Morals, Civilization and Behavior in Europe and Argentina in the Eyes of a Creole Traveler
In nineteenth century Latin America, the legitimization of a new social order was a crucial factor in the creation of modern nations, and it has been underscored how the most important narratives about nation-building were established in this period. In Argentina, literary, journalistic, epistolary, scientific and administrative texts addressed the issue of the legitimacy of the social order, posing ideas of modernity, nation and civilization that fought to predominate over others. Therefore, written discourse can be recognized as an arena of dispute of symbolic hegemony in the social representations of modernization and progress rather than as a mere vehicle for the imposition of a homogeneous culture of the dominant classes. Thus, chronicles, literary texts and epistles constitute necessary sources for a critical interpretation of the notions of culture, civilization and morality in the period that is today characterized as the period when the foundations of Latin American modernity were created.
This paper analyzes the discursive footprints of these social changes in Argentina through the travelogue that Gabriel Carrasco, a conspicuous member of the local and national elite, scientist, writer, and statesman, wrote when visiting Europe in 1889. With this aim, we explore the notions of civilized behavior, morals, vice, and violence contained in it.