Caroline “Olivia” M. Wolf: “Emigrados de lejanas regiones”

Palacio Arabé, Mar del Plata. Built 1945-1949. Photo: Caroline Olivia Wolf, 2016.

Palacio Arabé, Mar del Plata. Built 1945-1949. Photo: Caroline Olivia Wolf, 2016.

“Emigrados de lejanas regiones”: The Art and Architectural Patronage of Arab and Armenian Diaspora Communities in Modern Argentina, 1910-1955

At the turn of the twentieth century, Argentina experienced a wave of mass migration that radically transformed the racial, urban, and architectural environment of the southern cone. While the majority of migrants arrived from Europe, Arab and Armenian immigrants also arrived as early as the 1860s. This religiously diverse group—problematically labeled “turco”— hailed from neighboring Ottoman provinces in the Eastern Mediterranean. My project explores modern public monuments sponsored by these immigrants in modern Argentina as a response to nationalist discourses and a means of self-representation. Via case studies of key monuments sponsored by these communities, I demonstrate how art and architectural patronage served as an agentive tool to rebuild and re-shape rapidly shifting collective identities during politically turbulent decades. The appropriation, re-signification of space, and styles incorporated in the institutions sponsored by these communities constructed a positive public image in a city where their presence was initially marginalized. My project ultimately seeks to contribute to emergent research on minority contributions to modernity, inscribing new transcultural meaning to local, national and global styles.

Caroline “Olivia” Wolf’s research explores issues of immigration and identity via art and architecture in modern Latin America. As a PhD candidate in Art history at Rice University, her dissertation examines the public monuments and architecture of Arab and Armenian communities in modern Argentina (1910-1955) as a response to nationalist debates. She has previously studied Orientalist influences in Peruvian costumbrismo and nationalist architecture in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. She was the 2013-2014 Camfield fellow in the Latin American department of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), and participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities 2014 Jewish Buenos Aires seminar. Wolf received a 2012 Wagoner grant, 2013 SAHARA award, and 2014 Brown Foundation Award. As a recent Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) fellow, she is researching on-site in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the guidance from her host institution, the Historia del Arte Argentino y Latinoamericano graduate program at the Universidad Nacional San Martín—the host institution which is co-directing her dissertation. She received her MA at Indiana University in 2011 and BFA from the University of Notre Dame in 2001.


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