Letters of Tyrants and Exiles: Mariquita Sanchez and Juan Manuel de Rosas Write

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 9:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom A (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Jeffrey Shumway, Brigham Young University
In 1836 Juan Manuel de Rosas was puzzled that his childhood friend, Mariquita Sánchez, was leaving Buenos Aires. “Why are you leaving, Marica?” he asked her in a note. “Because I’m afraid of you,” she answered. Mariquita left Buenos Aires for Montevideo, an especially difficult move for her because she was intimately involved in the revolutionary society of the 1810s that helped bring Argentina into existence. Disconnected from friends, family, and from the country she loved, Mariquita found an outlet in writing. She wrote dozens and dozens of letters to friends and relatives, touching on topics ranging from the political to the cultural to the personal. When Mariquita Sánchez finally returned to Argentina, it was Rosas’ turn to go into exile, where he, cut off from his family, property, and nation, also wrote numerous letters. This paper will use correspondence from Mariquita Sánchez and Juan Manuel de Rosas to analyze the role of letters in shaping Argentine politics and culture in the early years of Argentina’s formation, with a particular attention to the light they shed on the role of exiles.

            Mariquita and Rosas’ letters from exile offer a rich opportunity to analyze the role of letters both as historical sources, but also as shapers of history. Their letters will allow us to examine apparent similarities and differences between Rosas and Mariquita, while also testing some persistent stereotypes. Mariquita and Rosas came from similar class backgrounds, but they differed most obviously in their politics. Culturally Mariquita looked toward Europe while Rosas has been painted as one who resisted European encroachments, both militarily and culturally. Infused in all aspects of this comparison is how their writings reflect gender relations in the early national period of Argentina. A close examination of their letters will complicate the traditional view of these two figures.


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