Cheryl Jiménez Frei | Journal of Latin American Studies
In 2013, Argentina’s then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sparked controversy for her decision to replace a monument of Christopher Columbus in Buenos Aires with one of nineteenth-century mestiza revolutionary Juana Azurduy. This article examines the history and iconography of these monuments, exploring the intersections between public space, art, politics and memory. It argues that these monuments — one representing Argentina’s previously maligned Italian immigrant heritage, the other its forgotten indigenous culture — demonstrate how fundamental struggles over national identity have been embedded and contested in the capital’s urban landscape, in ways that remain influential. It highlights Argentina’s 1910 centennial and 2010 bicentennial as key to these efforts, and examines the power/politics of place in the central plaza where various actors have fought for public commemorative representation.