Dignifying Argentina: Peronism, Citizenship and Mass Consumption (Paperback)Eduardo Elena (author)
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Juan Peron's first two terms (1946-1955) were heady times for a country emerging from military dictatorships and economic depression. Argentineans gained a new sense of participation in government and the workplace. Social protection programs grew to serve many formerly displaced citizens. Greater economic prosperity was promised for all, and Peron's "Nueva Argentina" became the envy of all of Latin America.
In Dignifying Argentina, Eduardo Elena examines popular consumption as a locus for Peron's reform programs, and as a lens for viewing the political hopes and material de- sires of citizens during the most transformative era of twentieth-century Argentina. At the heart of Peron's populist rhetoric was the concept of vida digna (dignified life).This entailed state regulation of consumption and the marketplace, and as Elena's study shows, political culture and political economy became deeply intertwined.
Perception and reality soon grew far apart, however. Material aspirations in the household far exceeded product availability and income levels. The administration began to openly criticise the unrealistic wants of citizens. Military, industrial, and religious factions were increasingly dissatisfied, and Peron was eventually deposed.
As Dignifying Argentina reveals, despite their failings, the powerful chord that Peron's programs struck with the working class for individual rights, social protection, and standard of living-offered a newfound hope that empowered ordinary citizens as never before.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 503 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
"This is a compelling account of how consumption became a central focus of state policy, popular demands, and political struggles in Peronist Argentina. Built on solid research and advanced by clear argument, Elena's book not only opens up new questions for the Argentine case but also places this case into an important comparative conversation."
--Mark Healey, University of Connecticut
"A must-read for historians of Argentina as well as for Latin Americanists interested in the history of populism and consumption. Given its clear prose and broad theme, the book may also be useful in advanced undergraduate courses."
--Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History
"Elena's book should be required reading for those interested in a fresh interpretation of Peronism and an original look at postwar policy making and political economy. Readers searching for a compelling analysis of the always complex yet fascinating relationship between the state and citizen consumers will not be disappointed."
--Hispanic American Historical Review
"Provides a fresh perspective on the relationship linking political and socio-economic change--between populism and mass consumption--and in so doing provides a potential lifeline to drowning materialists. . . . Sheds new light on why Peronism struck such a chord in the most Europeanised society of the Americas while, in its way, putting a spring back into the step of class analysis itself."
--Latin American Review of Books
"Makes a compelling case for Peronism's persistence into the twenty-first century as directly tied to a powerful, lingering sense among working Argentines that the state has an important political role to play in the maintenance of dignifying living conditions for all citizens."
--Canadian Journal of History
"Although much has been published in Spanish in recent years looking at Peronism in a more objective and less partisan fashion, the literature in English remains dominated by an often trivialising view of [Peron] and his movement as a crude version of Latin American fascism. This excellent book makes a considerable conribution to reverting this biased viewpoint."
--Bulletin of Latin American Research
"Eduardo Elena's study is a deeply researched and major contribution to Argentine historiography. For specialists on Argentina it represents one of the most important studies of the last decade. Dignifying Argentina presents a cogent analysis of state policies and their reception, in which we learn much about popular consumption, the nature of Peronism, and modern Argentine history itself."
--James Brennan, University of California Riverside
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