Eva Perón in the Twenty-First Century: The Power of the Image in Argentina

By Kristina Nasi.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study examines the changing role of Eva Perón in Argentina from her rise to fame in the 1940s to her most recent treatment in Argentina by current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during the Bicentennial celebrations in 2010. Eva Perón’s image has been manufactured and reproduced since her entrée into the world of the theatre and radio in Buenos Aires in the late 1930s. Affectionately known as “Evita” by Perón’s supporters, her iconographic treatment as first lady involved the constant profusion of photos with Eva and her descamisados [shirtless poor]. This, along with Peronist propaganda that forwarded an idea of the Peróns as the mother and father of the nation, proved highly effective and Eva became an emblem of Argentina’s youth, wealth and growing international importance. However, this attention inspired a backlash from anti-Peronists who forwarded myriad myths about her. Upon her death at the age of 33, Eva earned a cult-like following and her husband and supporters forwarded images of her as the Virgin Mary and martyr for the Peronist cause. On March 6, 2010, Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner opened The Argentine Bicentenary Hall of Women and named Eva Perón as the Woman of the Bicentennial. Unlike the reductive portrayals during her life and after her death, Eva’s twenty-first century image has converged and she has returned as the loyal wife and social crusader. Fernández de Kirchner, who has drawn parallels to the former first lady throughout her political career, aggressively utilized Eva’s image when her popularity began to fall in the year leading up to her re-election in October, 2011. Fernández de Kirchner embraced Eva as a populist icon and the profusion of visual tributes to Perón demonstrated her importance and the overall power of physical appearance for women in power in Argentina.

Keywords: Eva Perón, Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Image of Women in Argentina, Women in Politics, Populism in Argentina, Woman as Commodity

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.99-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 738.887KB).

Kristina Nasi

Master's Candidate, Department of Modern Languages, The University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA

My graduate work at the University of Colorado at Denver has focused on Latin American Studies and Women’s Studies. My Master’s Thesis looks at the changing role of Eva Perón in Argentina from her rise to notoriety in the 1940’s to her most recent manifestations in Argentina during the Bicentennial celebrations in 2010. The research I have done on Eva Perón has lead me to investigate further the role of women in Argentine political culture as well as the importance of physical appearance for women in power. Ongoing analysis includes a more detailed look at the representation of women in positions of political power in Latin America and in North America and the consequences of common feminine archetypes used to characterize women in those positions.