Cultural Nationalism in the Global South: The Case of Early Twentieth-Century Argentina
(St. Olaf College)
Paper short abstract:
Examines the rise of cultural nationalism in early-20th-century Argentina, which represents a key example of how societies on the receiving end of 19th-century globalization responded to the challenges posed by an externally produced modernity.
Paper long abstract:
The rise of cultural nationalism in early 20th Argentina represents a fascinating example of how societies on the receiving end of 19th globalization responded to the challenges posed by an externally produced modernity. With the advent of new technologies that allowed for improved shipping and transatlantic communications, the country became Europe's foremost supplier of beef, grains and wool. The resulting export boom made Argentina a preferred destination for both British capital and millions of Europeans, and rapidly thrust the country into the modern age. These changes provoked a strong reaction from a new generation of Argentine intellectuals known as the cultural nationalists, who called for the defense of lo argentino and the protection of the country's supposedly authentic cultural values. In doing so, they launched a cultural movement that had a broad and enduring impact on how Argentines understood their nation's identity and its place in the international arena. This paper will explore the key tenets of early- twentieth-century cultural nationalism, including: the rejection of 19th positivism, which the cultural nationalists saw as an imported, scientifically-based philosophy at odds with the supposedly inherent idealism of the Argentine people; the celebration of the Argentine "folk," with a particular focus on the nineteenth-century creole "gaucho" or cowboy; the call for the cultivation of an authentically national literature and art that would reflect the supposedly unique character of the Argentine "soul;"the rejection of universalism and the Romantically-inspired belief that each nation formed a distinctive ethno-cultural community.
Closing the door on globalization: cultural nationalism and scientific internationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries