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Argentinian, Not
A case of positive prejudices

Anthropological and Sociological Bases of Human Behavior Practical Lessons
Juan Antonio Fernndez Manzano 1st Semester

Cynthia Cabaas Gonzlez

Madrid, 17th January, 2012


1. Abstract
This research tries to find a sense to the favoritism that Spaniards have towards
Argentinians as a matter of race (physical appearance), historical links, accent, etc. By
examining this noteworthy fact, the underlying causes of human discrimination towards
non-Argentinian Latin-American immigrants are discussed and exposed. In this
research, a case study research method was used, conducting an in-depth interview. To
collect data, the interview was documented using tape recorders and interview guides,
where field notes were also written down. Finally, after expanding the field notes, a
qualitative analysis of the data was carried out. The interview displays the perspective
of an Argentinian girl, which with her own words seemed to confirm the fact that
Argentinians are, in many cases, better integrated and adapted to the Spanish society
than many immigrants from other South American countries.

2. Research Topic
Social marginalization, abuse and indifference of local society are terms that we can
easily hear linked to the situation of Latin-Americans in Spain. However, they cannot be
applied the same way to the reality of Argentinians living in Spain. The aim of this
research was to understand the reasons why this remarkable fact occurs, initially
unknown and incomprehensible. Why such favoritism towards Argentinians and not
towards Colombians, Peruvians or Ecuadoreans?
One of the reasons may be our recent history links with them: Spain was in need of
help after the Civil War and the only country that helped us was precisely Argentina,
lending us money and supplying us with food and other products. Other reasons may
include their distinctive accent, which, to most of us, makes the language seem almost
a melody; or the fact that in their country they have more opportunities to reach a proper
education than in other South American countries. Maybe that is why Spanish people
consider them better prepared or more intelligent. Perhaps the reason is related to
Caucasian features, as in Argentina more than the 80% of the population is Caucasian,
while in most of the other Latin American countries their features are more of Native
American people.


3. Initial ideas and research
Before interviewing the interviewee, I already knew the country where she was from, so
in order to ask questions that fitted her situation, I did some research about the
Argentinian immigration in Spain. From all I read, what I understood is that Spaniards
treat people coming from Argentina in a different (and better) manner than they treat
those coming from many other countries in South America. In a study carried out by the
University of Castilla-La Mancha and the Autonomous University of Barcelona about
Argentinians living in Spain, they describe that, in contrast to the version that includes
all Latin-American immigrants under the label of "sudaca" (a disdainful tag),
Argentinians are most of the times excluded from this. In Spain, the Argentine accent
seduces, their customs are respected and taken into account, not being the case with
other Latin Americans. The political scientist Casas Mnguez concludes that it is not
valid to include in the same group all people from Latin-America, as each nationality
has its peculiarities.

4. Research Method
For my research, I decided to use an in-depth interview method as it is a technique
designed to elicit a vivid picture of the participants perspective on the research topic. It
is an effective qualitative method for getting people to talk about their personal feelings,
opinions, and experiences. This way, we get to understand how people interpret and
order the world.
The primary advantage of in-depth interviews is that they provide much more detailed
information than what is available through other data collection methods, such as
surveys. You can conduct the interview in the sense you want, whereas in surveys,
questions are already established and impossible to change. People may also feel more
comfortable having a conversation with an interviewer than filling out a survey.
However, there are also limitations in in-depth interviews, such as biased interview
responses or the long time that it takes to conduct an interview and then analyze results.
Another problem might be that sometimes, as in-depth interviews are usually case
studies, the data you get from someone cannot be generalized to other cases.
The process of selecting interviewees was a little hard, as finding someone willing to
help you might not be too common. Many people I asked would not or could not help

me with my research. I finally conducted my interview to an Argentinian girl that is 18
years-old. She is a friend of a friend and kindly agreed to be interviewed. As she is my
age, I thought that establishing rapport with her would be easier than with someone
older. Sessions were carried out the 17
(48 min approximately) and 22
of December
(32 min approximately) in the interviewees house to facilitate the meetings. There was
no need of conducting more than two sessions, as after analyzing the data collected, I
thought I had enough for my research. Even though I did have some idea of how I
wanted to conduct my research, I tried not to lead in any direction the responses of the
interviewee, trying to ask as neutral as possible. To document my interview, I used tape
recordings and field notes that I later expanded.

5. Results of collected data (interview and personal documents)
To have a broader perspective of the research topic, I needed two points of view. First
of all, I used my own perspective as a Spaniard. I notice how immigrants, in general
from Latin America, are treated in Spain and how this treatment is different from that to
Argentinians. Second, to contrast my own perspective I needed the opposite point of
view: do Argentinians think they are treated better? Do they see other immigrants from
other Latin American countries being discriminated while they are not?
After the two sessions I conducted to the Argentinian respondent, named Paloma
Teijeiro Pistarini, I found out that the answers to my questions were affirmative. They
do see there is a difference. I noticed that she considers herself Latin American when
she said They say that South American (Latin) people usually are closer and you can
talk easily to them
. However, when she was asked if she was treated differently
because of being Latin-American, her answer was Yeah, because I was Argentinian
(laughs). I felt like a zoo monkey because they just followed me and asked me questions
and asked me to speak and to say things because they wanted to hear me talk, because
they liked my accent
. From the very first moment she arrived at her new school in
Spain, she was the center of attention because she was the novelty. She was not
marginalized at any moment because of her accent or appearance. An important
observation she raised was the fact that other Latin-American immigrants might be
discriminated not because of being Guatemalan, Peruvian or Colombian but because of

She referred to herself as Latin American when talking about finding new people in Spain to lean on.
Session 1 (17
She noted the differences of treatments when asked about adaptation. Session 1 (17

their characteristic Indian features (Native American features). She commented
something about another girl that was from Colombia but that was equally treated by
everyone else because she had not a Colombian face, you know, she was not like
Indian, she was white, she spoke differently but she was not... I think it plays a role the
fact of being white, caucasic maybe. People see you different if you have a different
. That comment made me think that maybe, though Spaniards consider
Argentinian accent better and more beautiful than other Latin-American accents, the
accent and tone of speaking is not the main reason of favoritism when talking about
immigrants from South America. Maybe it is just that people, in general, like people
that look like them. In a few words, it seems as though, the physical aspect of the person
is taken into better consideration; more than accents, cultures, customs The
interviewee seemed very indignant about this topic, even though, because of being
Argentinian and looking Caucasian, she was not personally affected by that type of
discrimination. She did not have any problems when asked to talk about it and even
ventured to say that she had not seen any Indian-looking people at her school because
big part of the people that go there are from the Partido Popular and they didnt
accept that much.
She considers as well that the history between Argentina and Spain
is also related to our preference for Argentinians Compared to other Latin-American
people Spanish people have an affective feeling for us, because our history
(historical), we are very relationship our countries. You know now Argentinian people
emigrates here, but Spanish people emigrated to Argentina long time ago.

Despite the fact that Paloma agrees that Spaniards treat Argentinians better, adaptation
was not always that easy. She had some problems adapting at first, as for example with
the timing of the meals and difference between the (greater) amount of food eaten in
Spain and the amount she was used to eat in Argentina. As any other immigrant leaving
their home, she felt nostalgic when she talked about the time living there: her family;
her larger house, which had been meticulously chosen; the time when she could
horseback ride whenever she wanted

She stated the important role that race plays still nowadays, when asked how they treated other
Latin-Americans at her school. Session 1 (17
She talked about politicians from the PP (Spanish Popular Party) not being that much tolerant. Session
1 (17
She explained lots of things about the history of her country and how Spaniards immigrated to there.
Session 2 (22

Unlike many immigrants, her parents deliberately chose to leave Argentina, in order for
Paloma to be able to obtain the Spanish citizenship, which otherwise would have been a
lot more difficult to obtain. My father is a Spanish grandson () and he wanted me to
earn the nationality by being his daughter and so if I want to work in Europe or in the
United States, for we, Argentinians need a visa to go to the United States and is more
complicated for us to go there. Its preferable to be a Europe resident. It was planned.

When talking about her father, she seemed to admire him because of what he did for
her: immigrating to a new place so his daughter could have more opportunities in the
At first, she felt that was literally being ripped apart from her friends and family and had
to go to a totally new and strange place for her: I cried the first six months all the night,
it was really hard at first but you just get used to it
. As she is more mature now, she
understands that it is best for her future and now sees it as an opportunity. I think its a
very good opportunity to live new experiences and travel. I do not regret it
From her words, I understand that she is very concerned with her future. She has both
Argentinian and Spanish nationalities and when I asked her if she would ever give up
her Argentinian nationality, she said Never. Then I asked her, in the case of being
forced to, which nationality would she choose taking into account the opportunities that
being European provides. Her answer turned out to be Perhaps in that case I would
think about it, perhaps I should give up my Argentinian nationality.
Paloma does not express clearly a preference for the way of living in Argentina; she
thinks there are better and worse things in each place. For example, she felt that in Spain
I only learn for the exams, after the exams I forget almost completely what I learnt.
Perhaps the way of teaching in Argentina makes you remember better. Its not
something I can explain but perhaps its the way the teacher talked to me. But she also
criticizes Argentinians for being egocentric, selfish and not easy to get involved in
romantic relationships. In that sense, she prefers Spanish men.
When adapting, she adopted some Spanish customs such as the siesta (nap) and eating
churros con chocolate (fried-dough pastry and hot chocolate). But as said before, at
first she felt somewhat lost; as if she was not part of anything. I felt quite different

She explained the main reason of having immigrated to Spain. Session 1 (17
She remembers how hard it was at first when she arrived to Spain. Session 1 (17
She always talks about living experiences and how important that is to her. Session 1 (17

because they made me feel different by all the questions they made and all the attention
they paid to me
. So she was forced to become more adaptable and stopped being so
sensitive. She turned into a chameleon. And that helped her: You can adapt to all the
situations and you are able to deal with things you maybe couldnt if you hadnt had the
experience of changing countries. In my case, I think it was a good thing. Me enriquece
como persona.
Paloma would not want to live now in Argentina because of critical situation that her
country is living now. She seems very sad about the lack of safety and the corruption of
the politicians in Argentina. She goes back to her country every Christmas holidays to
see her family but she ends up saying: When I hear the word home I think about both
Argentina and Spain. I have a home here now and Im happy

6. Conclusions
This is the first research in which I conduct an In-Depth Interview and I have to say I
have learned very much from this experience. As the interviewee said, Experiences are
experiences. You have to live them and then judge.
I had never had the chance to talk
to someone unknown to me for that long and it is not really that difficult if you know
how to establish rapport with that person. I was lucky to find such a talkative and
extrovert person. She seemed to immediately trust me and talked to me about the hard
times, such as when she told me that her parents had gone through a tough economic
period. She even ventured to tell me a joke about Gallegos (the way Argentinians call
Spaniards), which are similar to those we have here about the people from Lepe (a
town in the province of Huelva). As we are the same age, we talked a lot about friends,
school and things that matter to people our age; and not that much about civil rights
regarding immigrants, work and driving permits, social security or all of the
bureaucracy related to immigration.

Palomas perspective has really helped me in my research. As I expected, she also
notices the favoritism Spaniards show towards Argentinians and she even takes

She states that it was not her that felt different for herself but that the others made her feel different.
Session 1 (17
She has adapted well to her new life, maybe better than many other immigrants. Session 2 (22

She talks about living the experience of going to see bullfighting and judge afterwards. Session 1

advantage of it: Nowadays they still like my accent and I use it like an advantage.

Nevertheless, I do not think she approves the discrimination Latin-Americans in general
receive; because as she stated in one of the sessions, she feels Latin-American.
From all of what she has told me, the fact that she lives happily here, that she adapted
well, that she was accepted, that she did not take too long to find a Spanish friend to
lean on, etc In few words, the fact that she can call Spain her home is much related
to my research topic. She had the opportunity to get to be well-adapted to the new
country; an opportunity that many other immigrants do not have because of the negative
prejudices that people from the host country have against them. I really do not think that
people that are racially discriminated, that are ill-treated by xenophobic people, that are
not given the same labor opportunities as everyone else can call Spain their home.
Many of them are just willing to make money and go back home as soon as possible.
And even though this is a case study, I think I can generalize in this sense, when stating
that many Argentinians have the opportunity, not only to work or study in better
conditions, than most Latin-Americans, but that they have the opportunity to feel happy
in Spain whereas many others cannot.

Paloma refers to the effect her accent has on people, they usually like it (especially men). Session 1

7. References
- Tesy de Biase (2009, 28th September), En Espaa prefieren a los argentinos, La
Nacin (Argentina).
- Bogdan and Taylor (1998). Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods: Chapter
4: In-depth Interview. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
- Actis and Esteban (2008, June). Argentinos en Espaa: inmigrantes, a pesar de
todo, Migraciones, n 23.
- The in-depth interview, Prairie Research Associates guide.
- Dienstbier (1970). Positive and negative prejudice: Interactions of prejudice with
race and social desirability, Journal of Personality, vol. 38, pages 198-215.