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Cooking, nation and identities: A historical and anthropological approach to the emergence of nationalist culinary narratives in Buenos Aires (Argentina) during the second half of the 19th century





Comer implies a complex social fact that brings together a set of production and consumption movements, both material and symbolic. Therefore, food intake and the social and cultural processes underpinning it contribute to shaping collective identities while being an expression of social and power relationships (Álvarez, 2002). In this view, we will address the problem of the emergence of nationalist culinary narratives in the context of the late 19th century and early 20th century crioll society. To this end, we work on the following scenarios: (1) there is a close link between kitchen and different state projects; 2) which are articulated through political, aesthetic and social speeches, which refer to a totalising identity and which we understand in terms of nation; (3) that identity therefore incorporates into intimate and daily practices elements specific to historically determined actors who challenged, within and outside the dominant class, a self-legitimising discourse of cultural domination. In order to cross-check these assumptions, we proposed to look at historical archives, the press of the time and political and literary texts of some of the key actors in the period, in order to regain a vision, as finally as possible, of motivations and tensions within the local elite when defining a model of state for Argentina, after the collapse of rosism. This led to the identification of a constellation of symbolic elements that were integrated through culinary narratives and concrete comensality practices, through which popular subjects and privileged elites formed part of a larger group, which tended to widen the borders of class and which we identified as characteristic of nationalist thinking. In this regard, the role of the armed forces, the Catholic Church and the large landowners was key in understanding how elements such as cow meat, fire and the large knife were brought in as central centres for nationalist gastronomy, and the operations by which other forms of culinary identity were eliminated or invisible. In short, our aim in this thesis was to break down the historical and anthropological process through which a monocorde speech was made about ways of eating and cooking in Argentina at the end of the 19th century. FIL: Olsen, Juan Francisco. University of Buenos Aires. Faculty of Philosophy and Letras.

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