Hamre’s dissertation analyses Argentine history textbooks for the secondary school in the genre’s first fifty years of existence. Nine bodies of manuals by as many authors are studied from a historiographical perspective, discovering their interpretations of the history of the patria through a qualitative reading.
Argentina saw a relatively early development of national history both as a school subject and as an academic discipline. However, the textbooks produced often received harsh criticism. A general impression was passed on establishing the idea of a uniform and constant, “official” history-writing. Hamre shows that this is not an accurate description of the textbooks published in the formative years of the genre. On the contrary, they reveal a multifaceted textual universe.
Admittedly, the main topic in all of them was the independence revolution in the early nineteenth century. This was made the decisive birth moment in the national narrative, departing from an essentially political concept of the nation. The colonial era served as an explanatory background; however, there were different interpretations of colonial history, just as there were diverging approaches to later developments. In general, there was a progressive tendency to reclaim the colonial period and the Hispanic legacy. Also, the protracted conflicts over the state-building processes following independence were, eventually, interpreted in manners that might point towards later “historical revisionism” in Argentina. There was, however, no uniform line of development in any of this. More recent periods received minimal attention; the dynamic transformations of contemporary Argentina, not least due to mass immigration, were not dealt with. Still, they were crucial in shaping the strong public interest in national history that the same textbooks expressed.