Perón and Peronism
- LAST REVIEWED: 22 January 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0041
- LAST REVIEWED: 22 January 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0041
Peronism is an Argentine political phenomenon born on 17 October 1945. Its name comes from an army colonel named Juan Perón, a key figure of the military dictatorship established in 1943. Three periods can be identified in the history of Peronism: 1943–1955, 1955–1976, and 1976–present. During the first period, Perón was elected president twice, and his wife, Eva, acquired star status. Intensive social policies were carried out by the government at the expense of society, and there was an increasing political polarization. Following a clash with the Catholic Church, Perón was ousted by the army generals in September 1955. The Peronist Party was banned, and Peronism was thought to disappear—but it did not. Political instability characterized the second period. The dilemma was how integrate Peronism into the democratic fold. When a solution was found after eighteen years, it implied Perón’s return to Argentina and to the presidency. By then, Peronism had turned into a labor-based party. Once in office again, Perón had to confront rising political violence. When he died, Isabel Perón failed to follow in his footsteps. The armed forces removed her, and a new period began for Peronism and Argentina. During the third period, Peronism changed again. After losing the 1983 presidential election that put an end to the last military dictatorship, Labor lost influence vis-à-vis the newly elected governors and mayors. At this point, Peronism turned into a political force based upon extended clientelistic networks. The literature on the first period is overwhelming and still growing. The literature on the second period focuses mainly on what were the main Peronist actors while Perón was in exile—trade unions and guerrillas and their peripheral organizations. The literature on the third period is much thinner, because, with Peronism’s merging into mainstream politics, there was less need for specific studies.
All general overviews on Peronism deal with the 1943–1955 period, but there is none covering its whole history to the present. Gambini 2008 comes close to completing this task but stops in 1983. The author leaves out, consequently, the history of Peronism since the restoration of constitutional rule, a period that has undergone significant changes. Gambini 1999, Gambini 2001, and Luna 1984–1986 are good narrative introductions, but they focus almost exclusively on political events. Torre 2002 offers the greatest coverage of the subject, with many chapters written by scholars who have whole books on the same issues. Waldmann 1974 provides deep, still valuable insights into the Perón regime. Zanatta 2009 is the best introduction to the subject for readers who have no previous exposure to it because the author takes into account early 21st-century scholarship and addresses all relevant issues.
Gambini, Hugo. Historia del peronismo. Vol. 1, El poder total, 1943–1951. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Planeta, 1999.
The author was a member of the Primera Plana team that prepared, back in the mid-1960s, the first journalistic history of Peronism, characterized by heavy reliance on the actors’ accounts. He takes advantage of that experience to write a narrative history underlining the nondemocratic traits of the Perón regime.
Gambini, Hugo. Historia del peronismo. Vol. 2, La obsecuencia, 1952–1955. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Planeta, 2001.
A sequel to Gambini 1999, this volume covers from Perón’s re-election as president to his fall. As in the first volume, much information can be found, but not a systematic, academic approach.
Gambini, Hugo. Historia del peronismo. Vol. 3, La violencia, 1956–1983. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Planeta, 2008.
By choosing violence as the standpoint to render the history of Peronism after Perón’s downfall, the author leaves to one side the slow process leading to its full integration into the democratic realm. Keener on narrative fluency than on political analysis, he retains in this volume the journalistic flavor characteristic of the previous ones.
Luna, Félix. Perón y su tiempo. 3 vols. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Sudamericana, 1984–1986.
The author was an opposition activist who was imprisoned and tortured during the Perón regime. But, he opposed Perón, the man, rather than his policies. Four decades later, when he published this book, he was a well-known historian who had made his name in the field of popular rather than academic history. This book addresses mainly the general public, but scholars cannot ignore it.
Torre, Juan Carlos, ed. Nueva historia argentina. Vol. 8, Los años peronistas, 1943–1955. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Sudamericana, 2002.
Specialists in every field are brought together to summarize their own book-length contributions on different aspects of the Perón regime. Consequently, there are chapters by Potash, on the army; Navarro, on Eva Perón; Caimari, on the Catholic Church; and so on. Torre’s own contributions are first-rate studies. Anyone interested in the Perón regime should read this book after Zanatta 2009.
Waldmann, Peter. Der Peronismus, 1943–1955. Kritische Wissenschaft. Hamburg, West Germany: Hoffmann und Campe, 1974.
Its 1981 Spanish translation became an instant classic in Argentina. Today, readers may find less interesting its theoretical framework, drawn from what was then-current social science of the 1970s, than its superb analysis of the main traits of Perón’s regime.
Zanatta, Loris. Breve historia del peronismo clásico. Translated by Carlos Catroppi. Nudos do la historia Argentina. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Sudamericana, 2009.
A brief book, certainly, but in no way insignificant. It offers a balanced narrative of the Perón regime, referred to, in the early 21st century, as classic Peronism to tell it apart from its later history. As other distinguished non-Argentine scholars have done, the author has turned distance from the scene into an asset to study Peronism free from the weight of past and present political pressures and ephemeral, fashionable opinions.
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