Big Water

Big Water

Big Water is a book I edited with Jacob Blanc and published through University of Arizona Press in 2018. It is a book that focus on a overlooked Latin-American borderland, the Triple Frontier area between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

From the press:

“Big Water explores four centuries of the overlapping histories of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay (the Triple Frontier), and the colonies that preceded them. Examining an important area that includes some of the first national parks established in Latin America and one of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, this transnational approach illustrates how three nation-states have interacted over time.

From the Jesuit reductions in the seventeenth century to the flows of capital and goods accelerated by contemporary trade agreements, the Triple Frontier region has proven fundamental to the development of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay as well as to the Southern Cone and South America itself. Although historians from each of these three countries have tended to construct narratives that stop at their respective borders, the contributors call for a reinterpretation that goes beyond the material and conceptual boundaries of the Triple Frontier. In offering a transnational approach, Big Water helps transcend nation-centered blind spots and approach new understanding of how space and society have developed throughout Latin America.

The essays achieve the goals of complicating traditional frontier histories and also balancing the excessive weight previously given to empires, nations, and territorial expansion. Overcoming stagnant comparisons between national cases, the research explores regional identity beyond border and geopolitical divides. In so doing, Big Water focuses on the uniquely overlapping character of the Triple Frontier and emphasizes a perspective usually left at the periphery of national histories.”

Table of Contents


Foreword – Zephyr Frank

Introduction – Jacob Blanc, Frederico Freitas


1. Embodied Borderland: Colonial Guairá, 1570s to 1630s – Shawn Michael Austin

2. Jesuit Missions and the Guarani Ethnogenesis: Political Interactions, Indigenous Actors, and Regional Networks on the Southern Frontier of the Iberian Empires – Guillermo Wilde


3. Crossing borders: Immigration, transformation of landscapes in Misiones-Argentina and Southern Brazil – Eunice Nodari

4. Argentinizing the Border: Conservation and Colonization in the Iguazú National Park, 1890s-1950s – Frederico Freitas


5. A Devilish Prank, a Dodgy Caudillo, and the Tortured Production of Postcolonial Sovereignty in the Borderlands of López-era Paraguay – Michael Kenneth Huner

6. Beyond Historia Pátria: The Jesuit-Guaraní Missions, World Heritage, and Other Histories of Cultural Patrimony in Mercosul/Merocsur – Daryle Williams

7. Walking on the Bad Land: the Guarani Indians in the Triple Frontier – Evaldo Mendes da Silva


8. A Turbulent Border: Geopolitics and the Hydroelectric Development of the Paraná River – Jacob Blanc

9. From Porteño to Pontero: The Shifting of Paraguayan Geography and Identity in Asunción in the Early Years of the Stroessner Regime – Bridget María Chesterton

10. Mercosur and Ciudad del Este’s Merchants: the Scale and Scope of integration – Christine Folch

Conclusion – Graciela Silvestri


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