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The Age of Youth in Argentina

The Age of Youth in Argentina: Culture, Politics, and Sexuality from Perón to Videla

Valeria Manzano
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 354
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  • Book Info
    The Age of Youth in Argentina
    Book Description:

    This social and cultural history of Argentina's "long sixties" argues that the nation's younger generation was at the epicenter of a public struggle over democracy, authoritarianism, and revolution from the mid-twentieth century through the ruthless military dictatorship that seized power in 1976. Valeria Manzano demonstrates how, during this period, large numbers of youths built on their history of earlier activism and pushed forward closely linked agendas of sociocultural modernization and political radicalization.Focusing also on the views of adults who assessed, and sometimes profited from, youth culture, Manzano analyzes countercultural formations--including rock music, sexuality, student life, and communal living experiences--and situates them in an international context. She details how, while Argentines of all ages yearned for newness and change, it was young people who championed the transformation of deep-seated traditions of social, cultural, and political life. The significance of youth was not lost on the leaders of the rising junta: people aged sixteen to thirty accounted for 70 percent of the estimated 20,000 Argentines who were "disappeared" during the regime.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1162-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Introduction THE AGE OF YOUTH
    (pp. 1-19)

    In September 1966, the weekly magazineConfirmadopublished a long “report on youth” to explore whether or not a “unified youth consciousness and experience” had spread in Argentina like, the reporter posited, it had in postwar Europe. The answer was not conclusive. On the one hand, the reporter claimed that “only by fantasizing could one view a link between Rubén, twenty-five, a construction worker who migrated from Santiago del Estero to the Greater Buenos Aires area, and Ricardo, twenty-one, an entrepreneur from downtown Buenos Aires.” Moreover, he found even fewer connections between them and Ana, seventeen, a secondary school student...

  5. 1 Carving Out a Place for Youth
    (pp. 20-43)

    In 1962, in an article published by the journal of the University of Buenos Aires (uba), psychiatrist Telma Reca noted the rising interest in youth developed within “the journalistic, scientific, and cinematographic milieus.” While observing that mounting interest, she concluded that in Argentina “everybody is talking about youth; everybody has something to say.”¹ Reca was a prominent speaker about youth, both as an expert in the media and as a professor at the uba, where she trained the first cohorts of psychologists on adolescence and youth issues, terms that during that period, for the most part, were interchangeable. The psychological...

  6. 2 The World of the Students
    (pp. 44-68)

    Increasing numbers of youths between thirteen and twenty-four years of age gained access to secondary schools and universities in the 1950s and 1960s. The vast matriculation of newcomers in the education system signaled the most basic dimension of the sociocultural modernization Argentines lived through: a porous and accelerated dynamic that held the schools and colleges as privileged sites. Yet looking at this dynamic from the vantage point of the student experience at both levels shows deep ambivalences. While secondary schools were sites for the developing of new peer-based sociability, they continued enforcing authoritarian practices and pedagogies. The experience of the...

  7. 3 Surfing the New Wave MUSIC, LEISURE, AND CONSUMPTION
    (pp. 69-96)

    In February of 1963, Argentina’s oldest women’s magazine,Para Ti, published a test for its readers to determine whether they belonged to thenueva ola, or “new wave.” The test asked the readers, among other questions, whether they preferred dancing to the twist and listening to rock more than other musical styles, going out in peer groups rather than with just a couple of friends, and wearing blue jeans and sweaters instead of skirts and blouses. If the responses were positive, the reader belonged to the “new wave,” which was “healthy and normal” for those under twenty-two years old.¹ Doubtless,...

    (pp. 97-122)

    On May 29, 1962, Norma Penjerek, age seventeen, left her apartment in a traditional lower-middle-class neighborhood in Buenos Aires to attend a private English class. Her class ended at 7:30 p.m., yet she never came home. On June 1, her parents filed a missing-persons report. In mid-July, forensic tests confirmed their worst fears: a body found in the outskirts of Buenos Aires was identified as hers. What had happened to Norma Penjerek? After a year had passed with no significant news, in July of 1963 a sex worker declared to a judge that Norma had fallen into the “trap” of...

  9. 5 A Fraternity of Long-Haired Boys ROCK AND A YOUTH CULTURE OF CONTESTATION
    (pp. 123-157)

    Some days after the coup d’état led by General Juan Carlos Onganía in 1966, the rock trio Los Beatniks recorded a simple album with Columbia Broadcasting System (cbs). The leading voice, Moris, composed the lyrics, including those to the song “Rebelde.” “People call me the rebel,” he wrote, “because rebel is my heart / I am free / and they want to make / a slave of tradition / out of me.” As cbs was not interested in promoting their work, Los Beatniks moved ahead and organized a promotional party that ended with all of its members semi-naked at a...

  10. 6 Close to the Revolution THE POLITICIZATION OF YOUTH
    (pp. 158-192)

    How did young women and men become involved with the most radicalized variations of Argentine politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s? Which ideas and images helped propel and shape that involvement? And, finally, why was Peronism the political movement that seemed to benefit the most from the politicization of youth? There is a common theme that cuts across the possible answers to these three overarching questions, namely, the ways in which middle- and working-class youth questioned the ideological and political bases of the dynamics of sociocultural modernization that Argentines went through in the 1960s. The cohort of youth...

    (pp. 193-220)

    In preparation for the coming of the spring of 1966, an ad for Sportline jackets addressed a male readership with a challenging and alluring statement: “only if you brought together a guerrilla’s audacity and a playboy’s affluence, would you be ready to dress Sportline.” Six years after that ad,Para Tiintroduced its young female readers to the changing fashions for the summer of 1972. It produced a photographic report in which two models exhibited new dress items (high-heeled boots and tight short pants) and colors, notably brown and olive green. The title for the report could not have been...

  12. 8 Youth and the “Authority-Reconstitution” Project
    (pp. 221-247)

    In late 1975, when the civilian government of Isabel Martínez de Perón had already authorized the military to repress social and political activities, groups of neighbors from Buenos Aires and from the distant city of Comodoro Rivadavia wrote to the minister of the interior asking for more security in their communities, which they viewed as threatened by youths engaged either in “subversive actions,” “drug consumption,” “sexual orgies,” or all of the above.¹ They created a link between youth, sexually and culturally deviant practices, and subversion—the main characteristics of the “enemy within” that jeopardized the fabric of the national body...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 248-256)

    Soon after the imposition of the military junta in 1976, diverse organizations domestically and abroad started campaigning to denounce the massive, state-led violation of human rights. These organizations publicized the implementation of the mechanisms of kidnapping, torturing, and “disappearing” thousands of people. Amnesty International and the Argentine Commission on Human Rights abroad, the Argentine League for Human Rights and the incipient Mothers of Plaza de Mayo at home, all produced rosters listing “disappeared” people. They organized the rosters by occupational criteria (like disappeared lawyers or university students) and demographic data, including one of “disappeared adolescents.” Both during the dictatorship and...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 257-300)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 301-330)
  16. Index
    (pp. 331-338)