Historiography of Argentina

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The Historiography of Argentina is composed of the works of the authors that have written about the History of Argentina. The first historiographical works are usually considered to be those by Bartolomé Mitre and other authors from the middle 19th century. [1]

Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches. Scholars discuss historiography by topic—such as the historiography of the United Kingdom, that of Canada, the British Empire, early Islam, and China—and different approaches and genres, such as political history and social history. Beginning in the nineteenth century, with the ascent of academic history, there developed a body of historiographic literature. The extent to which historians are influenced by their own groups and loyalties—such as to their nation state—is a debated question.

Argentina federal republic in South America

Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. With a mainland area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi), Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the fourth largest in the Americas, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation. The sovereign state is subdivided into twenty-three provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires, which is the federal capital of the nation as decided by Congress. The provinces and the capital have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The history of Argentina can be divided into four main parts: the pre-Columbian time or early history, the colonial period (1530–1810), the period of nation-building (1810-1880), and the history of modern Argentina.



Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina, one of the first books about the History of Argentina Historia de Belgrano.jpg
Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina, one of the first books about the History of Argentina

The pre-Columbian indigenous populations of Argentina did not develop writing, and had no written records of events. There have been written records of events since the time of the first European arrivals to Argentine territory, but most of them were referred to ongoing events or very close ones and are not considered to be real historiographical works.

Writing representation of language in a textual medium; tool developed by human society

Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a complement to speech or spoken language. Writing is not a language, but a tool used to make languages be read. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary, grammar, and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols. The result of writing is called text, and the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, storytelling, correspondence, record keeping and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, maintaining culture, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.

The first authors to write about events long past were the members of the "'37 Generation", romantic authors born by the time of the May Revolution, who were educated in the time of the unitarian government of Bernardino Rivadavia. By that time they received a Laity education and shared studies with students from other provinces, which promoted in them a national view over a localist one. At first they tried to act as an enlightened influence beyond the unitarian-federalist dichotomy, but the increased strengthening of the policies of Juan Manuel de Rosas made most of them flee into exile to foreign countries. Thus, those authors are considered with care, as they were distant enough from the events of the Argentine War of Independence but still contemporary of the Argentine Civil War and the government of Rosas, making their opinions about the later to be of a political nature. Those authors tried to adapt the European Romantic nationalism to the Argentine context, and develop a national identity. As they despised both Rosas and the Spanish heritage, they aimed their efforts in glorifying the events and peoples of the Revolution.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

May Revolution 1810 revolution in Buenos Aires

The May Revolution was a week-long series of events that took place from May 18 to 25, 1810, in Buenos Aires, capital of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. This Spanish colony included roughly the territories of present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil. The result was the removal of Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros and the establishment of a local government, the Primera Junta, on May 25. It was the first successful revolution in the South American Independence process.

Bernardino Rivadavia first president of Argentine

Bernardino de la Trinidad González Rivadavia y Rivadavia was the first President of Argentina, then called the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, from February 8, 1826 to June 27, 1827.

One of the first works done for this purpose was Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina (Spanish : History of Belgrano and of the Independence of Argentina), by Bartolomé Mitre. This book was criticized by Vicente Fidel López, Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield or Juan Bautista Alberdi, who would wrote other books in answer, and Mitre would reply with more books strengthening his perspectives. Rómulo Carbia described this dispute in 1925 as a dispute between "philosophists" and "erudits", with Vicente López, Lucio López and José Manuel Estrada in the first group and Mitre, Luis Domínguez, Paul Groussac the new historical school and Carbia himself. [2] Such book was used for self-affiliation and legitimization, but became canonical afterwards. [3]

<i>Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina</i> book by Bartolomé Mitre

Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina is an Argentine history book written by Bartolomé Mitre. It is mainly a biography of Manuel Belgrano, but the author expanded the scope into the whole Argentine War of Independence, where Belgrano was involved. It was the first book about the history of Argentina, and as such it was the starting point of the historiography of Argentina. It includes as well the autobiography of Manuel Belgrano, which was published by the first time in this book.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Bartolomé Mitre President of Argentina

Bartolomé Mitre Martínez was an Argentine statesman, military figure, and author. He was the President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868.


The first centennial of the May Revolution was a period of transition. Three new concerns were added to the historiographical view: the social, political and national issue:

Ramos Mejía City in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

Ramos Mejía is a city in La Matanza Partido, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. The city has an area of 11.9 km2 (4.6 sq mi) and a population of 98,547. The city is one of the largest commercial districts in the Western Zone of Greater Buenos Aires.

Historiography would take two main divergent paths since then. On one side, the state would sponsor Ricardo Levene and the National Academy of History into writing a definitive and unquestionable version of national history, which follows the most important basic features of the one designed by Mitre and was deemed as "official history" because of its state-sponsored nature. The opposing viewpoint was held by a number of revisionist authors, who wrote the history of Argentina from an anti-imperialist perspective. Those authors restored the image of Juan Manuel de Rosas, rejected by previous authors, considering him an example of defense of national sovereignty. Former national heroes like Bernardino Rivadavia, Justo José de Urquiza, Bartolomé Mitre and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento were accused instead of favoring foreign imperialism. The concepts about the revolutionary period, on the other hand, weren't modified very much, and José de San Martín was exalted as strongly as by their historiographical adversaries.

In historiography, the term historical revisionism identifies the re-interpretation of the historical record. It usually means challenging the orthodox views held by professional scholars about a historical event, introducing contrary evidence, or reinterpreting the motivations and decisions of the people involved. The revision of the historical record can reflect new discoveries of fact, evidence, and interpretation, which then provokes a revised history. In dramatic cases, revisionism involves a reversal of older moral judgments.

Anti-imperialism in political science and international relations is a term used in a variety of contexts, usually by nationalist movements who want to secede from a larger polity or as a specific theory opposed to capitalism in Marxist–Leninist discourse, derived from Vladimir Lenin's work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A less common usage is by supporters of a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Juan Manuel de Rosas Argentine politician

Juan Manuel de Rosas, nicknamed "Restorer of the Laws", was a politician and army officer who ruled Buenos Aires Province and briefly the Argentine Confederation. Although born into a wealthy family, Rosas independently amassed a personal fortune, acquiring large tracts of land in the process. Rosas enlisted his workers in a private militia, as was common for rural proprietors, and took part in the disputes that led to numerous civil wars in his country. Victorious in warfare, personally influential, and with vast landholdings and a loyal private army, Rosas became a caudillo, as provincial warlords in the region were known. He eventually reached the rank of brigadier general, the highest in the Argentine Army, and became the undisputed leader of the Federalist Party.

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Argentine Confederation 1831–1861 republic in South America

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Historiography of the May Revolution

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1837 generation

The 1837 generation was an Argentine intellectual movement named after the date a literary hall with most of its members was established. Influenced by the new romantic ideas, they rejected the cultural Spanish heritage of the country. They did not acknowledge any national roots in the indigenous peoples or the period of European colonization, focusing instead on the Revolution as the birth of the country, as it gave them freedom, the possibility to behave as free people. They considered themselves "sons of the May Revolution", they were born shortly after it, and wrote some of the earliest Argentine literary works.

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Juan Manuel de Rosas was a controversial Governor of Buenos Aires Province during the Argentine Civil Wars. Deposed during the battle of Caseros, he spent his later life in exile in Southampton, England, where he died on March 14, 1877. He was buried at the Southampton Old Cemetery, and after a number of failed attempts he was repatriated to Argentina and taken to La Recoleta Cemetery, his current grave location.


  1. Devoto, p. 14
  2. Devoto, p. 14
  3. Devoto, p. 14-15

Further reading

In Spanish