Wandering Paysanos

State Order and Subaltern Experience in Buenos Aires during the Rosas Era

Wandering Paysanos

Book Pages: 544 Illustrations: 28 illus., 22 tables, 1 map Published: July 2003

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Southern Cone

A pioneering examination of the experiences of peasants and peons, or paysanos, in the Buenos Aires province during Juan Manuel de Rosas’s regime (1829–1852), Wandering Paysanos is one of the first studies to consider Argentina’s history from a subalternist perspective. The distinguished Argentine historian Ricardo D. Salvatore situates the paysanos as mobile job seekers within an expanding, competitive economy as he highlights the points of contention between the peasants and the state: questions of military service, patriotism, crime, and punishment. He argues that only through a reconstruction of the different subjectivities of paysanos—as workers, citizens, soldiers, and family members—can a new understanding of postindependence Argentina be achieved.

Drawing extensively on judicial and military records, Salvatore reveals the state’s files on individual prisoners and recruits to be surprisingly full of personal stories directly solicited from paysanos. While consistently attentive to the fragmented and mediated nature of these archival sources, he chronicles how peons and peasants spoke to power figures—judges, police officers, and military chiefs—about issues central to their lives and to the emerging nation. They described their families and their wanderings across the countryside in search of salaried work, memories and impressions of the civil wars, and involvement with the Federalist armies. Their lamentations about unpaid labor, disrespectful government officials, the meaning of poverty, and the dignity of work provide vital insights into the contested nature of the formation of the Argentine Confederation. Wandering Paysanos discloses a complex world until now obscured—that of rural Argentine subalterns confronting the state.


"Wandering Paysanos is an outstanding contribution to both the history of the first half of the nineteenth-century in Argentina and the recuperation of subaltern voices in Latin American studies."
— José Antonio Sánchez Román, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Wandering Paysanos is destined to change the way specialists in nineteenth-century Argentine and Spanish American history think about the Rosas Era and the broader problems of caudillismo and peasant politics. . . . [R]ichly documented and theoretically sophisticated. . . ."
— James A. Wood , The Latin Americanist

"[A] landmark book. . . . Wandering Paysanos is filled with illuminating insights into the Rosas period." — Matthew B. Karush , Labor

"[A]n important book. . . .Wandering Paysanos is an excellent, readable, well-researched book. . . . This book contains compelling new insights that will be valuable not only to Latin American historians but to all scholars interested in issues of subaltern experience, penology, rural studies, and caudillismo." — Karen Racine , Canadian Journal of History

"Impressive. . . . Salvatore's analysis is rich and nuanced." — Ruth Stanley, Crime, History and Societies

"Masterful. . . . The book contains much of interest to scholars, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates specializing in peasant studies, comparative development in Latin America, Latin American history, and penal and military history. . . . Vivid and absorbing. . . . This is social history at its best." — Lisa Kowalchuk , American Journal of Sociology

"In this informative, well-researched and highly original work, Salvatore has made a major contribution to the understanding of a nineteenth-century Latin American society ruled by a dictatorship." — David Rock , Social History

"Salvatore's book constitutes a thought-provoking work. . . . [T]his is a very stimulating and original book that deserves to be read and subjected to thorough discussion." — Juan Iñigo Carrera, Journal of Agrarian Change

"This book . . . reinforces Salvatore's standing as a leading observer of the relationship between state and rural citizenry during the nation's formative stages. Its archival depth and nuanced arguments give it unusual strength." — Mark D. Szuchman , Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This book represents an enormous contribution . . . to the political and social history of rural populations of nineteenth-century Latin America." — Jose C. Moya, The Americas

“In the best tradition of subaltern studies, Ricardo Salvatore goes to the military records, court cases, and police files that most reveal the testimony of the popular classes. His book represents the most complete and nuanced analysis of the lives of peons, migrants, itinerants, and common soldiers—including their dress, family relationships, interaction with the Rosista state, and demands for liberty in the job market. Wandering Paysanos is both theoretically sophisticated and richly documented.” — Jonathan C. Brown, University of Texas

"Meticulously researched in official correspondence, military records, judicial archives, political poetry, and other popular narratives, Wandering Paysanos contributes importantly to interdisciplinary discussions of modern state formation and rural political and social consciousness. Few students of the Latin American past can match Salvatore in combining skillful analysis of political, social, and economic relations with an ability to deconstruct and interpret texts. This volume redeems the promise of Latin American subaltern studies." — Gilbert M. Joseph, Yale University


Availability: In stock
Price: $79.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ricardo D. Salvatore is Professor of Modern History at Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires. He is coeditor of Crime and Punishment in Latin America: Law and Society since Late Colonial Times and Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.Latin American Relations, both published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Tables and Illustrations xiii

Introduction 1

1. The Ways of the Market 25

2. Cash Nexus and Conflict 61

3. Provincianos’ Paths to Work 95

4. Class by Appearance 129

5. The Power of Laws 161

6. The Making of Crime 197

7. The Experience of Punishment 232

8. Regiments: Negotiation and Protest 262

9. Deserters’ Reasons 295

10. Memories of War 325

11. Rituals of Federalism 361

12. Subalterns and Progress 394

Conclusion 423

Notes 429

Glossary 493

References 497

Index 517
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3086-8