Gender Symp.: “Twenty Men Will Swear He is My Son”: Reconstructing Immigrant Families in Buenos Aires 1880-1919.
Fri, April 5, 2013 • 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM • GAR 1.102
The Department of History's Graduate Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality presents:
“'Twenty Men Will Swear He is My Son': Reconstructing Immigrant Families in Buenos Aires 1880-1919"
A talk by Juandrea Bates, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, University of Texas at Austin
Between 1880 and 1914, six million immigrants poured through the port of Buenos Aires. Although Argentina's 1853 Constitution and 1871 Civil Code promised these men, women and children the same rights as citizens and equal protection under the law, a quick review of custody cases reveals that recently arrived Europeans faced far more challenges to their parental rights in Civil Courts than native born porteños. While the Argentine government actively encouraged European immigration, extolling the supposed "civilizing influence" the newcomers would bring to the South American metropolis, these immigrants found that once in Buenos Aires local officials frequently challenged their control over their children, stripped them of their parental rights and declared the children of immigrants as wards of the state almost twice as often as minors whose parents were born in Buenos Aires.
In this presentation I investigate immigrants' experiences in Buenos Aires' Civil Courts between 1880 and 1919. I argue that immigrant's heavy reliance on extended social networks to raise their children put them at odds with the 1871 Civil Code's definition of family and legal guardians. The second half of the presentation examines how foreign born women and children used this tension with civil law to increase their power within their homes.
While looking at specifically at the case of Buenos Aires, this presentation investigates larger questions of the role that legal institutions play in challenging or recreating patriarchal power in immigrant communities.
The Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality has been a fixture in Department of History since 2001, offering a forum for graduate students and faculty to present papers and works-in-progress for discussion in a relaxed and collegial atmosphere.