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FB-58217-15

Brian Scott Bockelman
Ripon College (Ripon, WI 54971-1465)

Urban Design and Buenos Aires' First Modern Culture War, c. 1883

Employing a new branch of microhistory called incident analysis, this project examines the loud and often funny polemics surrounding the 1883 decision of Argentina's modernizing elite to plant palm trees in the downtown Plaza de Mayo of Buenos Aires, the country's most symbolic public space. Since palms are not native to the city's temperate and largely treeless environment, critics seized on them as "alien" adornments that were neither representative of Argentina nor in step with other contemporary urban reforms, which sought to make Buenos Aires resemble a grand European capital. While the event contributed to the eventual breakdown of the two-body municipal government that tried to juggle local needs with those of a national capital, the outpouring of satire and caricature this fight over a tree unleashed in the press suggests that its real significance lies in the discord it exposed within Argentine cultural politics and political culture in the supposedly new age of the 1880s.

Project fields:
Cultural History; Latin American History; Urban History

Program:
Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2015 – 7/31/2016