The topic of Argentina’s break from Spain and toward independence has concerned Argentine historians since the late 19th century, a period when authors published the country’s first research-based histories. For generations, scholars focused on the words and actions of individuals who emerged as leaders of the independence process. These histories centered on the ideals and events between 1810 and 1816 as significant and determinant, and they depicted Argentina’s break from Spanish authority as autonomous and self-directed. Beginning in the 1970s, Argentine scholars led a revisionist turn that first explored the context that shaped the political process and both motivated and limited the leaders and the factions that they represented. As was true with the study of other revolutions that took place in the Atlantic World during the late 18th and early 18th centuries, the focus for researchers expanded with shifts toward economic, social, and cultural influences. By the 1990s, the traditional narrative had fallen away in favor of a recognition that fundamental assumptions overlooked historical conditions. While events in North America and, for a time, France inspired discussion circles and correspondence among activists, rebellions within Spanish America and the revolution in Haiti, which underscored the potential cost of a break with authority, chilled any revolutionary push. In turn, the British attempts to capture Buenos Aires in 1806 and 1807, which led porteños to form their own militia that defeated the invaders, focused local ambitions on a push for more autonomy within the Spanish Empire. When Napoleonic forces invaded Spain and captured King Ferdinand VII in 1808, the question of who ruled whom pushed the issue of independence forward. Royalist resistance, regional differences, and factional strife within the revolutionary movement complicated and slowed the move toward independence. Recent studies have again broadened the topic in useful directions. When the Cabildo Abierto in Buenos Aires convened to determine who and what form of government should rule in the place of the absent king, what exactly the council in the viceregal capital represented, who it spoke for, and what its relationship would be with Spain and the wider world was not clear. Recent work has added to our understanding of independence beyond Buenos Aires, comparing regions that resisted efforts to keep the colonial boundaries intact with those that remained linked to the capital, either willingly or by force. Social and cultural studies have helped us to better appreciate the role and the actions of the many whose lives and experiences marked the era.
The first histories of independence presented a linear narrative that focused on the political ambitions of Manuel Belgrano and the military achievements of José de San Martín. The protagonists and events in Mitre 1967–1968 as well as Levene 1960 placed Argentines in a pantheon with their successful counterparts in North and South America. Halperín-Donghi 1975 pioneered a shift toward efforts to understand and account for material and social factors that shaped the independence process. The move toward explorations of broader contexts and conditions is well represented in Szuchman and Brown 1994, which tracks the legacy of the independence struggles and division through the consolidation of the Argentine Confederation. As Academia Nacional de la Historia 2000–2001 demonstrates, a generation of scholarship has moved the focus away from the engaged elite, their pronouncements, and actions toward a full range of material, social, and cultural issues and topics that stretch into the interior of what emerged as Argentina as well as the port of Buenos Aires.
Academia Nacional de la Historia. Nueva Historia de la Nación Argentina: La configuración de la República independiente, 1810–c. 1914. Vols. 4–6. Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta Argentina, 2000–2001.
An update of the academy’s first multivolume national history, the three volumes present chapters authored by Argentina’s leading historians that address a full range of political, social, economic, and cultural topics.
Botana, Natalio R. Repúblicas y monarquías: La encrucijada de la independencia. Buenos Aires: Edhasa, 2016.
Focused on the period 1810–1816, explores the difficult, divided political circumstances that left Argentina independent but incompletely consolidated.
Fradkin, Raúl O., and Jorge Daniel Gelman, eds. Doscientos años pensando la Revolución de Mayo. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 2010.
Combines selections from documents and writings from the revolutionary era along with scholarly works that represent different generations of historical approaches. Includes short biographies and sketches of major historiographical positions and trends.
Halperín-Donghi, Tulio. Politics, Economics, and Society in Argentina in the Revolutionary Period. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
A shift away from histories that focused on the lead actors, their asserted ideals, and their achievements toward the exploration of the historical context and broader social, material, and ideological factors that shaped the course of events.
Levene, Ricardo. Ensayo histórico sobre la Revolución de Mayo y Mariano Moreno: Contribución al estudio de los aspectos político, jurídico y económico de la Revolución de 1810. 3 vols. 4th ed. Buenos Aires: Editorial Peuser, 1960.
A posthumous expanded and revised edition of one of the traditional studies, originally published in 1941, that narrates the revolution and its early success through the ideas and actions of Moreno, characterized as a leading protagonist and architect of the move toward independence.
Mitre, Bartolomé. Historia de Belgrano y de la independencia argentina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires, 1967–1968.
The first significant work on the era. First published in 1857, its focus on Belgrano exemplifies the once dominant focus on “great men” as the main subject of historical investigations.
Ocampo, Emilio. La independencia argentina: De la fábula a la historia. Buenos Aires: Claridad, 2016.
Starting in a place similar to early classic studies, it presents a nuanced position that connects the revolutionary leadership with the rise of authoritarian governments that replace the failed Unitario project. Challenges leftist and traditional polemics and incorporates generations of research into a clear narrative.
Rato de Sambuccetti, Susana. La Revolución de Mayo: Interpretaciones conflictivas. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Siglo Veinte, 1983.
A sound, well-supported overview that provides a narrative, interpretations, and selections of primary source materials related to the origins, the economic shifts, and the state-building efforts of the revolutionaries.
Ruiz Rodríguez, Ignacio. Entre patriotas y libertadores: La otra guerra de la independencia; La invasión napoleónica y la emancipación del Virreinato del Río de la Plata, 1808–1814. Madrid: Dykinson, 2008.
Instead of the recognized divisions between local factions that represent the typical focus of political histories, the author connects the revolution’s with a broader, empire-wide conflict characterized as a split between a faction that supported reforms introduced across the Atlantic by the French occupation of Spain versus another that resisted any significant break from structures and practices put into place by the Bourbon authorities with the establishment of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.
Szuchman, Mark D., and Jonathan C. Brown, eds. Revolution and Restoration: The Rearrangement of Power in Argentina, 1776–1860. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.
Presents contributions from a range of Argentine and North American scholars that address political, social, military, and economic topics that, taken together, explore the roots, the course, and the aftermath of the independence struggle.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Abortion and Infanticide
- Agricultural Technologies
- Alcohol Use
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Beauty in Latin America
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Bolaño, Roberto
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- California Missions, The
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Central America, The Archaeology of
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Latin America, Crime and Punishment in
- Colonial Latin America, Pilgrimage in
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Indigenous Social and Political Thought
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Cortés, Hernán
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- Education in New Spain
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Franciscans in Colonial Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender and History in the Andes
- Gender during the Period of Latin American Independence
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Independence in Argentina
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jesuits in Colonial Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Theater and Performance
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Menchú, Rigoberta
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- Natural Disasters in Early Modern Latin America
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Nuns and Convents in Colonial Latin America
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Science and Technology in Modern Latin America
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- South American Missions
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Sports in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 19th Century and Modernismo Poetry in Spanish America
- 20th-Century Mexico, Mass Media and Consumer Culture in
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Tourism in Modern Latin America
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- US–Latin American Relations during the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Women's Property Rights, Asset Ownership, and Wealth in La...
- World War I in Latin America
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas