Year of Graduation


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Restricted Access Thesis

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First Advisor

Krista Van Vleet


This paper investigates the current national origin myth of Argentina as exceptional among Latin American nations—Argentina sees itself and encourages others to see it as a whiter, more European nation, thanks to waves of European and especially Italian immigrants. I focus on the Italian immigrants who came to Argentina following World War II, as my own family fled Italy in this period. One of my relatives, Armando Tirri, immigrated to Argentina, and I still have family who live there. Interviews with these family members have inspired this examination of family origin stories and the ways in which those stories (and language practices within them) echo the national origin story. This project centers on the experiences of Mariel Tirri (daughter of Armando) and her daughter, Valentina Egidio, to evaluate how Italians impacted Argentina’s “exceptional” identity. I argue that the Tirri family’s origin stories resonates in complicated, interesting ways with the national origin story of Argentina as a “whiter” nation. The findings of this work illuminate aspects of immigrant experiences, especially around language and identity, and may allow governments to develop policy that responds more productively to immigrant populations. It can also elucidate the ways in which racism may be enacted through seemingly benign means, such as language practice and narrative framing of a country’s origin and history. It may also deepen understandings of the ties between linguistic and racial identities and ideologies in order to promote new forms of expression and inclusion in diverse societies.


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