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Argentina: Stories for a Nation

Amy K. Kaminsky
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Amy K. Kaminsky explores Argentina’s unique national identity and the place it holds in the minds of those who live beyond its physical borders. To analyze the country’s meaning in the global imagination, Kaminsky probes Argentina’s presence in a broad range of literary texts from the United States, Poland, England, Western Europe, and Argentina itself, as well as internationally produced films, advertisements, and newspaper features.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5655-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Bartered Butterflies
    (pp. 1-17)

    Let us begin with the story of two women. Victoria Ocampo, the Argentine creator ofSur, one of her country’s longest-lived literary and cultural journals, recalls in a memoir how Virginia Woolf asked her to describe the blue butterflies of the pampas, butterflies that Ocampo had never seen and that probably had never lighted on any pampas flowers. To please Woolf, whom she idolized, Ocampo made the British writer a gift of a set of mounted and framed butterflies, feeding the fantasy that would give her entry into Woolf’s company. She would trade butterflies and the fanciful Argentina they represented...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Identity Narratives; or, It Takes Two to Tango
    (pp. 18-34)

    Imperialism, colonialism, Eurocentrism, and Orientalism are keywords in a discourse of resistance to practices of othering, exploitation, and incorporation. The imperial quest for power and the colonial exploitation of people and resources are historical facts rationalized and justified by the worldview of Orientalizers and Eurocentrists, and the negative charge of the words describing these exercises is unmistakable.¹ Globalization may be added to this list of keywords, with the caveat that it is not only descriptive of a process of distribution of power but also an interpretive stance about that process that makes it seem benign. The language of globalization, perhaps...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Imperial Anxieties
    (pp. 35-50)

    Trying to map the relations of global dominance on an East–West axis ends in frustration. Such a crude compass is insufficient to name the complex relationships among the nations and the regions of the world. Enrique Dussel, for example, contends that Africa and Latin America are left out of the East-West construct altogether, but it is just as reasonable to maintain that they are fitfully, multiply, and contradictorily integrated into it. Africa is in part simply “dark” and unknowable in the familiar racist construction, but it is also “East” insofar as Arabian and Persian North Africa comprise the Middle...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Europe’s Uncanny Other
    (pp. 51-69)

    Argentina, we might say, lives at the tip of the collective unconscious of the North. Its land mass stretches down almost to Antarctica, but even its temperate parts are too far away for everyday travel. It does not have the weighty history of Greece or Rome, or the centuries of exotic kingdoms of China, nor is its capital immediately familiar in the way of New York, Paris, and London. Nevertheless, Argentina is a not entirely blank screen on which European desire and fear are projected. Argentina serves as a familiar other, a foggy mirror to Europeans concerned about their own...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Victoria Ocampo and the Keyserling Effect
    (pp. 70-98)

    Tierra del Fuego was probably as exotic to Victoria Ocampo as it was to the eastern European Jews who imagined it from Poland. Her Argentina, the one she proffered to numerous foreign writers, was most decidedly the urbane world of Buenos Aires and the grand country houses of its wealthiest families. Ocampo and her literary magazineSurwere, for good or ill, and probably for both, critical players in the development of Argentina in the consciousness of the creators of European high modernism. Ocampo began her travels in Europe as a girl, and with each return to Europe as an...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Race for National Identity
    (pp. 99-121)

    At the tail end of the twentieth century, archeologists working with artifacts at the Ethnographic Museum in Göteborg, Sweden, began studying two masks made by indigenous people living in what is now Mendoza, in northwestern Argentina. Because they were in such good condition, the masks had been thought to have been made some two to three centuries back, but carbon dating proved that hypothesis wrong. The masks were, in fact, 2,500 years old. Other recent findings include proof of an ancient human presence in Argentine territory in various parts of the country, the oldest being 12,000-year-old remains in Patagonia, as...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Other Within
    (pp. 122-137)

    In her study of Victoria Ocampo’s autobiographical writings, María Cristina Arambel-Güiñazú creatively misreads Carlos Fuentes, who notes the Porteño need to come to self-consciousness via language. Fuentes writes:

    Buenos Aires needs to name itself to know that it exists, to invent itself a past, to imagine a future for itself: unlike Mexico City or Lima, a simple visual reference to the signs of historic prestige is not enough for it. . . . Could there be anything more Argentine than this necessity to verbally fill these empty spaces, to take recourse in all the world’s libraries to fill the blank...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Outlaw Jews of Buenos Aires
    (pp. 138-157)

    For Sholem Aleichem, Judith Katz, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, Argentina is not the place of untroubled Jewish assimilation that it is in the fictions of Dominique Bona and Antonio Muñoz Molina.¹ Rather, the nation as they write it emblematizes the Jew as outsider. Moreover, this is an outsiderness exacerbated by its outlaw nature. Unlike Argentine Jewish writers, who have historically wrestled with the issue of assimilation and identity, in part to demonstrate their suitability as Argentine citizens and in part as a symptom of their concern over the prospect of losing their own cultural identity, Jewish writers from outside Argentina...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Dirty War Stories
    (pp. 158-182)

    To many casual U.S. and European observers, the military dictatorship that controlled Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s was just another in a series of calamitous governments that have plagued the continent since independence. These dictatorships have been represented as vaguely comic: Woody Allen’sBananasparodies the cliché of revolution in what have disdainfully been referred to as banana republics, confusing Central America with South America and one nation with another; and Paul Mazursky’sMoon over Paradordoes the same. Kirk Anderson’s political comic strip lampoons George W. Bush by portraying him as an especially inept, violent, and petulant South...

  14. CHAPTER TEN Violent Exclusions
    (pp. 183-202)

    V. S. Naipaul is not the only outsider whose view of Argentina and its generals is more jaundiced than outraged. Actor and filmmaker Robert Duvall takes a similar stance in his filmAssassination Tango. They differ in that Naipaul’s conservatism is considered and deliberate, while Duvall’s is an effect of ignoring the political implications of the story he is telling. Although it posits and depicts residual violence in the aftermath of the Dirty War,Assassination Tangois much less about the first word of its title than the second. The Dirty War is simply a hook on which Duvall, as...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Persistence of Memory
    (pp. 203-230)

    Memory may be tenacious, but, as in the Salvador Dalí painting whose title inspired that of this chapter, it mutates in and into dreamscape. Clocks melt out of shape and swarm with ants, sterile but still menacing. The images are sharp-edged, but they do not affect transparency or pretend to represent quotidian reality. Similarly, as a projection and at its most desirable, Argentina provides the raw material for the manufacture of a dreamscape for the European imagination. The film version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber’sEvita, starring pop icon and cultural studies heroine Madonna, handily illustrates this phenomenon....

  16. Notes
    (pp. 231-260)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-274)
  18. Index
    (pp. 275-282)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-283)