|The First Fiestas Mayas: Family and Political Authority in Early Independent Buenos Aires (1812-1815)|
|Scholarship on political rituals emphasizes the importance of public celebrations as occasions for cementing communal bonds horizontally and vertically. Public festivities additionally aim at reproducing the proper social order (at least as perceived by those who organize them) and participation in them reveal the boundaries of social and political inclusion (either subordinate or not). In public celebrations subjects and citizens internalize the language and culture of the legitimate authorities and, through their participation, they express (or withdraw) loyalty and allegiance to the established order.
This paper analyzes the first celebrations organized in Buenos Aires to commemorate 25 May 1810, commonly known as Independence Day. It studies not only the symbolic language of the early republican order but also practices that became common during these celebrations, such as the distribution of pensions to widows and dowries to orphan children and the emancipation of slaves. These practices revealed that family order and the language of patriarchy were essential for strengthening the legitimacy of the newly created state and, therefore, the process of reestablishing political authority after independence had a strong gender component.