Between Argentines and Arabs

Argentine Orientalism, Arab Immigrants, and the Writing of Identity

By Christina Civantos

Subjects: Latin American Studies
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Paperback : 9780791466025, 283 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791466018, 283 pages, December 2005

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Table of contents


INTRODUCTION Interwoven Histories, Interwoven Identities

PART I The Arab Gaucho: Historical Fictions and Fictional Histories

1. Sarmiento: The Gaucho-Bedouin Barbarian and the Performance of Barbarism

2. Lugones's El Payador and the Legacy of Moorish Blood

3. Hallar and Yaser Custom-Build the Fictions of the Nation


Coda: Menem's Self-Stylization as Arab Gaucho


Part II Writing the Orient to Write the Self


4. Euro-Argentine Orientalisms, before and after the Watershed of Immigration

5. Arab Argentine Re-Presentations of the Orient: On the Border between History and Fiction


Coda: The Arab/Argentine Knot, into the 1990s with Morandini's Take on Menem


Part III Performing Mother Tongues: Language, Morals, and National Affiliation in the Formation of Arab Argentine Identities

6. Discursive Copies, Discursive Differences: The Disruption of the Performance of Argentine National Language and Identity

7. Another Dissonant Performance of Argentineness: Provincial Argentine Polyphony in the 1960s

8. Performing an Other Tongue: Language-Based Arab Identity and the Displacement of Pure Arabic

IN CLOSING The Immigrant and the Orient in Literary and Cultural Studies


Examines the presence of Arabs and the Arab world in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Argentine literature by juxtaposing works by Argentines of European descent and those written by Arab immigrants in Argentina.


Between Argentines and Arabs is a groundbreaking contribution to two growing fields: the study of immigrants and minorities in Latin America and the study of the Arab diaspora. As a literary and cultural study, this book examines the textual dialogue between Argentines of European descent and Arab immigrants to Argentina from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.

Using methods drawn from literary analysis and cultural studies, Christina Civantos shows that the Arab presence is twofold: "the Arab" and "the Orient" are an imagined figure and space within the texts produced by Euro-Argentine intellectuals; and immigrants from the Arab world are an actual community, producing their own texts within the multiethnic Argentine nation. This book is both a literary history—of Argentine Orientalist literature and Arab-Argentine immigrant literature—and a critical analysis of how the formation of identities in these two bodies of work is interconnected.

Christina Civantos is Assistant Professor of Languages and Literatures at the University of Miami.