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URA Archive
Scholars 2009 - 2010

Vivian Ekey

Vivian Ekey, Spanish/Political Science
"Afro-Porteño Identity Today"
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sara Poggio
Expected Graduation Date: December 2012
Contact: vekey1@umbc.edu

 

The history of people of African descent in Argentina continues to be a mystery to most. Comparing census results from the 18th through 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.