New Series: History by the Bill

The blog’s been pretty thoroughly dominated by art stuff lately, so when I discovered yesterday that I had, by chance, peso notes in all six denominations, I decided I’d try something different. People outside of Argentina tend not to know very much about the country’s history, I think it’s great, and everybody loves money. So, in the weeks to come, I’ll post short historical and historiographic pieces about each of the six 19th-century figures featured on Argentina’s bills, starting with Bartolomé Mitre on the $2 and working my way toward the ever-controversial Julio Argentino Roca on the $100. It’s a fascinating group, one that could only be presented as a coherent selection of foundational statesmen well after the fact. For much of the 19th century, after all, Argentina was plagued by civil war between city and province, and these guys didn’t all come down on the same side. (If Sarmiento knew he was sharing the honor of a bill with Rosas, he’d be rolling over in his plush Recoleta mausoleum.) As much as possible, I’ll try to limit myself to the Argentine literature–partly because I wasn’t able to bring many books with me to Argentina, but in larger part because I think it’s more interesting to see how these “nation-builders” have been treated here on their home turf. Stay tuned for the first post in the series, which I’ll hope to make this weekend when I should have a bit more time.

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