Nicolás Janowski (Argentina)
About the project




The Argentinian Afrodescendant population, which is a product of transatlantic human trade, has played an important role in the national development.

Slave ships brought millions of African citizens who were treated as goods.

Argentina aimed to develop a civilizing country project: a population whitening process with the purpose of improving the “Argentinian race.” Every reference to blackness will be gradually erased from books and census.

1708 - 1709
1712 - 1714




Before that, and specifically after the “80’s generation,” the Argentinian republican conservatism tried by all means to create a country whose inhabitants were mostly white with European origin.

“Everything that is civilized is European.”
J. B. ALBERDI, 1852
“Due to its superiority, European blood has prevailed over the fusion of the three races.”
B. MITRE, 1857
“We won’t ask for democracy more equality than that consented among race difference and social positions. Our sympathy goes towards blue eyes race.”
“It won’t take long until the population is totally unified and constitutes a new and beautiful white race.”
“Negroes have extinguished; mulattos from mild areas are getting whiter.”
“To which sky of drums and long naps have they gone? They were taken away by time, the time, which means oblivion.”
j. l. BORGES, 1965
“There is no discrimination in Argentina, because there are no Negroes. Brazil does have that problem.”
C. MENEM, 1994
“We all descend from Europeans in South America.”
M. MACRI, 2018




Between mid 19th Century and beginning of 20th Century, there were almost twenty newspapers from the Afrodescendant community. Nowadays, only ‘AFROARGENTINO’ remains.

The first newspapers were ‘Raza africana’ and ‘El Proletario,’ both published in 1858. This last one had 8 printed issues. By 1854 ‘La Igualdad’ was edited, and later, in 1873, appeared again. During the 1850s and 1870s, a number of newspapers were founded: ‘El Porvenir,’ ‘El Unionista,’ ‘La Broma,’ ‘El Aspirante,’ ‘La Juventud,’ ‘La Perla,’ ‘El Candombero’ and ‘La Aurora del Plata’ are some of them.




The systematic invisibility and whitening process towards the black community during the 200 years of Argentinian history are based on the opposition of two concepts: civilization and barbarism. According to D. F. Sarmiento, barbarism is related to a primitive universe (negroes, native peoples, gauchos and colonies) which -he believes, should be surpassed by the progress implied in European ideas.

Whitening processes began with the promotion of the historic negation, the statistic invisibility and the white European migration.




DIAFAR (African Diaspora of Argentina, by its acronym in Spanish) is a group of people organized as a non-profit association and composed of the African Diaspora and citizens committed to improve the understanding of the African legacy and presence in the Argentinian context. Afrodescendants and Afroargentinians are activists who belong to the association, and work for it, for over 10 generations. They are direct descendant from slaves who arrived in Buenos Aires port since the colony period.

This project does not aim to visualize the Afroargentinian movement by exposing the otherness as exotic. On the contrary, it tries to ponder upon the white interpretation of blackness by wondering at the privilege of the white look which proposes it. It begins with the historic revisionism of national construction and shows the systematic processes of Afrodescendants assimilation throughout history. Structural racism and de-construction of the un-existence of blackness in the Argentinian context are some basic ideas thought from a context of class, race and gender privilege.

This project is developed in collaboration with DIAFAR.
Concept, images and texts by Nicolas Janowski.

Various authors, Centro de la Imagen
Fondo del Consejo Mexicano de Fotografía
Various authors, Centro de la Imagen

Fondo del Consejo Mexicano de Fotografía

About the project
Nicolás Janowski, Argentina

A project commissioned by Afroamericanos

The historically dominant narrative conceived by the Argentinian nation-state presents the country as predominantly white, with European roots, excluding any reference to Africa in the construction of its identity. Based on the idea of an opposition between civilization and barbarism, colonial mechanisms were designed and continuously reasserted in an attempt to render blackness invisible and systematically suppress its existence over the country’s 200-year history. Even in books and population censuses, any racial reference to blacks or mestizos was gradually and orderly eliminated so as not to “taint” the country’s allegedly uniform composition.

Afroargentina is a work in progress that does not attempt to make Afro-Argentinians visible by exoticizing otherness. It proposes the opposite: to reconsider our black roots by questioning the privileged white gaze that views them as an exotic “other,” based on a historical revision of the nation’s construction, providing a glimpse of systematic processes of the acculturation of blacks throughout history. Concepts like structural racism and the deconstruction of the non-existence of blackness in the Argentine context are some of the arguments examined in the context of privilege based on race-class and gender.

Nicolás Janowski

(b. 1980) Buenos Aires, Argentina

Taking an anthropological approach, Nicolás Janowski deals with a range of Latin American subjects, focusing mainly on Tierra del Fuego, the Amazon region, and Afro-Argentinian communities. Janowski won the Repsol Lima Photo award in 2014 and was a recipient of a grant from the Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales in Argentina in 2012. He was selected to participate in the Noorderlicht International Photography Festival in 2015 and to appear in Burn, the magazine of the Magnum Foundation’s Emerging Photographer Fund in 2012. He has participated as curator and project coordinator of various contemporary Latin American photography events. He is the author of Fin del mundo (Chaco, 2017), a book that recreates the historical imaginary of Tierra del Fuego as the final frontier of civilization. Since 2016 he has belonged to the community of nominators of the 6x6 Global Talent Program of World Press Photo.