Things a Peña Does
Everyday Forms of Nationbuilding
For its entire history Argentina has been dominated demographically and economically by Buenos Aires. Poverty and relative inequalities in the hinterland have helped drive a massive internal migration to the city. A great portion of the resulting population of Buenos Aires consists of provincial Argentines who find interesting and innovative ways to negotiate urban life. This essay explores some ways that Argentine migrants use folk music parties, known as peñas, to create opportunities in the city. Importantly, many migrant accounts highlight the importance of folk music as Argentine, thus unifying folk music with other cultural representations of the nation. First person accounts show how migrants use this “entrepreneurial popular nationalism” in peñas to create their own entertainment, social networking and economic benefits. The paper presents a case for the peña, an innovative birthplace of nationalism, as a resource for a largely marginalized group.