The Research Seminar in Latin American Studies is pleased to present:
Ben Bryce (University of Northern British Columbia), “Mutualism versus Paternalism: Immigration, Social Welfare, and Community Ideologies in Buenos Aires, 1880-1955”
November 2, 2016, 2-4pm
Boardroom, 3rd Floor, Liu Institute for Global Issues
In 1920, seven immigrant-run hospitals formed a fundamental part of the health network of Buenos Aires. The Italian, Spanish, British, German, French, Galician, and Jewish hospitals treated 20 percent of all hospitalized patients in the city. Through these institutions, European immigrants provided social welfare in addition to the services offered at other hospitals or by the doctors funded by the municipal government. Through the revenue from paying patients and the large charitable donations solicited by female philanthropists, the wealthy immigrant men and women who ran these hospitals and dozens of other mutual aid societies in the Argentine capital strove to provide free services to working-class immigrants of a common cultural background. In so doing, they transcended the individual communities that they aspired to lead, and they played a role in shaping the broader system of social welfare in the Argentine capital.
This paper examines in particular the ideologies behind this health care project common to various groups of immigrants in Buenos Aires. Each institution struck its own balance between mutualism and elite charity. By focusing on the ideologies behind these services – shaped by a mix of left-of-center mutualism and right-of-center paternalistic charity – the paper illustrates the importance of ideologies (political, religious, economic, and social) in shaping immigrant communities in Buenos Aires. It also seeks to highlight the importance of non-state actors in the system of social welfare that existed for the half century before the rise of Juan Perón in 1946 and a transformation of government services. Drawing especially on the records and annual reports from the Italian, British, Galician, and German hospitals and on Catalan and Spanish mutual aid societies, this paper seeks to fuse the typically separate fields of migration and the welfare state in Latin America.
Benjamin Bryce is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Northern British Columbia, where he teaches Latin American history and thematic courses on topics such as migration and health in a global context. He is the author of Citizenship and Belonging: Germans, Argentines, and the Meaning of Ethnicity in Buenos Aires, 1880-1930 (Stanford University Press, 2017). He is also the co-editor of Making Citizens in Argentina (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017) and Entangling Migration History: Borderlands and Transnationalism in the United States and Canada (University Press of Florida, 2015).