The origin of these founding narratives can be traced back to the late 19th Century, a period in which a series of processes consolidated the emergence of the modern Argentinian state and its construction as a racially homogeneous nation. Between 1879 and the first decade of the 20th Century large military campaigns to the indigenous territories of Patagonia and Chaco, the annexation of these lands in order to allow the emergence of an agrarian capitalism, and massive European immigration already disciplined in capitalist labour conditions transformed dramatically Argentina’s society and its racial composition. However, despite the significant impact of European immigration and the genocide of indigenous population carried out during the military campaigns of annexation, contemporary studies agree on the fact that white population could not have reached more than 60 per cent of the total inhabitants at its height in the 1920s. [2]

As a matter of fact, certain regions, such as the north-west, did not experience immigration to the same degree as Buenos Aires and the centre and littoral regions. This points towards the cultural apparatus of the state as an agent that made racial diversity invisible through the production of narratives of racial homogeneity articulated around the reproduction of the tropes of extinction of indigenous people and blacks or the use of census categories. For example, as early as 1895, the director of the Second National Census argued that measuring race was unnecessary because the population was almost completely white. [3]

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