Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Notions of the country as a “nation of immigrants” circulate widely in Argentina. Further, Argentina’s national immigration law—one of the few in the world that recognizes migration as a human right—is often lauded as evidence of what is understood by many as a welcoming and generous context of immigrant reception. However, immigrant reception in Argentina is also deeply filtered through exclusionary narratives that have historically constructed Argentina as a white, European nation (Gordillo 2016). Such understandings of Argentina as a “white” nation, rely on the centralization of 19th and 20th century European migrations to Argentina as well as the simultaneous negation of black and indigenous presences and disregard of long-standing migrations from Latin American countries.
Increasingly diverse migratory flows to Argentina since the 1990s, including Asian and African migrations, pose new challenges to narratives of “White Argentina.” Drawing from 12 months of doctoral dissertation research on south-south youth migration to Buenos Aires, this paper explores constructions of African migrants by state and media actors. Specifically, it unpacks narratives about asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and street vendors, arguing that state and media actors employ techniques of invisibilization, criminalization, and exoticization which serve to sustain notions of “White Argentina.” Further, drawing from interviews with migrant youth from African and Latin American countries, this paper explores the quotidian and sometimes extraordinary ways in which non-white migrants work to carve out spaces for being and belonging in this context.