Law and Diversity in the Río de la Plata-Argentina (19th-20th Centuries)

Research Project

A history of the production of subjectivities by Argentinean legal system.

The system of European continental law of modernity is organized around the principle of equality. This juridical-political principle spread rapidly throughout Latin America from the 18th century onwards. However, the demands for equality coming from the new philosophical-political discourses did not imply a radical dislocation from the long tradition of legal knowledge of Indian law. From the coexistence and interweaving of the new egalitarian principle in a political-legal order governed by a casuismo, based on the difference in status, a particular way of understanding the new principle emerged. From that intertwining of dissimilar projects and traditions came the modern law, which considered equality based on varying criteria. 

Within this framework, this project aims at the following:

  • To understand the twisting of the egalitarian principle to ensure social governance during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Río de la Plata-Argentina. To this end, it analyzes the way in which, from judicial rulings, special laws and constitutional interpretations, equality was conceived not in general but in particular. This is exclusively within each group constructed-recognized by the law. 
  • At the same time, this project seeks to problematize the scheme that posits the distortions of this principle as the continuity of old knowledge. One thing to be observed is how the entry of new modes of social categorizations based on liberal discourse produced alternative divisions to those of the Ancien Régime. On this point, the hypothesis followed here is that modern law operated in a two-pronged manner. On the one hand, it eroded the old identities of indigenous peoples, Afro-Americans, etc. On the other hand, it produced a new social differentiation based on the legal-economic discourse between workers, peasants, immigrants, educated people, criminals, vagrants, etc. 
  • The formation of this "new diversity" by the legal system produced, in turn, a particular collective memory that was tributary to the symbolic order instituted from the 19th century onwards. Hence, at the juridical-political level, Argentine society has been prevented from rediscovering the groups and identities that were degraded by the new representation of the social brought about by the legal system. This point involves analyzing the sociological-legal imaginaries surrounding Argentina and their role in the naturalization of a particular and novel non-egalitarian diversity. To this end, it will be studied the particular representations that the constitutional history of Argentina, produced by jurists, provides for the teaching of law. 
  • Finally, the formation of contemporary administrative law in Argentina (20th century) will be studied. In particular, this branch of law will be considered as a device generated for the crystallization of imaginaries about the diversities produced in the 19th century. Thus, the study of the corporatist theories of the 1930s, the regulatory police power, the special orders according to the groups recognized by law, etc. will be analyzed as the reinforcement of a social representation constructed by jurists, which precludes the demands for the recognition generated by other diversities. 
Go to Editor View