The international location of Argentina—its “place” in the scale of “progress and civilization” designed by European industrialized nations—has been shifting since the consolidation of the nation-state in 1880. Viewed as a successful settler economy by North American travelers and businessmen at the beginning of the twentieth century (as a “land of opportunity”), Argentina came to represent all the institutional and character flaws associated with “failed development” by the second half of the century. This fall changed the nature of possible comparisons, making less credible early associations with advanced European settler colonies and facilitating an understanding of Argentina as part of Latin America. This essay examines a series of discourses about the nature and location of Argentina. Underneath the shift in comparative frameworks, it is suggested, there was a growing uneasiness about the initial relationship between race and nation. The writings of nationalists in the 1930s and the mass following of a political movement (Peronism) placed serious doubts on the fiction of Argentina as a “white nation.”

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