Society and Politics: From Social Mobilization to Civic Participation (Santa Fe, 1890–1909)

  • Marta Bonaudo


The year 1890 inaugurates Argentina’s modern history. The last decade of the nineteenth century unleashed changes in the economy, society, and politics that the country would struggle with well into the next century. By 1890, state power had been consolidated and a unified ruling class had put an end to chronic civil war, replacing the war lords, caudillos, who presided over Argentina’s tempestuous fortunes in the 80 years following independence from Spain. Several decades of European immigration had also transformed the class structure, especially in the Littoral provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe where the majority of the immigrants settled. A rudimentary livestock economy had been supplanted by a diverse, modern agriculture with booming export markets. The country appeared perched on an era of ever increasing prosperity and unprecedented stability of its political institutions.


Municipal Government Provincial Capital Party Committee Government Party Governing Party 
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  1. 2.
    A provincial perspective on these years provides precisely the kind of opportunity to recast the national story that this volume suggests is in order. Viewed from Santa Fe, these years certainly appear more ones of social effervescence, political experimentation, and meaningful change than has often been thought. A classic book of a foreign scholar can serve as a point of reference: David’s Rock study of the Unión Cívica Radical, Politics in Argentina, 1890–1930: The Rise and Fall of Radicalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975). Rock stresses the continuities of the most important political reform movement of these years with the liberal oligarchy’s national project and downplays its novel character. Though there was unleashed, according to Rock, a fierce struggle for the spoils of political office, the fundamentals of the system were never seriously questioned. I maintain that not only were they questioned in Santa Fe, but that this questioning had a transforming effect on social relations and power arrangements at both the local and national level.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    This same undertaking is to be found in a number of recent works that seek to reconsider the issue of citizenship and political participation beyond electoral politics, trying to reassess those hypotheses that stress the political apathy of important sectors of the population, especially the immigrants. Among other studies should be mentioned Hilda Sábato and Ema Cobotti, “Hacer política en Buenos Aires: los italianos en la escena pública porteña, 1860–1880,” Boletín del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana 2 (1990); Hilda Sábato and Elías Palti, “¿Quién votaba en Buenos Aires? Práctica y teoría del sufragio, 1850–1880,” in Desarrollo Económico 119; Erna Cobotti, “Mutualismo y política. Un estudio de caso. La Sociedad Unione e Benevolenza en Buenos Aires entre 1858 y 1865,” in L’Italia nella societa argentina, ed. Devoto Resoli (Rome: 1988); and Hilda Sábato, “Ciudadanía, participatión política y formatión de una esfera pública en Buenos Aires, 1850–1880,” Siglo XIX. Revista de Historia 11 (Mexico, 1992) and especially her recent, La política en las calks: Entre el votoy la movilización (Buenos Aires, 1862–1880) (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1998).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Tulio Halperín Donghi, “1880: un nuevo clima de ideas” in El espejo de la historia (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1987), p. 248.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Notalio Botana, El orden conservador (Buenos Aires: Hyspamérica, 1986), p. 66. “Roquismo” is the term used to denominate the political order that begins in 1880 and culminates in the consolidation of state power during the presidencies of Julio Roca (1880–1886, 1898–1904).Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    On the 1890 crisis see A. Ford, “La Argentina y la crisis de Baring de 1890,” in ed. Marcos Giménez Zapiola, El régimen oligárquico (Buenos Aires: Amorrortu, 1975), p. 116.Google Scholar
  6. 51.
    Ezequiel Gallo, La pampa gringa (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1984), p. 377.Google Scholar
  7. 118.
    Juan Alvarez, Historia de Rosario (1869–1939) (Rosario: Universidad Nacional del Litoral, 1980), p. 572.Google Scholar

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© James P. Brennan and Ofelia Pianetto 2000

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  • Marta Bonaudo

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