Yerba Mate, Ethnicity, and Erasure in Paraguay and Argentina

By Will Moustakakis

Can consuming a certain beverage be patriotic? Would it be unpatriotic to consume the same beverage sold by a foreign producer? In this exhibit, I examine these questions and more as I showcase and analyze the ways in which Paraguayan and Argentine yerba mate advertisements targeted at Argentine consumers in the 1930s differed from one another, pitting Paraguayan quality against Argentine national and cultural identity. This commercial battleground echoed the complicated relationship between Paraguay and Argentina, as well as the complex Argentine issues of ethnicity, nationality, class, and the erasure of indigenous cultures in a time when Argentine yerba mate production was ramping up (Folch, 16). In the context of these issues, Paraguayan yerba mate brands' advertisements of the 1930s marketed to Argentine consumers with class imagery and quality guarantees, while specifically excluding other significant wording and imagery linking the product to Paraguay or its Guaraní heritage, conforming to be viable in the Argentine market while also presenting a stark contrast to Argentine yerba mate brands' consistent use of national imagery and wording in their own advertising.

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