3794 - Role of Blacks in Transforming Cattle Ranching on the Pampas in the Nineteenth Century

The balde sin fondo (bottomless bucket) was a key innovation during the rapid expansion and transformation of cattle ranching on the Pampas of Argentina during the nineteenth century. It allowed the initial expansion of ranching into areas of grassland that lacked reliable surface water supplies by allowing ranchers to efficiently lift water from stockwells during a period of labor scarcity. A series of later devices such as the balde volcador (self-tipping bucket) and manga de lona (self-tipping tube) elaborated on the basic principle of the prototypical balde sin fondo . All such devices were replaced by the US-style windmill in the late nineteenth century. Historians relying on textual sources have long attributed the invention of the prototypical balde sin fondo to a white man named Vicente Lanuza. Reconsideration of those textual sources in conjunction with additional archival sources, material culture artifacts, and illustrations reveals that Lanuza took the idea for the bottomless bucket from African slaves. Although those sources cannot reveal the exact details, Lanuza appropriated the principle and design of the balde sin fondo from blacks and then patented it and tried to profit from it. Those blacks were among the relatively large number of Senegambians who came to Buenos Aires at the end of the colonial period, some of whom were familiar with the cattle herding, extensive grasslands, use of stockwells, and construction and use of bottomless buckets to raise water from wells in the Sahel zone of Africa.

Palabras claves: ranching, water, Argentina, Pampas, Africans

Autores: Sluyter, Andrew (Louisiana State University, Ud States of Am / USA)


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