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Friday
Aug082008

Afro-Argentine Identity

When I tell most people here in Argentina or people from other parts of the world that I am here studying Afro-argentine identity, I mostly get a confused look, a question wondering if they heard me correctly, or a simple response saying, “pero no hay negros acá” (but there are no blacks here.) The stereotype to the world and to Argentina itself is that Argentina is the whitest, most European nation in Latin America. One rarely hears of the mestizaje, the mix of European, indigenous people, and Africans brought over from slave trade which is dominant in Latin America, when talking about Argentina. However, I am slowly discovering that there is much more to the story. 

Argentina’s government and leaders throughout history have worked to whiten the country to uphold a “European” ideal in Latin America. In doing so, they have effectively erased any trace of African influence or presence in the country. This has made it so that the majority of the population does not know that tango, perhaps Argentina’s most famous contribution to the world, derives from candombe, an Afro-argentine dance which has roots in the Congo or that Argentine parrilla, the most famous process of cooking meats on a grill, came from Afro-argentine practices. However, very pleasingly, Afro-argentines along with African immigrants are trying to reclaim their past in the country and demonstrate Afro-argentine contributions to Argentine culture and society. 

I was lucky enough to attend the Movimiento de la Diáspora Africana en Argentina, a weekend-long event promoting Afro-argentine and African culture in Argentina. The event, led by the African Diaspora in Argentina, was littered with numerous cultural productions including an African story telling session for children, Afro dances from all over Latin America and Africa, musical performances from the Afro community in Argentina, and perhaps most important, numerous discussions about the future of the Afro community in Argentina, possible problems, and the goals of the movement. I came away impressed at the entire weekend’s activities. The African Diaspora in Argentina struggles to gain visibility in the public and they are all in it to gain recognition from the government and the society itself. The event’s main goal was to unite the Afro community in Argentina while also presenting to the public their cultural practices and their importance and contributions to Argentina. I think it did well in both. There had been many divisions, and there still exists many divisions within the Afro community, but for one weekend, everybody united and presented a unified movement to the public while mapping out a plan of attack for the future. It was very inspiring to see people who Argentina wants to forget and erase come together to try to fight the powers that strive to keep them quiet. There remains a great deal of work to be done, and the movement is at its beginning stages, but it is setting the foundation for the future, hopefully a future where the Afro-argentine population and their contributions to the past and present will be recognized in Argentine society and their history be taught to the future generations of this country. 

Reader Comments (4)

informative blog..good to know the African roots in Argentina...Our hearty wishes for the Afro community in Argentina to flourish....Keep Going...Good luck.....

Very interesting and informative. Being an Afro American, I wish I would of been able to attend or knew about the group while I was there (I left in June 2008). Please keep me posted and good luck!

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Thanks for sharing wonderful information, I really enjoyed this article and wish more contents on the topic.
Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

March 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjulius

thanks a lot dear, im very interesting for your article. im very impresing for this :)

jasa iklan

April 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjasa iklan

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