Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Pablo Brescia, Ph.D.
Adriana Novoa, Ph.D.
Madeline Camara, Ph.D.
antología, invisibilización, cuento, indígena
This project engages with what various academics in the past twenty years have identified as a “discourse of invisibilization” that effectively erased indigenous presence from the Argentine national discourse. Following the Conquest of the Desert, a military campaign carried out between 1878 and 1879 that sought to eliminate indigenous presence in the Pampas and Patagonia, the common belief was that indigenous peoples no longer resided in Argentina. In reality thousands remained but indigenous identity and presence was effectively erased from the national discourse until the constitutional reform of 1994 which legally recognized indigenous pre-existence and articulated specific rights for the protection of indigenous communities for the first time in the country's history.
This study engages with the manifestation of this discourse of invisibilization in Argentine literature, looking first at the representation of the indigenous figure by early political writers such as Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Juan Bautista Alberdi and Jose Hernandez as the barbaric savage, incompatible with modern civilization and Argentine values. Following the Campaign of Desert, the belief that indigenous peoples had been wiped out was reflected and informed in Argentine literature where the indigenous figure remained most commonly represented as an element of the past, remembered as the savage that attacked early Argentine settlements or as the last of an extinct culture that faded away with the advance of modern civilization. The recent work of Maria del Carmen Nicolás Alba argues that this invisibilization extends into literary criticism, where the participation of Argentine writers during the literary current of indigenismo has been ignored, silencing the few who denounced the treatment of indigenous people in Argentine society.
In response to these tendencies, this project brings together an anthology of short stories by Argentine writers that challenged the dominant discourse. The story “Si haces mal no esperes bien” by Juana Manuela Gorriti is included to highlight her role in the development of indigenismo, as demonstrated in Alba’s work. The stories "El malón" by Manuel Ugarte and “La historia del guerrero y de la cautiva" by Jorge Luis Borges offer alternative representations of the indigenous literary figure in the historical narrative. The focus of others, however, such as "La sonrisa de Puca-Puca" y "Don Carlos y Chayle" by Fausto Burgos and "Allá en el Sur" by Pedro Inchauspe reveal and denounce the unjust social norms faced by indigenous people in the time in which they were written. The story “Una bofetada” by Horacio Quiroga employs the abused indigenous worker as the source of suspense that builds up to the horrific ending typical of his work, but the story also serves to highlight the social reality on which it was based. The last story in this anthology, “Caramelos para los mocovíes” by Fernando Rosemberg addresses the discourse of invisibilization and how it perpetuates the social and economic inequality of indigenous communities. The reading of Argentine voices from the late 19th century to the present day that have defied the oversimplified indigenous narrative provides a space for the revisibilization as well as the rehumanization of a segment of the population that has been silenced and ignored in Argentine society for more than a century.
Scholar Commons Citation
Robinson, Jennie R., "Siempre hemos vivido aquí: la figura literaria del indígena y la otra Argentina posible" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.