The Other/Argentina

Jews, Gender, and Sexuality in the Making of a Modern Nation

By Amy K. Kaminsky

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Jewish Studies, Women's Studies, Queer Studies
Series: SUNY Press Open Access, SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438483290, 262 pages, April 2021
Paperback : 9781438483283, 262 pages, January 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Planting Wheat and Reaping Doctors: Another Way of Being Argentine

2. Modernity, Cosmopolitanism, and Anxiety

3. Provisional Identity

4. Family Stories and the Invention of Memory

5. Jewish Legibility and Argentine Self-Fashioning

6. Incidental Jewishness

7. Embedded Jewishness: Memory and the State in Times of Terror

8. Troubling Difference: Jewishness, Gender, and Transgressive Sexuality

By Way of Conclusion

Argues that Jewishness is an essential element of Argentina’s self-fashioning as a modern nation.


The Other/Argentina looks at literature, film, and the visual arts to examine the threads of Jewishness that create patterns of meaning within the fabric of Argentine self-representation. A multiethnic yet deeply Roman Catholic country, Argentina has worked mightily to fashion itself as a modern nation. In so doing, it has grappled with the paradox of Jewishness, emblematic both of modernity and of the lingering traces of the premodern. By the same token, Jewishness is woven into, but also other to, Argentineity. Consequently, books, movies, and art that reflect on Jewishness play a significant role in shaping Argentina's cultural landscape. In the process they necessarily inscribe, and sometimes confound, norms of gender and sexuality.

Just as Jewishness seeps into Argentina, Argentina's history, politics, and culture mark Jewishness and alter its meaning. The feminized body of the Jewish male, for example, is deeply rooted in Western tradition; but the stigmatized body of the Jewish prostitute and the lacerated body of the Jewish torture victim acquire particular significance in Argentina. Furthermore, Argentina's iconic Jewish figures include not only the peddler and the scholar, but also the Jewish gaucho and the urban mobster, troubling conventional readings of Jewish masculinity.

As it searches for threads of Jewishness, richly imbued with the complexities of gender and sexuality, The Other/Argentina explores the patterns those threads weave, however overtly or subtly, into the fabric of Argentine national meaning, especially at such critical moments in Argentine history as the period of massive state-sponsored immigration, the rise of labor and anarchist movements, the Perón era, and the 1976–83 dictatorship. In arguing that Jewishness is an essential element of Argentina's self-fashioning as a modern nation, the book shifts the focus in Latin American Jewish studies from Jewish identity to the meaning of Jewishness for the nation.

This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships Open Book Program—a limited competition designed to make outstanding humanities books available to a wide audience. Learn more at the Fellowships Open Book Program website at:, and access the book online at the SUNY Open Access Repository at

Amy K. Kaminsky is Professor Emerita of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her books include Argentina: Stories for a Nation and After Exile: Writing the Latin American Diaspora.


"…a much-needed book that offers a splendid in-depth study of Jewishness as a tightly woven element of Argentine culture." — Hispania