Argentinais one of the countries in South American with one of the richesthistories. The country has managed to stay significantly ahead of itspeers except maybe for Brazil in economic development. The reasonbehind this is its mineral resources and also an immigration policyencouraging skilled labor proposed by Domingo F. Sarmiento, anintellectual who would later become the country’s president. Thecountry also experienced gold-rush immigration similar to that ofAustralia and California and in the process playing host to thousandsof foreigners many from the developed world. Between 1830 and 1930,South America hosted about 60 million immigrants mostly from Europewith over 40 million settling in the region permanently. The move wasnecessitated by discovery of gold especially in Terra del Fuego.
TheAustralian and California god rushes also attracted Europeanimmigrants same as the Argentinean gold rush. The only difference wasthat immigrants to Argentina were from southern Europe specificallySpain and Portugal while the California and Australia gold rushattracted north Europe immigrants. For the Australia and Americangold rush, there was significant immigration from China especiallyfrom the Guangdong province. They had nicknamed California ‘thegold mountain’ and Australia was nicknamed ‘the new goldmountain’. With the immigrants to Argentina being mainly Catholic,they spread Catholicism in the country as opposed to the Protestantnorthern European immigrants who spread Protestantism to Australiaand US. The immigrants also brought different cultures with them totheir respective destinations (Keen & Haynes 2012). The Europeanimmigrants in Argentina established beef and sheep rearing andbrought with them African slaves as laborers. This set the stage fora rich cultural mix in South America and Argentina includinglanguage, dance and music.
Argentinetango is one of the several forms of Tangos as a genre of musicthough many people allude to there being only one form of tango. Inis believed to have originated from the African slaves who werebrought by European immigrants during and after the gold rush to workin the newly established farms. The origin of the name thoughshrouded in mystery is thought to have originated from a corruptionof Portuguese language by the slaves or from the Latin verb, tanguerewhichmeans to touch. Another possible origin of the word was possiblydirectly taken from African languages where tango means ‘closedspace’ which could capture the nature of the dancing style.
Themusic and the dance steps resulted from social gatherings ofmarginalized argentines and mostly of mixed origins known ascompadritos and Africans. The combination of the argentine milongamusic from the compadritos and the African rhythms gave rise totango. The casual look of the compadritos comprising of slouch hats,freely tied neckerchiefs, high-heeled leather boots and fancy beltsstood out as major accompaniment to this type of music and dance.This genre took root in marginalized areas, bars, streets andbrothels as an indication of its affiliation with the poor and arepresentation of the cultural and biological mix of Africans,Europeans and the local people. In fact, the excessive touching andnature of dancing is linked to its history in brothels (Keen &Haynes 2012). Therefore, the genre captures a period in history thatthree races and three cultures that form the majority of Argentinafused together to deliver a unique argentine identity and a genre ofmusic.
Argentineculture and Tango
Theargentine tango as a music genre with difference types captures thevarious aspects of this society and its history. The genre alone is acombination of different cultures and thus tracing the origins of themusic explains the different interaction between different societiesand nationalities. For instance, the African beat in this genre isunique to Africans and the dance styles and dress code of tangodancers are a creation of the compatriots which explains how Africansand the marginalized native argentines interacted. An outside canthus understand how the different people from different regionsbrought tighter by the gold rush related and their interactionsbrought about a new culture. The various types of argentine tangosuch as Apilado, Tango Nuevo, Salon and Fantasia explain theinteractions between the original Tango with other cultures andsocieties more so within Argentina (Keen & Haynes 2012).
Modernissue: Social and ethnic relations
Followingthe gold rush of the 18-19thcentury and subsequent economic development, Argentina has attracteda considerable mix of immigrants. They include Africans, Europeans,Americans, fellow Latinos, Arabs and even Jews. Such a mix has led tostrenuous social relations amongst the different groups especiallybased on scarce economic opportunities. Consequently, stereotypes andderogatory terms are sometimes used mostly by the locals forxenophobic purposes despite the seemingly unified image of thecountry. Some of the policies adapted by past and present governmentshave adapted discriminatory immigration policies and minority groupsfeel marginalized. This feeling has been keenly established andimmigrants in the country may find it hard to relate with the locals.Another issue that persists today is that the Argentine governmentencourages European immigration while holding back immigration formpeople of color. By declaring the country as 97% white is to someextent overlooking its ethnic diversity. It should also not beforgotten that the country had ethnic Indians whose number hasdrastically reduced over the years (Randall 2011).
Keen,B. & Haynes, K. (2012). AHistory of Latin America, Volume 2.New York: Cengage.
Randall,V. (2011). RacialDiscrimination in Argentina: The Record of Argentina , Human
RightsDocumentation Center.Retrieved online on 20thNov fromhttp://academic.udayton.edu/race/06hrights/georegions/southamerica/argentina01.htm