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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Southern Cone: Regional Integration, Development and Social Change


During the 19th century, the black population of Buenos Aires suffered a massive demographic decline that brought their population from roughly 30% of Buenos Aires in the beginning of the century to an almost invisible fraction. According to the popular Argentine historical myths, this decline was the product of several concrete factors, most importantly an outbreak of Yellow Fever and the various wars of 19th century Argentina in which the black population suffered heavy losses. However, the demographic facts and the historical evidence do not support this explanation. The historical reality of the decline of the black population in Buenos Aires is that they were the victims of a confluence of social and political factors, including miscegenation, assimilation, integration, and a specific set of Argentine nation-building policies that sought to re-write Argentine history and identity as exclusively white. While the black community in Buenos Aires did dissolve into greater society, it did not disappear, and the evidence of this historical process remains in the genes of modern Porteños. This paper seeks to narrate the history of the black population in Buenos Aires from the 18th century to the 20th, with the objective of explaining the process of the “disappearance” of a once prominent black population fro modern Buenos Aires.


Anthropology | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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