Worlds in Conflict: Indigenous Peoples, Environmental Challenges, and the 'Conquista del Desierto' in the Making of Argentina, 1870-1900


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Between 1879 and 1885, the national government of Argentina waged a war known as the campaña al desierto, or Desert Campaign, against the indigenous population of its southern frontier. This war resulted in the death of thousands of civilians and the forced relocation of thousands more. “Worlds in Conflict” tells the story of the indigenous people who lived and died during these years as they experienced the fall of their autonomous confederacies and adapted their traditions to new circumstances. The project highlights the case studies of the Catriel lineage, as well as a group of indigenous people forcibly relocated to labor on sugar plantations in Tucumán and a population of indigenous people in central Buenos Aires province who chose cultural assimilation rather than face relocation. Their stories demonstrate how environmental relationships, particularly including infectious diseases, were a central component of the dispossession of indigenous people in Argentina.