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Migration of Ethnic Groups within Cordoba Province (Argentina) during Political Crises Following the Colonial Period

This paper analyzes the composition and pattern of migration within Cordoba province during the period of the Argentinean wars of independence. Studied are the two largest ethnic groups (Spanish and Mixed) using information provided by the census of 1813. Correlations between migration estimates are analyzed. The results obtained indicate that migrants were predominately males, the rest consisting of women and children. Movement took place generally from town to distant localities and the proportion of Spanish and Mixed migrants entering both areas was similar. Men, women and children migrated in comparable numbers, thus suggesting a family migration pattern. Correlation between the proportions of migrants among geographic units indicates equivalent patterns of men, women and children as well as ethno-social categories (Spanish or Mixed). One of the main factors determining migration could be the political and economic instability of Cordoba following the Colonial Period.


Migration by sex and age, family patterns, post Colonial period, Cordoba, Argentina


Literature on migration is extensive, but largely of a diversified nature because of the variety of disciplinary viewpoints employed and the traditional distinction among migration at different scales (Roseman, 1971). Another factor fragmenting the literature is the perspective from which migration is analyzed, usually divided into two approaches: the first, a theoretical proposition of the equilibrium model, referring primarily to individual choices inside the economizing behavior that takes place in a given market context; and the second, the historical-structural perspective referring to the social and political matrix and conditions that make certain choices possible (Wood, 1982).

Managing historical sources of the personal decisions of migrants is generally unavailable and generally only certain characteristics of migrants can be analyzed. These characteristics should be put in the context of political, economic, social and geographic organization at the time Migration should be viewed as the result of those forces interacting with local conditions (Brown, 1985).

From any perspective, time also introduces a dimension of conflict. Analysts disagree whether migration may be legitimately studied in synchronic terms or whether a diachronical, historical perspective is required (Massey, 1990). However, the approach depends also on the data available. The source of most historical migration data is census material which allows only a synchronical view.

Moreover, distinct topics should be considered in the analysis of migration. These are the different situations of migration which are under various degrees of voluntary and external control, going from relatively footloose unconstrained migrations to constrained, forced migrations (Desbarats, 1983). And although most migration theories emphasize economic factors at the expense of coercive elements, some theorists take into account cultural, ethnic, and political influences (Wood, 1994).

Different situations and factors are always involved in movements of people depending on the region and the time. Researchers have attempted to explain or predict migration through use of limited number of “push” factors at origin and “pull” factors at destination (O'Rourke, 1972). Kunz (1973) placed many historical refugee flows within a “kinetic” model in which “outside forces” act to “push” refugees out of an unstable area and establish as the first factor the political instability, war, and persecution.

In Latin America during the Spanish colonial period, migration was a general phenomenon involving all local ethnic groups and social classes. Spalding (1975) reports that by 1750, in provinces extending from Cuzco to Bolivia, 40–60% of the residents were immigrants, who had no right to community resources. Although this migration was predominately masculine (Robinson, 1989) women migrated alone or with their children (Socolow, 2004).

Common population movements during the Colonial period in Latin America may have been intensified by unstable political situations caused by wars of independence. In registers, references to “foreigners” are frequently found to designate individuals arriving from beyond the limits of the community, often escaping from political and military pressure.

In Argentina instability followed the establishment of the first independent government in 1810, as well as social and economic depression due to the loss of markets in the Alto Perú (López, 2006). At that time Cordoba province lost its former preeminence due to decaying business with the mining region of Potosí (Perú) and the progressively greater economic importance of the Litoral and Buenos Aires zones. These areas attracted migrants from other provinces, including Cordoba (Garavaglia and Moreno, 1993). During this period the revolutionary army was organized in several areas of the country. The war of independence and resulting civil conflicts produced forced recruitment and compulsory contribution of goods to the army. Heavy migration was motivated by exile and desertion (López, 2006). At that time, even rural priests attributed to the above factors in registers both intra and inter provincial migration (Tell, 2005). Spanish, Indians and Black slaves as well as Mixed groups (“castas”) were involved in these migratory processes.

The 1813 census and others of the 19th century are useful in order to know changes of residence in the Spanish colonies. They provide information about members of the household: sex, age, ethnic group, civil status, condition (free or slave) and place of origin. Census data, however, impose serious limitations on efforts to study causes and consequences of migration. It is impossible to determine whether the place of residence at the time of the census represents the only migratory destination or whether it is one stop in a chain of locations. It is also difficult to obtain information on socio-demographic conditions, such as marital status prior to the original exit (Curtis White et al., 2005). Moreover, data about the time when migration took place is not indicated and emigration towards localities other than those included in the census can not be determined. Another problem is that only the resident population is known, but nothing further appears about inward or outward movement. Taking into account these deficiencies, the picture of migration in Cordoba province will be partial and limited to movements between “origin” (as referred in census) and residential places within the Cordoba province limits at that censual time.

Despite these deficiencies, census data permit the inference of some characteristics of the composition of the groups migrating and the direction of movement.

The objective of this paper is to analyze the composition and pattern of migration considering men, women and children, during the period of the Argentinean wars of independence. The two largest ethnic groups of Cordoba province (Spanish and Mixed or “pardomestizos”) in 1813 are studied. Concerning these groups, the extent to which their provincial migration pattern resembles each other is determined and whether these patterns are the same for men, women and children.

Materials and Methods

The source of data was the Cordoba province 1813 census which included 71519 inhabitants occupying an area of 168,810 km2. The total population was subdivided into 16 “Curatos”, representing the ecclesiastic jurisdictions: Cordoba City (Ciu), Anejos (Ane), Calamuchita (Cal), Ischilín (Is), Pocho (Po), Punilla (Pu), Rio Seco (Ser), Rio Segundo (R2), Soto (So), Tercero Abajo (3Ao), Tercero Arriba (3Aa), Tulumba (Tu), Río Cuarto (R4) y La Carlota (LCa). Data from the other two Curatos were rejected because the place of origin was omitted from the census. With the exception of Cordoba City, the capital of the province, all of them were rural populations. Population density was low in rural Curatos (only one, San Javier, had values higher than 1 inhabitant/ km2) and in the City values surpassed 11 inhabitants/ km2.

In the present analysis census data regarding the place of origin, residence, age, sex and marital status were considered. Only the two numerically more representative ethnic categories (Spanish and Mixed, the latter including only free “pardos” y “mestizos”) were retained. The total counts for these groups are shown in Table 1 per geographic units. Because available migration data, 59887 individuals were analyzed. The other ethnic groups (Indian, Black, Mulatos and Zambos) were excluded from the present study due to the limitation of census inscriptions for some geographic units.

Table 1. Population analyzed. Geographic distribution of the ethnic groups.
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Table 1.

Population analyzed. Geographic distribution of the ethnic groups.

Because in census many birthplaces outside the Cordoba province appeared with general names (“other province”, “America”, “Europa”, etc.), only migration among provincial units could be considered in detail. However, for these general categories it was possible to evaluate with certain accuracy global migration inputs from outside the province. Information respecting the out-migration beyond the limits of the province was absent in the census. Therefore, this paper is only concerned with movement within the province of Cordoba.

Data were organized assigning to each person a code concerning age, sex, origin and place of residence. For each geographic unit it was possible to establish the proportion of immigrants from different origins: from the Cordoba province, from other provinces and from foreign countries, as well as of out-migrants to other provincial places.

Migration within a geographic unit was calculated as the proportion of individuals with origin in other areas compared to total residents. Total migration from rural to urban was also distinguished from that of the reverse direction.

To differentiate migration patterns, individuals were grouped in two age categories: children and adults, the latter separately for men and women. According to legal use in Colonial times girls younger than 12 and boys under 14 were designated as “children”. These ages defined the transition to adulthood and independence from parental control. For each place of origin and residence the proportion of migrants was obtained considering their sex and age. The comparison of proportions of migrants as a whole, and that of group (men, women and children), taking into account the geographic units, was achieved by means of Spearman correlation coefficients.

Moreover, cross tabulations of number of migrants among each specific pair of Curatos distinguished by sex groups were transformed to symmetrical matrices of similarity. In order to avoid the undesirable effect of size population heterogeneity, the Spearman correlation coefficients was employed. These matrices of similarity, based on inter-Curato exchange of migrants, were correlated by pairs to compare the migration patterns of men, women and children within the same ethnic group. This correlation of matrices was performed by means of the Mantel test (Mantel, 1967) which correlates pairs of matrices, element by element, ignoring the diagonal values representing the same population. The Z statistic and its associate probability are provided by this test.

Correspondence among migration patterns by sex and age suggest a “familial” pattern of migration (mainly parents and offspring). However, due to the fact that household members were not identified in the census and relationship between individuals was not declared, precise kinship of migrants could not be determined, and the only indirect marker was the pool of surnames among migrants.

To obtain an approximation to familial migration, the proportion of immigrants with surnames carried by more than one person (supposedly related) was therefore calculated for every Curato. Then, surnames of children and adult men provided a minimum estimate of immigrants related by kinship. Due to their high probability of possessing surnames other that those of husbands and children, adult women were excluded to avoid underestimating percentage of relatives.

Since the percentages of people sharing surnames could be influenced by the original surname configuration in the areas providing emigrants, the distribution of surnames in each area and the distribution of the same surnames in their out-migrants were compared and the correlations obtained. Of 32 correlation coefficients only one corresponding to Spanish from the City was significant, perhaps due to its larger size and cosmopolitan characteristics. These results demonstrate that surnames of out-migrants did not depend on the distribution of surnames appearing in the populations sending migrants.

Other factors could be acting on the migration pattern are the inter-region geographic distance, the population size and density. To evaluate the influence of distance, the matrices of similitude derived from the exchange of individuals among geographic units were compared with the corresponding matrix of kilometric distance by means of Mantel test. Finally, taking into account all geographic units, the relationship between the proportion of immigrants, out-migrants, population size and density was also established by correlation coefficients.

Results and Discussion

According to the total population census, women accounted for more than 53% of the total provincial population (Mixed nearly 55%) and even more in Cordoba City (62%). An excess of resident women had always been common in Cordoba (Ghirardi, 2004) but it became maximum in the period analyzed. This imbalance of sexes was the result of the current war campaigns, recruitment of soldiers (Celton, 1993; Socolow, 2004), and by a great departure of males to other Argentinean provinces, mainly east (Litoral region) and south (Buenos Aires province) for which a significant number of men was reported by Moreno (1993) to have been provided by Cordoba. A similar phenomenon was also indicated for other Argentinean provinces such as Catamarca in 1812 (Maeder, 1968) where among 36% immigrants, 25% came from Cordoba. In Tucumán province the population pyramids also show a deficit of males of ages 20–40, a decrease attributed to recruitment, desertion or massive emigration (López 2006) mainly to the Litoral (Bascary, 1999).

Table 2 shows the distribution of total Spanish and Mixed residents in Cordoba province included in the 1813 Census and the proportion of male-female migrants according to the ethnic group to which they belonged. Missing information regarding the ethnic condition was only 2.1%. The two more numerous groups (Spanish and Mixed) totaled 83.7%, while Indians were only 8.4% and Black and Mulatto represented (5.7%).

Table 2. Number of individuals considered per ethnic group and proportion of migrants (within sex) in Cordoba 1813 census.
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Table 2.

Number of individuals considered per ethnic group and proportion of migrants (within sex) in Cordoba 1813 census.

Although the total proportion of immigrants registered in the Cordoba census is low (8.6%), nearly half (48%) of them were women in the Spanish group and 53% in the Mixed. These results indicate a similar pattern of migration regardless of ethnicity or sex. Socolow (2004) states that in Spanish American colonies all ethnic and social groups migrated, including men and women, although in different patterns.

Considering Cordoba province as a whole and separating men from women and children, immigration outside provincial limits was higher for Spanish men (36%) in comparison to Mixed (3%). Percentages for foreign women and children were lower than for men: 18.0/18.9 respectively for Spanish and 0.9/1.5 for Mixed. Spanish men came mainly from outside Argentina, while women and most Mixed immigrants originated in other Argentinean provinces.

Distinguishing urban from rural environments within the province, results show that 17% individuals born in the city moved to rural Curatos (21% men and 14% women) while only 0.5% migrated from the countryside into town (0,3% men and 0.6% women). Migrants from long distances (origins other than Cordoba province) moved mostly to rural areas (approximately 75% of migrants for both sexes).

Regarding ethnic groups in Cordoba, 30% Spanish men and women born in the city migrated to the country. Migrants from the countryside generally moved among rural Curatos. Only 0.2% men and 0.3% women moved to the city. Regarding Mixed, 10% men and 6% women born in the city went to the country. Among those born in rural areas, 0.8% men and 1.3% women moved to the city; the remaining percentage migrated among rural Curatos.

These results are indicative of a general tendency to move preferentially into rural areas in the period studied. Regarding rural-urban migration, only Mixed women are evident. They correspond to the women coming to the city to serve in Spanish households as domestic servants according to Celton (1993). The urban to rural tendency was found in other Argentinean regions. For the year 1812, Bascary (1999) reported only 6% immigration into Tucuman City in comparison with higher figures of emigration.

Considering total migration, the proportions of migrants of Spanish and Mixed are similar regarding both sexes. Many of the women probably moved with their husbands.

In spite of the differences respecting long distance migration and rural-urban movement, the proportion of immigrants in each geographic unit of Cordoba province (Curatos) generally follows a similar pattern regarding Spanish and Mixed (Figure 1). The main exception is Rio Tercero Arriba, an area of large properties belonging to Spaniards, with a higher proportion of Mixed immigrants as dependent employees. La Carlota and Río Cuarto (founded in 1794) were populated with immigrants from other regions and where military expeditions were organized to defend the southern frontier from the Indians.

Figure 1. Percentage of immigrants per ethnic group and Curato.
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Figure 1.

Percentage of immigrants per ethnic group and Curato.

Similar patterns of migration involving distinct ethnic groups have been reported. Thus, in the United States from 1960 to 1980, Sandefur and Jeon (1991) found migration patterns in Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics that resemble those of Whites, at least in terms of regional gains and losses of inhabitants.

Although socio-historical studies for colonial times in Cordoba report clear segregative behavior of the White population respecting the other ethnic categories (López, 2006), the present results show a close pattern of migration both in Spanish and Mixed. An explanation for this migratory structure could be the occurrence at that time of a “whiting” process which allowed Mixed individuals to be accepted as White (Ghirardi, 2004). These individuals, therefore, appeared in the census within the White category. But similitude in behaviour can not be discarded, since according to Bischoff (1977) the “pardos” group (Mixed in this paper) was at the time considered socially closer to Spanish. A number of papers comparing patterns of mate choice, consanguinity and kinship from surnames analysis have shown coincident results for White and Mixed ethnic groups (Colantonio et al., 2002, 2006, 2007, Küffer and Colantonio, 2005).

Figure 2. Percentage of Spanish immigrants: adult men, women and children.
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Figure 2.

Percentage of Spanish immigrants: adult men, women and children.

Subdividing the population by sex and age (adults and children), Figures 2 and 3 show that Spanish and Mixed maintained a similar pattern of immigration in each population, with the exception of Rio Tercero Arriba. Regarding Spaniards, the greatest difference between sexes corresponded to Cordoba City where an excess of masculine immigration from areas external to the province, mainly from Spain, is registered. For the Mixed population, the same explanation is given for Rio Tercero Arriba, and the excess of men in Pocho is owing to the recruitment of men by the military in this area.

Figure 3. Percentage of Mixed immigrants: adult men and women and children.
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Figure 3.

Percentage of Mixed immigrants: adult men and women and children.

Men, women and children distribute more evenly among Spanish. Among Mixed, however, a less uniform pattern is observed between sexes which might be due to some persons, mainly women, migrating alone. This fact coincides with Socolow′s (1993) affirmation that Spanish females scarcely migrated and if they did, they moved with their husbands. However, regarding Mixed and Indian women, there were two patterns. One corresponded to migration in family units and the other to single women in search of work. Referring to México, Socolow (1993) reported that during the entire colonial period, immigration of women engaged in domestic labor prepared their way for sexual disequilibrium in the urban population.

In Cordoba province, sex imbalance was very likely due to masculine emigration as much as to the immigration of single women. Both Spanish and Mixed had higher numerical similarities between men and women while counts of children approached more the female pattern. This was confirmed by the correlation coefficients among the proportion of men, women and children, out-migrating from (Table 3) or immigrating into (Table 4) each Curato.

Table 3. Correlation coefficients between the proportion of out-migrants (men, women and children) leaving each Curato (N=14 Curatos).
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Table 3.

Correlation coefficients between the proportion of out-migrants (men, women and children) leaving each Curato (N=14 Curatos).

The results obtained are indicative of out-migration in groups made up of men, women and children. Taking into account the correlation coefficients in Table 3, a family pattern becomes evident in Spanish (elevated values for each combination of men, women and children), but regarding Mixed such a pattern occurs mainly for women and children, but less clearly observed for men-women, and minimum for men-children, thus confirming distributions in Figures 2 and 3. The latter suggests that some women of Mixed immigrants moved with their children unaccompanied by f men.

Table 4. Correlation coefficients between the proportion of immigrants (men, women and children) into each Curato (N=14 Curatos).
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Table 4.

Correlation coefficients between the proportion of immigrants (men, women and children) into each Curato (N=14 Curatos).

Concerning immigration to each geographical area, internal group correlations for Spanish and Mixed show the arrival mainly of couples (maximum coefficient of correlation), followed by women with children. Although significant, the pattern was less clear for men with children.

Higher correlations, when considering emigrants rather than immigrants, indicate a larger cohesion of the group leaving the place of origin; while dispersion of migrants, if it occurred before reaching the destination, would result in lower correlations at the final location.

The patterns found suggest reasons for promoting the emigration of family groups, mainly among the Spanish. Leaving the birthplace was, in some cases certainly motivated by searching for safe rural areas less affected by political and military instability. Lower correlations in familial groups arriving at the places of destination, especially those of men and children in the Mixed category, suggest that children could remain safe in an intermediate locality in the care of other relatives. Another possibility is that emigration was initially masculine and later followed by women and children. Unfortunately, the census does not reveal the dates of migration.

In addition to establishing the proportion of migrants entering or leaving each Curato, the present work determined whether there was a correspondence between specific places of origin and destination for each category of migrants (men, women, children) and ethnic group (Spanish and Mixed). Exchange matrices considering the number of individuals migrating from one to another specific location were transformed into similitude matrices and used to establish the relationships among Curatos. Matrices obtained separately for men, women and children within each ethnic group were correlated by Mantel test (Table 5).

Table 5. Mantel test between matrices of similitude (correlation) based on inter-Curato exchange of migrants. Within ethnic groups.
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Table 5.

Mantel test between matrices of similitude (correlation) based on inter-Curato exchange of migrants. Within ethnic groups.

For both ethnic categories and for each combination of adults and children, all correlations are highly significant (p<0.001). The highest correlation coefficient was found between men-women matrices followed by women-children, and the minimal for men-children. In agreement with the closer distributions among Spanish men and women (Figure 3) the correlation coefficients between them were highest in this group. These results coincide with the migration patterns mentioned earlier, according to which both sexes of the Spanish group migrated together, while Mixed was sometimes independent, mainly affecting women moving alone or with their children. The lowest correlation coefficient between Mixed men and children and the highest value for women-children responds to this pattern.

The high frequencies of illegitimate reproduction (Colantonio, 1998) mainly in Mixed, should not be discarded. Because of this situation, many single women with children migrated without a man.

Curtis White et al. (2005) reported that although the presence of unmarried, unescorted female migrants may have been inconceivable during some historical migrations, the beginning of the Great Migration in Virginia included many young, single women that flowed disproportionately into cities, whereas male migrants tended to move outside the city limits.

Our results indicate a predominance of migration involving couples, with and without children and women with children, but reveal nothing about parental relationship to children within these groups. Once proved that surnames in out-migrants did not depend on the surname distribution in the sending population, an approximation to kin structured migration was based on the percentage in each Curato of immigrants sharing surnames (here considering children and adult men as related). The results show that individuals migrated in similar proportions (either joined or alone) only from Cordoba City, the percentages sharing surnames being 40.6% for Spanish and 56.2% for Mixed. However, the average proportion of those sharing surnames for the rural Curatos considered together was 65.1% and 75.7%, respectively. These percentages are very high considering that they represent a minimal count of related migrants, since only those with the same surname are assumed to be related. Mothers with surnames different from their children migrating together can not be identified. These results show that, as a minimum, 2/3 of adult men and children emigrating would have a relative among the out-migrants.

Knowing that children migrated with adults, migration patterns were compared between both Spanish and Mixed ethnic groups considering each specific pair of Curatos for adult individuals. Mantel test of correlation between the similitude matrices by ethnic group are shown in Table 6.

Table 6. Mantel test between matrices of similitude by ethnic group based on inter-Curato exchange of migrants. S: Spanish, M: Mixed.
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Table 6.

Mantel test between matrices of similitude by ethnic group based on inter-Curato exchange of migrants. S: Spanish, M: Mixed.

Due to discrimination against certain ethno-social groups during the Colonial period, including military recruitment pressure, a dissimilar migration pattern was expected for Mixed and Spanish. However, the all significant correlations between them show a remarkable coincidence, indicating similar behaviour respecting migration.

The pattern found could also be caused by various factors accounting for migratory similar behavior. Factors related to an economic model of migration based on labor force would not be appropiate to explain migration in the 1813 historical context in Cordoba. An analysis of migration focused on local conditions and considering a historical-structural approach provides several indicators. Some of the characteristics related to this model and available from the census data were the distance separing sender and destination populations or those referring to their size or regional density.

It is generally accepted that both the spatial structure and the characteristics of potential migration destinations directly affect migration flows (Wood, 1994). Roseman (1971) considers distance a critical variable because of the cost for long distance travel, the desire for remaining close to the family, and the absence with distance of information about job opportunities.

Taking into account that distance may have been an important factor with regard to the patterns observed, the correlation matrices derived from matrices of exchange among populations (for Spanish and Mixed) were compared to the geographic distance matrix by means of the Mantel test. All coefficients were negative (as expected, a higher distance causing a lower migration), but none of them was significant. This result is not frequent in this kind of analysis. Although Brown et al. (1985) found somewhat contradictory results when relating distance to various combinations of rural-urban flow, they concluded that when the total system of exchanges is taken into account, distance appears as a greater deterrent in rural than in urban-directed migrations. This relation between distance and migration among rural Curatos does not appear in Cordoba province in 1813.

When comparing immigration with out-migration, negative significant (p<0.001 and p<0.05, respectively) correlation coefficients between them were found in both Spanish and Mixed. The main areas sending migrants had low immigration while receiving areas were characterized by low out-migration.

Respecting the relation in each Curato between the proportion of immigrants or of out-migrants with its population size and density, no significant correlation was found.

Other factors not related to distance, nor to population size or density can determine the attractiveness of a population as a migratory destination. The political situation explains part of the migratory behavior. Figure 1 shows that the areas with more immigration correspond to Río Cuarto, La Carlota and Rio Seco, all of them situated far from Cordoba City. The regions receiving migration were Punilla, Pocho and Soto. In the latter areas, Indians frequently lived in “pueblos de indios”, places where entry of other groups was forbidden. These Curatos most likely would be chosen for exile, in order to avoid the forced recruitment. Referring to Colonial Yucatán, Farriss (1978) states that cultural forces affecting population distribution are also primary causative agents of population movement and warfare is one of the more obvious incentives.

In Cordoba, rural and far away destinations were the most logical choice in a situation of political and military crises. Moreover, individuals (or families) were considered as “foreigners”, thus lacking land rights, and were ineligible for military service (Spalding, 1975). Brown et al. (1985) hold that, whatever the model, push inducements for out-migration, rival in importance to pull attractions, especially in rural areas. In the case of Cordoba it is more plausible that rural and far away places have acted as pull and the central regions as push. This seems to have occurred in many Latin American countries during the wars of emancipation. Tovar Pinzón (2001) reported for Colombia that coinciding with the wars throughout the 19th century, people escaped to other areas, far away from risk of recruitment and violence. In Hébrard (2003), a paper about city and war in Latin America throughout this century, it is stated that the most important portions of military organization during times of wars of independence had their roots in the administrative and cultural context of cities. As a consequence, massive out-emigrations left the urban world in chaos, the popular social classes being the most affected. Rivas Giménez and Vicente (2008) found a high immigration rate in Guadalajara city (Mexico) but, contrary to other authors, they state that immigrant flows to the cities were part of an historical pattern of cyclic migration and that the wars of Independence were not an important reason for this movement.

As mentioned previously, during the Spanish colonial period, migration was a general phenomenon in Latin America involving all ethnic groups and social classes. The results here obtained might have been determined both by the historical patterns of migration and the political instability in war times. There is not any research available about migration in Cordoba province that allowed the comparison of periods previous to or following 1813. Future research should be directed to appropriate data from other census material.

The results obtained suggest a convergence in migration behavior in both Spanish and Mixed migrants and a narrowing of the differences in their regional distribution. This behavior in both groups is concordant with the similitude in other population characteristics previously analyzed, showing that despite the higher political, social and economical power of the White population, the social and political reality affected both groups similarly. The traditional ethnic antagonism may have been progressively softened by rising nationalism and war (Griffin, 1949). The same speculation was made by MCalister (1963) in reference to a gradual erosion of social stratification in troubled times.

In summary, migration is a complex process. So, as stated by Hyman and Gleave (1978) “…we must recognize that different approaches to migration examine different scales and aspects of the process and that specific aspects appear to result from a number of independent variables”.


Census data do not permit approaches that might allow the identification of individual motivations and choices to migrate. A diachronic perspective is not feasible because there is no available knowledge about the time when migration took place, the individual status previous to movement, and whether residence in the census was merely one stop in a chain of locations or the final destination. In the case of Cordoba, all migrations towards localities other than those included in the census are ignored. These limitations aside, the available information did result in the illumination of seven characteristics and patterns of migration.

First, because the movement of people was not proved to be related to the distance among populations, population size, or density, the main factors determining movement were most likely the political upset and economic instability that characterized a period of continuous war and the requirements for contributing to the military with goods or personal service.

Second, Spanish and Mixed, the main ethno-social groups in 1813, were involved in the migratory process taking place in Cordoba province at the time studied.

Third, migrants were predominately males, although women and children were also well represented.

Fourth, movement took place generally from town to isolated and distant rural localities.

Fifth, the proportion of immigrants entering or leaving each area was similar in the two groups most numerically represented: Spanish and Mixed. In both, men, women and children migrated proportionally.

Sixth, from the analysis of surnames and movement, a family migration pattern is deduced in which couples with their children predominated, women with children constituting the next highest category.

Seventh, from the exchange of migrants among geographic units, equivalent patterns are deduced regarding not only men, women and children but also ethno social categories (Spanish or Mixed).

A better understanding of a dynamic migration process could be obtained from previous and later censuses by identifying in the corresponding lists the individuals here studied. Nevertheless, those sources are incomplete for Cordoba because the previous census (1778) is an ecclesiastic list in which many persons were not recorded. And in the following census (1822) data of individual origin is missing.

It would be interesting to analyze the same kinds of data from other Argentinean provinces in order to assess the generality of the trends discussed herein, particularly in relation to the consequences of the studied unstable time on the migratory movements at a larger spatial scale.

Sonia E. Colantonio
Cátedra Antropología, Fac. Cs. Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba y Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina (Colantonio)
Vicente Fuster
Dept. Zoología y Antropología Física, Fac. Biología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España (Fuster)
Sonia E. Colantonio, Cátedra Antropología, Fac. Cs. Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, y Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina; E-mail:scolanto@efn.uncor.edu


This paper was supported by the “Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica” (PICT 04-12494) and by the “Secretaría de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Universidad Nacional de Cordoba”. Thanks are given to Erik Lundin for his help during the preparation of the manuscript. The authors also express gratitude to the anonymous reviewers whose comments were most helpful.


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