Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights

Abstract

At the end of the 19th century through World War I, around three million immigrants entered Argentina. The vast majority left behind homes in Italy and Spain; however, a significant minority population arrived from Greater Syria, specifically from present-day Syria and Lebanon. Today, the descendents of these Syrian-Lebanese migrants make up the third largest community in Argentina. Despite the significant presence of the community, the Syrian-Lebanese community has been largely absent from scholarly work on Argentine ethnic groups.

The objective of this study is to explore the relationship that the descendents of Lebanese immigrants, living in Buenos Aires, have with Lebanon. As such, the investigation is centered on the following questions: how do members of the Lebanese community of Buenos Aires understand the political situation in the Middle East? How does this understanding of Middle Eastern affairs relate to the construction of the Lebanese identity within the community? The questions are answered based on a series of three formal interviews conducted with members of the Lebanese community of Buenos Aires, in addition to informal observations. The informal observations are based on a two-day visit to the home of one of the interviewees and a visit to the youth organization of the Lebanese Club in Buenos Aires.

First, the basic history of the Syrian-Lebanese community of Argentina is presented. In addition, a theoretical understanding of transnational communities is established. The analysis considers each interview “chronologically,” beginning with a recent immigrant and ending with the great-grandchildren of immigrants, and discusses the identity construction of each individual. Ultimately, the transnational political identity of the community does not strongly appear in the interviewees’ construction of their identity, due to the ongoing process of assimilation.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Latin American Studies | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology of Culture

 

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