Presentation Title

Exploring Polish Diaspora: Sites of Memory in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Advisor Information

Eugenio Di Stefano

Location

UNO Criss Library, Room 231

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

4-3-2016 10:00 AM

End Date

4-3-2016 10:15 AM

Abstract

Polish immigration to Argentina began in the early 1800s, joining with communities of mostly Italian and Spanish immigrants. Since World War II, however, immigration from Poland to Argentina has decreased; despite this decrease, there has been an increase of Polish monuments built in the city since the 1990s. This paper explores this newfound interest in Polish monuments in relation to larger social initiatives taking place in Argentina at the end of the twentieth century. To be sure, the phenomenon of immigration is often studied in the social sciences and law, but rarely do we consider how buildings, monuments, paintings, and memorial sites influence and imprint the way citizens think about immigration. I approach this study through Pierre Nora’s idea of lieux de mémoire (“sites of memory”) and explore the hidden history of Polish immigration in Argentina. Nora defines “sites of memory” as the coalescing of memory and history and the “reconstitution of a past without lacunae or faults” (9). More specifically, “sites of memory” provide an opportunity to explore different cultural artifacts such as street names, monuments and buildings, in order to recuperate a “collective memory” that otherwise may be forgotten. By studying these hidden repositories in Buenos Aires, I show how the Polish diaspora in Argentina post-World War II affects our understanding of collective Argentine citizenship and how the larger Polish community informs Argentine society. In this way, I argue that Polish memory sites reflect an interest that goes beyond preserving Polish memory and reveals a larger commitment to pluralism and human rights in Argentina.

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Mar 4th, 10:00 AM Mar 4th, 10:15 AM

Exploring Polish Diaspora: Sites of Memory in Buenos Aires, Argentina

UNO Criss Library, Room 231

Polish immigration to Argentina began in the early 1800s, joining with communities of mostly Italian and Spanish immigrants. Since World War II, however, immigration from Poland to Argentina has decreased; despite this decrease, there has been an increase of Polish monuments built in the city since the 1990s. This paper explores this newfound interest in Polish monuments in relation to larger social initiatives taking place in Argentina at the end of the twentieth century. To be sure, the phenomenon of immigration is often studied in the social sciences and law, but rarely do we consider how buildings, monuments, paintings, and memorial sites influence and imprint the way citizens think about immigration. I approach this study through Pierre Nora’s idea of lieux de mémoire (“sites of memory”) and explore the hidden history of Polish immigration in Argentina. Nora defines “sites of memory” as the coalescing of memory and history and the “reconstitution of a past without lacunae or faults” (9). More specifically, “sites of memory” provide an opportunity to explore different cultural artifacts such as street names, monuments and buildings, in order to recuperate a “collective memory” that otherwise may be forgotten. By studying these hidden repositories in Buenos Aires, I show how the Polish diaspora in Argentina post-World War II affects our understanding of collective Argentine citizenship and how the larger Polish community informs Argentine society. In this way, I argue that Polish memory sites reflect an interest that goes beyond preserving Polish memory and reveals a larger commitment to pluralism and human rights in Argentina.