African Immigrants in Argentina Post-Slavery: An Old-New Odyssey

Alain Lawo-Sukam


In this interdisciplinary article, I address the less known migration of Africans in South America, especially in Argentina. This is significant because studies on African migrations have focused mainly on European and North American routes (north-south), living aside south-south paths. The complex experience of the first African immigrants in Argentina relates to a certain extent and also contrasts with the recent migrations of the twenty-first century. Because of (post)colonial history, collective/personal experience and stories, African immigrants are finding new homes in Argentina. However, recent changes in immigration policies relaxed under previous governments could jeopardize this el dorado. This article also intends to re-frame studies on African immigration in Argentina that have concentrated their attention on Sub-Saharans and left aside North African as well as South African (Boers) experiences. I argue that to talk about African diaspora (hi)story in Argentina is to embrace Africanness in its totality and complexity, as well as embracing Pan-Africanism beyond Pan-Negroism. This study takes into consideration the framing questions on migration raised by Hasia Diner, Kim Butler, Caroline Brettell, and James Hollifield which includes the reasons for and conditions of the dispersal. The article is also based on eclectic sources combining personal experience, interviews, archival sources, history, and critical analysis.


Full Text:



“African Immigrants Turn to Argentina for Opportunity.” YouTube, uploaded by Celestin Nengumbi. March 1, 2011, Accessed 15 January 2019.

Andrews, G. The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800-1900. Wisconsin UP. 1980.

Arach, Evelyn. “Los expulsados de la tierra africana.” Rosario/12, 29 December 2008, Accessed 28 January 2019.

Arduino, E. “Reterritorialización de identidades africanas de fe reformada en la Argentina.” Identidades afroasiáticas translocalizadas. Intercambios y resignificación sociocultural. Ed. E. Arduino. Mnemosyne, 2014, pp. 50-65.

Aydin, C. “Africa.” Transnational History from the Mid-19th Century to the Present Day. Eds. A. Iriye and P. Saunier. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, pp. 15-18.

Azevedo, M. Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora. Carolina Academic Press, 2005.

Borucki, A. From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in the Río de la Plata. New Mexico UP, 2015.

Brettell, Caroline and James Hollifield. “ Introduction” Migration Theory: talking across Disciplines.” Eds. Caroline Brettell and James Hollifield. Routledge, 2008, pp 1-29.

Butler, K. “Defining Diaspora, Refining a Discourse.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, 2001, pp. 189-219.

Camino, A. “Africanos en Argentina.” Periodismohumano, 29 March 2010, Accessed 5 September 2017.

Correa, N. “Afroargentinos y caboverdeanos. Las luchas identitarias contra la invisibilidad de la negritud en la Argentina.” MA Thesis, Universidad Nacional de Misiones, 2000.

Dalmazzo, G. and Héctor F. “Los Credos de los Turcos.” Todo es Historia, no. 412, 2001, pp. 18-23. Davies, R. “End of an Era for Argentina’s Afrikaners.” Mail&Guardian, 1 December 2009, Accessed 20 September 2017.

De la Fuente, D. Segundo Censo de la República Argentina 1895. Taller Tipográfico de la Penitenciaria Nacional. 1898.

---. Primer Censo de la República Argentina (1869). Imprenta del Porvenir, 1872.

Diner, Hasia. “History and the Study of Immigration: Narratives of the Particular.” Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines. Eds. Caroline Brettell and James Hollifield. Routledge, 2008, pp. 31-49.

Dirección Nacional del Servicio Estadístico. IV Censo General de la Nación: Población 1947. Ministerio de Asuntos Técnicos, 1955.

Dirección Nacional de Estadística y Censos. Censo nacional de población 1960. Secretaría de Estado de Hacienda, 1963.

Edwards, Erika. (2018), ‘The Making of a White Nation: The Disappearance of the Black Population in Argentina’, History Compass, vol.16, no. 7, 4 July 2018, Accessed 21 January 2019.

Epstein, D. “Los judíos marroquies en Buenos Aires.” Temas de Patrimonio Cultura 2: Buenos Aires Sefardí. Comp. Carlos Szwarcer. Comisión para la Preservación del Patrimonio Cultural de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 2008, pp. 47-66.

Frigerio, A. “De la ‘desaparición’ de los negros a la ‘reaparición’ de los afrodescendientes: Comprendiendo las políticas de las identidades negras, las clasificaciones raciales y de su estudio en Argentina.” Los estudios afroamericanos y africanos en América Latina: herencia, presencia y visiones del otro. Ed. A. Frigerio. CLACSO, CEA-UNC, 2008, pp.117-144.

Frigerio, A and Lamborghini E. “Los Afroargentinos: Formas de comunalización, creación de identidades colectivas y resistencia cultural y política.” Aportes para el desarrollo humano en Argentina. Ed. PNUD. PNUD, 2011, pp. 1-51.

Gabino, Rosario. “¿Hay negros en Argentina?” BBC Mundo, 16 March 2007, Accessed 30 January 2019.

Heb, S. El Intercambio Comercial, Cultural y tecnologico entre Argentina y Túnez. Un desafio par alas relaciones Sur-Sur. Diplomica Verlag GmbH, 2008.

Henao, L. “African immigrants drift toward Latin America.” Reuter, 3 October 2011, Accessed 3 July 2017.

Herrberg, A. (2011), ‘African refugees turn to Latin America over Europe’, DW Deutsche Welle 20 June, Accessed 5 May 2016.

Hines, Barbara. “The Right to Migrate as a Human Right: The Current Argentine Immigration Law.” Cornell International Law Journal, no. 43, 2010, pp. 471-511.

Hooks, b. Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. South End, 1990. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INDEC). Comercio exterior argentino 2013. Centro Estadístico de Servicio, 2014.

---.Censo Nacional de Población, Hogares y Viviendas 2010. Censo del Bicentenario. INDEC, 2012.

---.Censo Nacional de Población Y Viviendas 2001. INDEC, 2004.

Ivancich, N. El estado argentino ante la inmigracion. Ministerio del Interior. Dirección Nacional de Migraciones, 1998.

Lawo-Sukam, A. “Blackness In Argentina: A Quest for Legitimacy.” PALARA: The Afro-Latin American Research Journal, no.19, 2015, pp. 92-118.

Maffia, M. “La migración subsahariana hacia Argentina: Desde los Caboverdianos hasta los nuevos migrantes del siglo XXI.” Aportes para el desarrollo humano en Argentina. Eds. R. Mercado and G.Catterberg. PNUD, 2011, pp. 52-89.

---.“Migration and Identity of Cape Verdeans and their Descendants in Argentina.” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, vol.3, no.2, 2010, pp.169-180.

Marcelino, P. and Cerrutti, M. “Recent African Immigration to South America: The Cases of Argentina and Brazil in the Region Context.” Development, institutional and policy aspects of international migration between Africa, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. Eds. J. Martínez Pizarro and L. Reboiras Finardi. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean ECLAC, 2012, pp. 107-145.

Martínez, Alberto B., Tercer Censo Nacional. Buenos Aires 1914. Talleres Gráficos de L.J Rosso y Cía, 1916.

Monkevicius, P and Maffia M. “Memoria y límites étnicos entre los caboverdeanos de Argentina.” Boletín de Antropología, vol. 24, no. 41, 2010, pp. 115-133.

---.“Memory and ethnic leadership among Afro-descendants and Africans in Argentina.” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, vol.7, no. 2, 2014, pp. 188–198.

Palomar, J. “Caboverdianos: vientos de cambio.” Revista del Diario La Nación, 3 December 2006, Accessed 4 October 2017.

Quiroga, J. “Africa en Buenos Aires.” La Nación, 25 April 2009, Accessed 4 April. 2016.

Reportaje America TV Argentina. “Afroargentinos la nueva inmigración africana en Argentina.” YouTube, uploaded by Nengumbi Sukama, 31 January, 2011, Accessed 16 December 2018.

Zohry, A. “The Place of Egypt in the Regional Migration System as a Receiving Country.” Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales, vol.19, no.3, 2003, p. 1.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN: 2639-1295


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.