Voyage Argentina

Arnd Schneider
15 minutes

Argentina received more immigrants relative to the indigenous population than the USA, Canada or Australia.

In three short stories, this documentary explores what the American dream - made in Argentina - means to immigrants and their descendants in contemporary Argentina.

Felipe and José Lavore run a barbershop in Buenos Aires' oldest neighbourhood, San Telmo. When they started in the 1920s, their equipment - barber chairs imported from the US, was modern - and so was Argentina, then one of the world's richest nations. It was a time when people danced the Tango, and the quest for prosperity attracted thousands of immigrants, among them the parents of Felipe and José who arrived from Sicily.

Américo Copani, another descendant of Sicilians, was educated in an Anglo-Argentine college. Like many Argentines searching for their roots, Américo's son made the journey to find documentation in a Sicilian town hall, whilst his father didn't "feel the urge to travel". In his general store, almost empty because he cannot afford to buy new stock, Américo reminisces about family souvenirs, such as a tin horse his father bought for his brother in the 1920s. Angelika and Nikos Moraitis came from Greece after WW II, seeking refuge in Argentina from famine and destruction. However, 50 years later their dreams have been shattered by the experience of political violence, social decomposition and economic instability. Like many descendants of Italians and Spaniards (the largest immigrant groups), Nikos also wants to go home, but his wife has a different opinion.

Arnd Schneider
Suggested readings: 
Futures Lost: Nostalgia and Identity among Italian immigrants in Argentina (Oxford/Bern: Peter Lang Publishers, 2000).
South America: 
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