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Undergraduate Researchers

Vivian Ekey, Spanish and Political Science

Afro-Porteño Identity Today

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sara Poggio

The history of people of African descent in Argentina continues to be a mystery to most people. Comparing census results from the 18th and 19th centuries shows a drastic drop in this population. Perhaps the most obvious place to study this trend is the city of Buenos Aires. In 1806, the Afro-Argentinean population seems to have been at its peak, at 30.1%. By 1887, however, this population had dwindled to only 1.8%. Today, Argentina's census has no specific category to account for people of African descent. Amongst most Porteños (Buenos Aires citizens), the general consensus is that there are no Afro-Porteños. More knowledgeable residents may cite the War of Paraguay and the Yellow Fever epidemic, which are thought to have decimated the population in the mid- to late-19th century. Within the last decade, research has brought to light two key facts. First, there are indeed existing Afro-Argentines, descendant of the original slaves brought to the Rio de la Plata Region (encompasses Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.) Secondly, these descendants are actively seeking social and political recognition. After providing historical insight on the topic, my research will take into account not only this population of Afro-Argentines, but other groups of African descendants living in Argentina in order to characterize Afro-Argentinean identity in Buenos Aires today.


How did you find your mentor for this project? 

Dr. Poggio was my professor for a course in my major/ and of the same research area. She is a native of the country I did my research in.  


How did you know this was the project you wanted to do? 

I am interested in social movements and identity politics 


Is this your first independent research project? 



How much time do you put into it? 

About three hours a day while I was in Argentina; less time now


How did you hear about the Undergraduate Research Award program? 

Through the Humanities Scholars program. I am a humanities scholar.  


Was the application difficult to do? 


What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?  

Think long and hard about a research question and devote adequate time to the proposal. Develop methodology.

What are your career goals? 

International relations/law work

What has been the hardest part about your research?  

Balancing my semester workload with my research

How does your research relate to your work in other classes? 

It integrates political science and the humanities