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5110 - Rediscovering the Muslim Communities in Argentina, 1920-1946

Thousands of Arabic-speaking Muslims settled in Argentina by 1920, establishing cultural institutions in the process to serve the community. Despite this large number of people, little scholarship exists on the diversity, development and integration of this portion of the larger Arabic-speaking collectivity. The Muslim population in Argentina reflected the diversity of the eastern Mediterranean, including Sunnis, Shiʿa, Ismaʿilis, ʿAlawites and Druzes. This paper seeks to address this historiographical gap by highlighting the diversity of this religious group and showing the evolution of institutional life and the growth of its Arabic press organs in the River Plate. In addition, this paper will illustrate some of the key concerns confronted by Muslims, such as educating their children, the celebration of key religious holidays and the politics of the homeland. Muslims in Argentina were proactive in establishing institutions, including religious schools serving boys and girls of the community. Secondly, they also were ecumenical among themselves, not dividing along historical antagonisms between, for instance, Sunnis and Shi ʿ a. Finally, Muslims in Argentina had warm relations with their Christian and Jewish compatriots, celebrating respective holidays, participating in secular, broad-based immigrant institutions and contributing to shared political causes. This paper utilizes Arabic-language community newspapers, memoirs, oral testimony, poetry, photographs, Argentine press and other Spanish-language qualitative sources. It also attempts to contribute to better understanding the creation of collective memory and the construction and maintenance of personal immigrant identities in the face of competing loyalties and multiple pressures.

Palabras claves: Migration, Diaspora, Muslims, Argentina, Syria

Autores: Hyland Jr., Steven (Wingate University, Ud States of Am / USA)

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