To Belong in Buenos Aires: Germans, Argentines, and the Rise of a Pluralist Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018.
Overview: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a massive wave of immigration transformed the cultural landscape of Argentina. Alongside other immigrants to Buenos Aires, German speakers strove to carve out a place for themselves as Argentines without fully relinquishing their German language and identity. Their story sheds light on how pluralistic societies take shape and how immigrants negotiate the terms of citizenship and belonging.
Focusing on social welfare, education, religion, language, and the importance of children, Benjamin Bryce examines the formation of a distinct German-Argentine identity. Through a combination of cultural adaptation and a commitment to Protestant and Catholic religious affiliations, German speakers became stalwart Argentine citizens while maintaining connections to German culture. Even as Argentine nationalism intensified and the state called for a more culturally homogeneous citizenry, the leaders of Buenos Aires’s German community advocated for a new, more pluralistic vision of Argentine citizenship by insisting that it was possible both to retain one’s ethnic identity and be a good Argentine. Drawing parallels to other immigrant groups while closely analyzing the experiences of Argentines of German heritage, Bryce contributes new perspectives on the history of migration to Latin America—and on the complex interconnections between cultural pluralism and the emergence of national cultures.
Benjamin Bryce and David Sheinin, eds. Making Citizens in Argentina. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.
Overview: This volume charts the multiple and evolving meanings of citizenship in Argentina over the course of the twentieth century. Against the backdrop of immigration, science, race, sport, populist rule, and dictatorship, authors analyze the power of the Argentine state and of other social actors to set the boundaries of citizenship. At the same time, they address how, over time, Argentines contested the meanings of what it meant to be a citizen. Through contestation and over time, citizenship has come to mean much more than nationality or voting rights. In Argentina, it defined a person’s relationships with and expectations of the state. Citizenship conditioned the rights and duties of Argentines and foreign nationals living in the country. In the language of what it meant to be a citizen, Argentines explained to one another who belonged and who did not. In the cultural, moral, and social requirements of citizenship, groups with power have often excluded others whose status in Argentine society was more tenuous. At the same time, Making Citizens in Argentina shows how workers, politicians, elites, indigenous peoples, and others in Argentina staked multiple claims in defining what citizenship has meant.
Benjamin Bryce and Alexander Freund, eds. Entangling Migration History: Borderlands and Transnationalism in the United States and Canada. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015.
Overview: For almost two centuries North America has been a major destination for international migrants, but from the late nineteenth century onward, governments began to regulate borders, set immigration quotas, and define categories of citizenship. To highlight the complexities of migration, the contributors to this volume focus on people born in the United States and Canada who migrated to the other country, as well as Japanese, Chinese, German, and Mexican migrants who came to the United States and Canada. These case studies go beyond the confines of national historiographies to situate the history of North America in an international context. By including local, national, and transnational perspectives, the editors emphasize the value of tracking connections over large spaces and political boundaries and, in so doing, present rich new scholarship to the field. This volume ultimately contends that crucial issues in the United States and Canada, such as labor, economic growth, and ideas about the racial or religious makeup of the nations, are shaped by the two countries’ connections to each other and the surrounding world.
Refereed Journal Articles
“Undesirable Britons: South Asian Migration and the Making of a White Argentina.” Hispanic American Historical Review 99, no. 2 (2019): 247-273.
To read this article, click here.
Abstract: This article examines the history of South Asian immigration to Argentina before the First World War. The arrival of a relatively small group of Sikh laborers in 1912, alongside other Japanese and Chinese immigrants in the preceding decade, sparked a huge reaction from Argentine politicians and immigration bureaucrats. They restricted entry, pushed for labor market exclusion, and engaged in diplomatic exchanges with British imperial authorities. In their view, mass migration not only had the power to make a white, European nation but also threatened to undermine that same project. This article argues that the dominant vision of Argentina as a white nation was built on not only transatlantic immigration but also Asian exclusion. Drawing on archival research in Buenos Aires and London, it casts new light on both Argentine nationalism and the language of racial hierarchies mobilized in discussions of mass migration.
“Citizens of Empire: Education and Teacher Exchanges in Canada and the Commonwealth, 1910-1940.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 45, no. 4 (2017): 607-629.
To read this article, click here.
Abstract: This article examines how one group of actors actively infused education, citizenship, and Canada’s international relationships with a sense of empire in the first third of the twentieth century. Making use of archival and published sources from collections in Canada and Britain, it focuses in particular on imperial citizenship teaching in Canadian schools, a number of education conferences held in the United Kingdom, and the exchanges of elementary and high school teachers and school inspectors between Commonwealth countries. In this period, politicians and bureaucrats in Canada and other dominions actively connected their education systems to an imperial network at the very moment that others strove to attain more economic and political autonomy from the British government. Education came to occupy a significant cultural space alongside the trade agreements and constitutional changes that slowly recalibrated the nature of the British imperial system in the interwar period. Imperial education projects were an important feature of the cultural politics of a fading empire, but they were driven by actors in both the imperial centre and the self-governing dominions. This article argues that between 1910 and 1940 teachers and politicians in Canada drew on an international support network, actively fostered new ideas of citizenship, and strove to assert the country’s belonging in the British Empire.
“Paternal Communities: Social Welfare and Immigration in Argentina, 1880-1930.” Journal of Social History 49, no. 1 (2015): 213-236.
To read this article, click here.
Abstract: This article charts the emergence of several immigrant-run social welfare institutions in Argentina between 1880 and 1930. Using German-language organizations as an illustrative case study, it argues that immigrants played an important role in shaping the system of social welfare in Argentina over a long historical period. It focuses on the autonomy affluent immigrants sought to attain and the ideas about class, gender, and ethnicity they invoked in their pursuit of this goal. The cause of social welfare helped self-proclaimed leaders construct a specific image of their community, solidify gender and class hierarchies, and paternalistically organize workers under their leadership. These actions fostered a place for affluent immigrants within a broader system of social relations in Buenos Aires. In carving out a space for ethnic communities in a domain where the state, the Catholic Church, and Spanish-speaking philanthropists also had influence, German and other wealthy immigrants transcended the individual communities they aspired to care for and helped shape the relationship between community and society.
“Linguistic Ideology and State Power: German and English Education in Ontario, 1880-1912.” Canadian Historical Review 94, no. 2 (2013): 207-233.
To read this article, click here.
Abstract: This article analyzes the relationship between German and English in Ontario’s educational system between 1880 and 1912. It examines textbooks, curriculum, and the linguistic ideology of the Education Department. It charts the transition of German from one of three languages of instruction alongside English and French to an elective subject. By connecting German to other language debates in the period, this study expands our view of English-French relations in Ontario. The analysis of several languages also contributes new perspectives on bilingual education in North America. In addition, the focus on linguistic and cultural policies reassesses the layers of state power and the rising authority of the provincial education bureaucracy. Finally, by situating the educational experience of German-speaking children and the goals of German-speaking parents within the broader context of projects of standardization in the late-nineteenth century, the author challenges the assumption about the singular importance of the First World War on German language and culture in Ontario and more broadly in Canada and the United States.
Résumé : Cet article analyse les rapports entre les langues allemande et anglaise dans le système éducatif de l’Ontario entre 1880 et 1912. Il examine les manuels et les programmes scolaires, l’idéologie linguistique du Ministère de l’Éducation et la transition de l’allemand comme langue d’enseignement en Ontario au même titre que l’anglais et le français vers une matière facultative. En étudiant également le rôle de la langue allemande dans les débats linguistiques de l’époque, ce travail permet de mieux envisager les relations entre les anglophones et les francophones en Ontario. L’investigation de plusieurs langues contribue aussi à ouvrir des perspectives nouvelles concernant le thème de l’éducation bilingue en Amérique du Nord. L’analyse des politiques linguistiques et culturelles permet une réévaluation des niveaux du pouvoir de l’État et de montrer l’autorité croissante de la bureaucratie provinciale dans l’éducation. L’auteur inscrit l’expérience éducative des enfants de langue allemande et les objectifs des parents germanophones dans le contexte plus large de la standardisation à la fin du dix-neuvième siècle : ce changement de perspective permet de relativiser le rôle majeur attribué à la Première Guerre mondiale dans le déclin de la langue et de la culture allemandes en Ontario et plus largement au Canada et aux États-Unis.
“Entangled Communities: Religion and Ethnicity in Ontario and North America, 1880-1930.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 23, no. 1 (2012): 189-226.
To read this article, click here.
Abstract: This article examines the relationship between religion, ethnicity, and space in Ontario between 1880 and 1930. It tracks the spread of organized Lutheranism across Ontario as well as the connections that bound German-language Lutheran congregations to the United States and Germany. In so doing, this article seeks to push the study of religion in Canada beyond national boundaries. Building on a number of studies of the international influences on other denominations in Canada, this article charts out an entangled history that does not line up with the evolution of other churches. It offers new insights about the relationship between language and denomination in Ontario society, the rise of a theologically-mainstream Protestant church, and the role of institutional networks that connected people across a large space. The author argues that regional, national, and transnational connections shaped the development of many local German-language Lutheran communities in Ontario.
Résumé : Cet article analyse les rapports entre religion, ethnicité et l’espace en Ontario entre 1880 et 1930. Il retrace la croissance de l’Église luthérienne en Ontario, ainsi que les connexions qui liaient les congrégations de langue allemande de l’Ontario aux États-Unis et à l’Allemagne. Ce faisant, cet article cherche à déplacer l’étude de la religion au Canada au-delà des frontières nationales. À partir d’études menées sur les influences internationales sur d’autres confessions au Canada, cet article rend compte de l’évolution singulière de l’Eglise luthérienne. Il offre de nouvelles perspectives pour comprendre les rapports entre la langue et la religion en Ontario, la montée en importance d’une église protestante théologiquement centriste et le rôle fédérateur des réseaux institutionnels dans un grand espace. La thèse de l’article consiste à dire que les liens régionaux, nationaux et transnationaux ont façonné le développement de nombreuses communautés luthériennes germanophones au niveau local en Ontario.
“Los caballeros de beneficencia y las damas organizadoras: El Hospital Alemán y la idea de comunidad en Buenos Aires, 1880-1930.” Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos 70 (2011): 79-107.
To read this article, click here.
Abstract: Through the study of the German Hospital, one of the largest German-language organizations in Buenos Aires, this article highlights several aspects of the history of German speakers in this city that have yet to receive much scholarly attention. The internal structure, fundraisers, and support for this hospital between 1880 and 1930 reveal a great deal about the changing ideas about community as well as the gendered nature of ethnic organization. At the same time, the support that one of the city’s many ethnic groups offered to a hospital provides a unique opportunity to enter new historiographic debates in migration studies by situating German speakers into two central themes in Argentine historiography: the power of the state and the development of health care in Buenos Aires. I argue that the German Hospital and female charity work for the hospital played an important role in promoting group cohesion that transcended divisions of class and citizenship, particularly by emphasizing racialized ideas of a Germanic nation.
Resumen: Mediante el estudio del Hospital Alemán, una de las organizaciones de habla alemana más grandes de Buenos Aires, me propongo destacar varios aspectos de la historia de los germanohablantes en esta ciudad que no han sido estudiados anteriormente. La estructura interna, las recaudaciones de fondos y el apoyo económico que recibió este hospital entre 1880 y 1930 revelan mucho sobre el desarrollo de las concepciones de comunidad y los roles de género dentro de la organización comunitaria. Además, el apoyo que uno de los grupos migratorios en la ciudad daba a un hospital nos ofrece la posibilidad de entrar en nuevas discusiones historiográficas en los estudios migratorios. Así, encuadro esta investigación sobre los germanohablantes dentro de dos temas centrales de la historiografía argentina: el poder del Estado argentino y el desarrollo del sistema sanitario en Buenos Aires. Sostengo que el Hospital Alemán y el trabajo voluntario y caritativo femenino eran clave en el fomento de una comunidad cohesiva que trascendía divisiones de clase social y ciudadanía, enfatizando a su vez ideas racializadas de una nación germánica.
“Transatlantic Religion: German Lutheran Missionaries in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930.” In Atlantic Crossings: Webs of Migration, Culture and Politics between Europe, Africa, and the Americas, 1800-2010, edited by José C. Moya. London: Bloomsbury Publishers, 2015. 25 pages. (Forthcoming)
Abstract: This chapter charts the transatlantic connections between religious leaders in Germany and Lutheran institutions in Canada and Argentina. Over time, two distinct networks emerged in which people, ideas, and finances circulated. Contrasting a case study in North America with one in the Southern Cone reveals how varying degrees of interest on either side of the Atlantic fundamentally shaped the evolution of transatlantic networks. German-speaking Lutherans in the Southern Cone were involved in a far deeper transatlantic exchange than those in North America. In both cases, German-language religious institutions were free to follow their own paths, and in both cases religious leaders engaged in a selective dialogue with several religious groups in Germany. This chapter demonstrates how the differing contexts of the Southern Cone and North America shaped the nature of the transatlantic relationship between German speakers in the Americas and Lutheran bodies in Imperial and Weimar Germany. It argues that two distinct institutional structures in Canada and Argentina created two different transatlantic relationships with religious organizations in Germany.
“La etnicidad en el Argentinisches Tageblatt, 1905-1918: la discusión de una comunidad germánica y alemana.” In Anuario Argentino de Germanística IV. Edited by Regula Rohland and Miguel Vedda. Buenos Aires: Asociación Argentina de Germanistas, 2008, 125-143.
Abstract: The daily publications of the Argentinisches Tageblatt have left behind important information about the linguistic and cultural presence of its German-speaking readership in Buenos Aires between 1905 and 1918. In this article, I analyze the paradoxical discourse about Germanic and German ethnicity, the process of cultural adaptation before the First World War, and an increased interest in the ties to Europe during the war. The newspaper illustrates the cultural negotiation between the old and new identities of German-speaking immigrants in Buenos Aires.
Resumen: Las publicaciones diarias del Argentinisches Tageblatt entre 1905 y 1918 han dejado información importante sobre la presencia lingüística y cultural de sus lectores germanohablantes en Buenos Aires. En este artículo se analiza el discurso paradójico de la etnicidad germánica y alemana, el proceso de adaptación de los germanohablantes antes de la guerra y un mayor interés en los vínculos con Europa durante la Primera Guerra Mundial debido la presión externa de la guerra. El periódico ilustra la negociación cultural existente entre las identidades viejas y nuevas de los inmigrantes germanohablantes en Buenos Aires
Review of A Canadian Girl in South Africa: A Teacher’s Experience in the South African War, 1899-1902, by E. Maud Graham. Edited by Michael Dawson, Catherine Gidney, and Susanne Klausen. Historical Studies in Education/Revue d’histoire de l’éducation 28, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 128-130.
Review of Village among Nations: “Canadian” Mennonites in a Transnational World, 1916-2006, by Royden Loewen. Canadian Historical Review 97, no. 1 (March 2016): 123-125.
Review of Transformations and Crisis of Liberalism in Argentina, 1930-1955, by Jorge Nállim. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 37, no. 74 (2012): 266-268.
Review of Sounds of Ethnicity: Listening to German North America, 1850-1914, by Barbara Lorenzkowski. Left History 15 (2011): 119-120.
A series of articles on the Oscar-winning movie on ActiveHistory.ca
Creating the Canadian Mosaic
An article on ActiveHistory.ca (co-authored with Ryan McKenney)
Towards a History of the Americas
An article on ActiveHistory.ca
The Mosaic vs. the Melting Pot?
An article on ActiveHistory.ca
SEMINECAL 2012: Latin American Conference on Canadian Studies (Seminario Interuniversitario de Estudios Canadienses en América Latina)
Canadian Studies Network/Réseau d’études canadiennes