scholars of nationalism, political science, Latin American political thought and the contemporary history of Argentina.