Author:Cédric Masse (Research Centre on Political Action - University of Lausanne)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the idealist discourses and materialist practices of inhabitants of an Argentinean slum situated in Buenos Aires, their relationships with the making of local identities and differences, and their connections to institutions of power like the State and external actors.
Paper long abstract:
Based on ethnographic fieldwork realized in an Argentinean slum located in Buenos Aires - among its inhabitants, their organizations and social movements in 2005 - this paper analyses the local and ideological representations, the concrete actions of everyday life, their links with the formation of specific identities and differences, and their interactions with power like the State, international NGOs and the capitalist system in general. So, it studies both real and ideal experiences and their association with identities, differences and power.
The development of the slums in Argentina was the result of a fast process of urbanization and industrialization which started for this country in the 1930s. The capital, Buenos Aires, was converted in the surroundings as the main focus of concentration of the new factories and consequently attracted several waves of migrants from the interior who installed themselves close to them in the abandoned countryside to form the slums. Throughout their history until now, the Argentinean slums were a typical space of alterity. They and their inhabitants were continuously in confrontation against power and excluded from the rest of the Argentinean society. They were the scenery of the constant formation of alternative identities and differences throughout the local discourses and the real practices. I propose to examine these issues in more detail in my paper.
The power of identities and differences in Latin America