The Americas 58.3 (2002) 503-505
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This work combines the efforts of Argentines and North American scholars for the purpose of exploring the history of Argentina's interior regions over the course [End Page 503] of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is a welcome and unusual objective: the interior is normally neglected in favor of histories that assert a national coverage but rely on documentation and frameworks located in Buenos Aires, the seat of political authority, the dominant producer and the principal consumer of wealth. Treated in this volume are the contentious politics of the provinces of Santa Fe, Córdoba and Salta; labor organization and economic development in Córdoba, La Rioja, and Mendoza; and throughout, the interplay between provincial dynamics and the linkages with national authorities and the larger world economic system.
Marta Bonaudo treats the subject of social mobilization in the province of Santa Fe at the turn of the century. Joan Supplee analyzes changes in party strategies and affiliations in Mendoza that developed in the wake of fast-paced demographic changes and economic advances. Nicholas Biddle views Hipólito Yrigoyen's victory in the 1928 electoral campaign through the lens of regional practices in Salta, showing important differences with the Littoral. Marcelo Lagos concentrates on Jujuy's economic lifeline by investigating the evolution of sugar mills from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to 1940. Gabriela Olivera also focuses on the economic front by analyzing the forest industry of La Rioja from 1900 to 1960, from its promise to its demise. Two chapters are dedicated to the political scene in the province of Córdoba. Jane Walters looks at Catholic organizations and political leaders as they responded to the challenges posed by the first Peronist period in 1943 to 1955. Finally, Mónica Gordillo analyzes Córdoba's labor movement in the 1960s, which served as a bastion of Peronist and leftist orthodoxy and caused no end of difficulties for military officials.
As in most collections, style and analytical accumen is variable, but the essays are all important contributors to seeing the greater Argentina through its own interior voices. Space limitations, however, prevent a discussion of each contribution. Benaudo's treatment of social mobilization in Santa Fe is especially valuable in helping to sort out ideological from practical motivations among people having very different social and economic stakes and holding competing visions of the nature of democracy and its political institutions. She also gives special place to the different locational and productive forces within the province. Supplee offers an excellent analysis of competing personalist rule, a resistant strain of political transaction in the interior during the belle époque. She demonstrates the faultlines between the centralizing forces of the modernizing Argentine economy and the autonomist legacy of Mendoza's politics which led to the ultimate dismemberment of the traditional political apparatus. Nicholas Biddle's study of how the 1928 presidential election developed in Salta provides another opportunity to observe the evolving and competing differences between regional means of political survival and the national--that is Buenos Aires-centered--style of competitive politics. Despite the apparent victory of the Littoral's political sphere, Yrigoyen would fall victim to a military coup led two years later by the scion of one of Salta's most prominent military families. Marcelo Lagos's treatment of the sugar industry's evolution in Jujuy represents both a socio-economic history and an environmental disaster brought [End Page 504] about by the wealth and power of the owners of ingenios. Sugar was grown in a microregion which created new and deep divisions of wealth within the province, while eliminating virtually the entire jungle vegetation and any means of livelihood it had provided. This is also a study of the confluence of interests between the new regional economic magnates and the provincial state...