Argentina is known as a “country of immigrants” yet simultaneously grapples with entrenched xenophobia. My research untangles this apparent contradiction by revealing how both facets of national identity are rooted in racialized colonial ideology. Following independence in 1816, Argentine elites used immigration policies to justify the exploitation of Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities and subsequent European repopulation. Elites converted non-Europeans into cultural “foreigners” by erasing them from the country’s national identity, and I use foreign policy frameworks to demonstrate how leaders have consistently wielded immigration as a political tool to further their own objectives. I argue that the lack of political representation has allowed colonial-era prejudices to remain largely unquestioned. Using a foundation of critical race and postcolonial theory, my thesis incorporates 18 months of historical research and interviews with some of the most influential stakeholders in Argentine immigration to tell a story about the power to define a country’s peoples.
Fortunoff, Willow, "The Power to Define a People: Race and Immigration in Argentine National Identity" (2021). Political Science Honors Projects. 89.
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