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Dignifying Argentina

Peronism, Citizenship, and Mass Consumption

Eduardo Elena

Publication Year: 2011

During the mid-twentieth century, Latin American countries witnessed unprecedented struggles over the terms of national sovereignty, civic participation, and social justice. Nowhere was this more visible than in Peronist Argentina (1946–1955), where Juan and Eva Perón led the region's largest populist movement in pursuit of new political hopes and material desires. Eduardo Elena considers this transformative moment from a fresh perspective by exploring the intersection of populism and mass consumption. He argues that Peronist actors redefined national citizenship around expansive promises of a vida digna (dignified life), which encompassed not only the satisfaction of basic wants, but also the integration of working Argentines into a modern consumer society.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Latin American Series

Front Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

This book is the product of many years spent working on Peronism, one of the most discussed topics in modern Latin American history and among its most controversial. Indeed, it is impossible to study twentieth-century Argentina and not constantly get questions about what one “really thinks” about Peronism. ...

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Introduction: Peronism and the Midcentury Moment

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pp. 1-17

Juan Domingo Perón reached a crossroads in November 1951. Facing reelection, Argentina’s president desired a strong showing at the polls to remind supporters and critics alike of his enduring popularity. To this end, Perón and his legendary wife, Eva Duarte de Perón, addressed massive audiences at open-air rallies, ...

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1. An Imperfect Abundance

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pp. 18-51

In 1928 the newspaper El Mundo hired Roberto Arlt to write a series of observations about life in Buenos Aires. This was a promising arrangement: the newspaper offered a new tabloid layout aimed at popular audiences, and Arlt was an iconoclastic novelist who had worked as a store clerk, machinist, and jack-of-all-trades ...

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2. Standards for a New Argentina

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pp. 52-83

The dilemmas of constrained consumption figured only marginally on the agenda of state officials in the late 1930s, attracting sporadic attention during cost-of-living protests and justifying modest surveys of family budgets—yet how different the political landscape looked just a few years later. ...

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3. The War on Speculation

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pp. 84-118

In Argentina the end of World War II was soon overshadowed by the start of Perón’s presidency. Whether this momentous transition represented the dawn of a new era or the further decline of the Republic depended on the side of the growing partisan divide on which one stood. ...

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4. Needs, Wants, and Comforts

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pp. 119-153

By assigning new political meanings to ordinary purchasing acts, Peronist campaigns illuminated the material aspirations of working households. There was much more, however, to the pursuit of the vida digna than buying plentiful wares in a regulated marketplace. ...

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5. Parables of Prodigality

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pp. 154-186

As working Argentines saw their consumer horizons widen, both through enhanced purchasing power and access to social assistance, their everyday behavior elicited commentary from fellow members of society. In sizing up the significance of these changes, contemporaries told stories that drew moralizing conclusions ...

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6. The Counterpolitics of Voice

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pp. 187-220

The average worker awakens refreshed just before 5 a.m., eager to begin a new day. After washing up and breakfasting with his family, he leaves a house in the suburbs of greater Buenos Aires and commutes to the city, where he earns his wages through skilled manual labor. ...

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7. Ironies of Adjustment

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pp. 221-250

As the Perón Wants to Know letters flooded government offces with popular recommendations on national planning, state authorities embarked on their own revamping of the New Argentina. In the immediate postwar years, policymakers envisioned income redistribution and development as largely complementary aims. ...

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pp. 251-260

Much has changed since Perón was deposed over five decades ago. Today the overwhelming majority of Argentines have no direct experience of life in the Nueva Argentina. With each passing year, less evidence of a once commanding regime remains, for subsequent administrations reduced its social programs, lifted commercial and labor regulations, ...


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pp. 261-300


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pp. 301-322


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pp. 323-332

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780822977384
E-ISBN-10: 0822977389
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961703
Print-ISBN-10: 822961709

Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Pitt Latin American Series
Series Editor Byline: John Charles Chasteen and Catherine M. Conaghan, Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 835768418
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Dignifying Argentina

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Citizenship -- Argentina -- History -- 19th century.
  • Households -- Economic aspects -- Argentina -- History -- 20th century.
  • Consumption (Economics) -- Argentina -- History -- 20th century.
  • Argentina -- Politics and government -- 1943-1955.
  • Argentina -- Economic policy.
  • Argentina -- Economic conditions -- 1945-1983.
  • Peronism -- Economic aspects.
  • Populism -- Argentina -- History -- 20th century.
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