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An Argentine Mosaic: Destino Patagonia

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Uploaded on Jun 24, 2009

"An Argentine Mosaic: Destino Patagonia" is a 71-minute bi-lingual documentary film produced by Marcelo Borges and Susan Rose at the Community Studies Center at Dickinson College. It focuses on the multiple (im)migration stories that led to the development of Comodoro Rivadavia, in the Patagonia region of Argentina, and surrounding oil company towns. For more information and/or to to purchase a copy, please refer to: http://www.dickinson.edu/departments/... or email csc@dickinson.edu



Synopsis:

Since 1907, when petroleum was discovered near the small port of Comodoro Rivadavia, on the sparsely populated coast of central Patagonia, company towns were developed by the Argentine state and foreign companies to attract a steady supply of workers. The oil fields and the economic activities that emerged around them (services, commerce, agriculture) drew a diverse labor force from southern and Eastern Europe, mostly from Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Germany and the former Yugoslavia. These migrants joined a small population of earlier European merchants and South African ranchers already settled in the area. These developments and the growth of the Comodoro region were linked to larger processes of labor mobility, urbanization, economic growth, and community formation that took place in the larger transatlantic space during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and contributed greatly to shaping modern Argentina. Because of its unprecedented scale, transatlantic migrations have figured prominently in the narrative of national formation in Argentina and the regional settlement of Patagonia and Comodoro Rivadavia. A parallel movement, however, of workers from neighboring countries and internal migrants from the northwest of Argentina contributed significantly to the development of the region.
The multiethnic community of Comodoro Rivadavia offers a unique opportunity to analyze the ways in which groups of diverse origins relate to the traditional historical memory of Argentina as a country of immigrants. Given the diversity of migration flows, the identity of the Patagonian-Comodorense is multifaceted. Various groups developed different and unique versions of their individual and collective histories in relation to their participation in the symbolic and material construction of their community. The people of Comodoro Rivadavia have created collective histories that emphasize their role as pioneers, their difficulties in facing severe climatic conditions, and their isolation. This work seeks, inside this general narrative, to reveal the existence of multiple versions of this historic experience which is representative of the immigrant experience of Argentina as a whole. In analyzing the existence of parallel and intersecting histories, and comparing and contrasting the visions of migrants from different origins and time periods, this work goes beyond the limits and approaches of the traditional historiography of Argentina. Utilizing oral history interviews and archival materials, it explores the construction of multiple identities as one of the multiple versions of this complex historic process.

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