Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia in the Humanities and Arts

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La máquina cultural: maestras, traductores y vanguardistas

Excerpted from: Patricia Espinosa. (translated by Adán Griego)
"Three Moments That Tell Argentina's History." La Maga, May 15, 1998, pp. 10-11

In the first chapter Sarlo analyzes the story of Rosa del Rio, a rural school teacher in the early 1900s.

Sarlo: "...between the 1880s and the 1930s, Argentine schools were terribly effective. But also very authoritative... By around 1920, it could guarantee an almost 100% literacy. In the 20s, teachers occupied a place of social prestige, which was tied to not only symbolic but material benefits as well."

In describing the humble origins of the school teacher

Sarlo: "It's a family of immigrants, as was half of Buenos Aires at that time, when expenditures of what today we call 'symbolic goods' (newspapers and magazines) were not part of the family budget. School textbooks were about the only books accessible to households. For this's quite clear the impact that these books had in her family, where there was no other type of printed material."

The second chapter re-visits the figure of literary patron Victoria Ocampo.

Sarlo: "In the 60s and 70s, the notion that Victoria Ocampo was part of the oligarchy impeded any approach to her as a figure. Being a rich woman, it would seem that her story lacks the drama of the school teacher. At the same time Ocampo was a woman that went beyond the moral and cultural limits of the women of her social class, using her money to finance a magazine [Sur]. Indeed she is part of a priviledged class, but someone who forever transgressed the limits of that social class."

The final chapter describes the politicized activity of a group of late 1960s and early 1970 filmmakers

Sarlo: " I was intrigued by how these films were able to maintain, without solving or closing, the relationship between an experimental aesthetic and political action. It think that was the last time when the artistic avant-garde met radical politics. That could not happen today because there is no more avant-garde..."

© La Maga, 1998


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