Children of Facundo

Caudillo and Gaucho Insurgency during the Argentine State-Formation Process (La Rioja, 1853-1870)

Children of Facundo

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 2 photographs, 17 illustrations Published: November 2000

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Southern Cone, Politics > Political Science

In Children of Facundo Ariel de la Fuente examines postindependence Argentinian instability and political struggle from the perspective of the rural lower classes. As the first comprehensive regional study to explore nineteenth-century society, culture, and politics in the Argentine interior—where more than 50 percent of the population lived at the time—the book departs from the predominant Buenos Aires-centered historiography to analyze this crucial period in the processes of state- and nation-building.
La Rioja, a province in the northwest section of the country, was the land of the caudillos immortalized by Domingo F. Sarmiento, particularly in his foundational and controversial book Facundo. De la Fuente focuses on the repeated rebellions in this district during the 1860s, when Federalist caudillos and their followers, the gauchos, rose up against the new Unitarian government. In this social and cultural analysis, de la Fuente argues that the conflict was not a factional struggle between two ideologically identical sectors of the elite, as commonly depicted. Instead, he believes, the struggle should be seen from the perspective of the lower-class gauchos, for whom Unitarianism and Federalism were highly differentiated party identities that represented different experiences during the nineteenth century. To reconstruct this rural political culture de la Fuente relies on sources that heretofore have been little used in the study of nineteenth-century Latin American politics, most notably a rich folklore collection of popular political songs, folktales, testimonies, and superstitions passed down by old gauchos who had been witnesses or protagonists of the rebellions. Criminal trial records, private diaries, and land censuses add to the originality of de la Fuente’s study, while also providing a new perspective on Sarmiento’s works, including the classic Facundo.
This book will interest those specializing in Latin American history, literature, politics, and rural issues.


“[A] landmark study . . . .” — David Rock , Journal of Social History

“[A] very interesting account of the relationship between Argentina’s rural poor and the political struggles of the nineteenth century. . . . [O]ften rich and thought provoking . . . . [A] fine work of historical scholarship . . . .” — Peter F. Guardino , American Historical Review

“[A]n important study of the complex blend of culture and popular politics in the Argentine province of La Rioja in the mid-nineteenth century.” — Paul B. Goodwin Jr, History: Reviews Of New Books

“As the first comprehensive regional study to explore 19th-century society, culture, and politics in the Argentine interior—where more than 50 percent of the population lived at the time—the book departs from the predominate Buenos Aires-centered historiography to analyze this crucial period in the processes of state- and nation-building.” — Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

“In addition to providing a compelling description of La Rioja and the events that took place there, it raises larger questions of political leadership, the development of constituencies, party dynamics, and the role of the rural lower classes in defense of their own interests. It is very well organized and written in an engaging style, enlivened with various anecdotes that bring the characters and stories to life. The research is extensive and imaginative, drawing on a wide range of sources, from census reports to songs about caudillos and gauchos. It is, in many ways, a pioneering monograph that will be of interest to specialists and general readers alike.” — Richard J. Walters , South Eastern Latin Americanist

“This work combines approaches used by social, political, and cultural historians to delve into a nuanced analysis of the competing leaderships, diverse constituencies, and strategies of resistance and military occupation during the Argentine age of post-constitutional discord, 1853-1870.” — Mark D. Szuchman , The Americas

"[A] ground-breaking book that has succeeded in illuminating a major aspect of caudillismo in Latin America." — Hilda Sabato, Journal of Latin American Studies

"[A] pioneering exploration of the popular experience of state-formation. . . . [O]ne of the most interesting contributions of the book is its elucidation of the ethnic and religious dimensions of Argentine federalism. . . .[M]ost original. . . . [A]n imaginative study of a transformative moment in Argentina's history." — Seth Meisel, Hispanic American Historical Review

Children of Facundo will stand at the forefront of works on what is arguably the single most important topic among contemporary Latin American historians: the lower classes and nation-state formation. This is history from below at its best.” — Charles Walker, author of Smoldering Ashes: Cuzco and the Creation of Republican Peru, 1780–1840

“De la Fuente has gone beyond integrating the subjects and issues of previous works on the subject in this methodologically sophisticated historiographic project: he has enriched them with important new insights. This contribution will be welcomed by specialists in the field.” — Tulio Halperín Donghi, author of The Contemporary History of Latin America

“What a splendid book! Children of Facundo is sure to become one of the touchstones in the study of politics and society in nineteenth-century Latin America.” — Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ariel de la Fuente is Assistant Professor of History at Purdue University.

Table of Contents Back to Top

1. Caudillos, Provincial Elites, and the Formation of the National State

2. Unitarians and Federalists in Famatina: The Agrarian Component of Political Conflict in a Valley of the Andean Interior

3. The Society of the Llanos

4. “Gauchos,” “Montoneros,” and “Montoneras”: Social Profile and Internal Workings of the Rebellions

5. Caudillos and Followers: The Forms of a Relationship

6. Facundo and Chacho in Songs and Stories: Oral Culture and the Representations of Leadership

7. Whites and Blacks, Masons and Christians: Ethnicity and Religion in the Political Identity of the Federalist Rebels

8. State-Formation and Party Identity: The New Meanings of Federalism in the 1860s
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2596-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2582-6
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