Temperance movement in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, 1876-1933 (dissertation)

Sönke Pascal Bauck, “Nüchterne Staatsbürger für junge Nationen: Antialkoholaktivismus in einer atlantischen Welt (Buenos Aires und Montevideo, 1876-1933)” [Sober Citizens for Young Nations.]  (Ph.D., Zürich, 2016) It looks at the anti-alcohol activism of a global temperance movement in the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
‘Sober citizens for young nations’ analyzes the anti-alcohol activism of a global temperance movement in the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It looks at the changing relationships within transnational networks and the meanings as
well as contradictions of this activism in relation to projects of nation-building in Argentina and Uruguay. Being the first comprehensive study on this matter in the region, it goes beyond traditional, ‘national’ histories of alcohol. Instead, it focuses on transatlantic processes of negotiation over social reform. Between 1876 and 1933 medical experts shaped discourses about alcoholism, classifying the latter as the f irst ‘modern’ form of addiction. Socialists took this knowledge up and sought to convey ideas about the degenerative effects of alcohol consumption and the advantages of a workingclass morality to male workers. Social conservative activists, too, initiated temperance campaigns. These mostly female activists tried to confirm
their middle and upper class positions in society through ‘civilizing’ workingclass families under the framework of a particular female morality. To some women, female morality became a starting point for advocating women’s suffrage. Anti-alcohol activists of all persuasions identified a national civilizing mission as their common goal. They conceived of a society divided by categories of race, class and gender, a notion that was shared by transnational activists like the missionaries of
the World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The inte
ractions and negotiations between socialist and social conservative activists show how national reformers positioned themselves between a North Atlantic ‘modernity’ and a supposedly backward South America. Despite being guided by different ideological and religious world views, they all prescribed reforms against the ‘social illness’ alcoholism in ‘young’ nations and tried to alter habits like the consumption of
liquor and wine by propagating soberness as part of a bourgeois code of morality in a ‘civilized’ society. In conclusion, this study suggests that reform movements were entangled in complex relationships that went beyond the limits of national territories: since 1876, male medical experts gazed towards Europe from Buenos Aires and Montevideo, considered to be the ‘centers’ within an otherwise ‘uncivilized’ continent, and from 1914 onwards, female moral reformers connected with the US temperance movement. The movements in Buenos Aires and Montevideo developed their own, though similar,approaches in activities, programs and actions against the background of adverse forces, such as the consumers of wine. The latter opposed the idea of sobered, ‘europeanized’ nations at the River Plate. The discourse on alcoholism, educational campaigns and legislative initiatives highlight how medical experts and moral reformers positioned their concept of
‘nation’ in a process of adaptation and dissociation towards other national movements and marginalized sections of their own societies.
My thanks to the Frances Willard archives for this information.
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