Tango Mulatto: The Untold Afro-Argentine History of Tango, 1800s-1900s




Parkhurst, Laurel

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During the time of nation-building Argentina constructed a Europeanized identity that rejected nonwhite and particularly African cultures. Tango is likely a synthesis of candombe, a dance developed from the African nations in the River Plate region and from milonga which stemmed from the payada traditions of the gauchos. However, because of the insistence on erasing African elements in Argentine culture, the Afro-Argentine contribution to tango is often denied or unnoticed. To research this topic, I analyzed secondary sources such as texts from political leaders, scholars, and writers, as well as consulted primary resources including Afro-Argentine newspapers from the late 1800’s. I found convincing evidence to suggest the rhythm and certain chorographical elements of tango were borrowed from candombe. The recognition of a hybrid black and white tango would force Argentina to rethink its white nation identity and open itself to the possibility of confronting its racial past.



Latin American, history, race, tango, Argentina, Honors College


Parkhurst, L. (2019). Tango mulatto: The untold Afro-Argentine history of tango, 1800s-1900s (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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