337 Cohen Hall
Diego Armus, History Professor, Swarthmore College
Notes for a History of Cigarette Smoking in Modern Buenos Aires
Cigarette smoking, a celebrated practice omnipresent throughout most of the twentieth century that only recently became medicalized, risky, condemned, and regulated, has shaped the lives of millions of people in Buenos Aires and all over the world; pregnant women at home, mall shoppers, airplane passengers, teachers in the classroom, doctors in hospitals, TV news anchors on camera, workers and athletes taking a rest, lovers in bed... The history of smoking I am writing discards a global approach. Instead I am proposing a localized discussion that combines ideas of modernity; structures of national and international corporate capitalism; mass marketing and advertising; anti-smoking public health campaigns; and changes and continuities in elite, middle-class and popular habits. A discussion that aims at weaving together metaphors about smoking, state policies, medical and civil society initiatives, and individual perceptions and experiences. In doing so, I address broad problems -- from sociability and morality to the state's increasing preoccupation with personal behavior and health -- each embedded in the production of a very specific form of modernity in a cosmopolitan city of the Western capitalist periphery. And I want to pursue this research agenda exploring how smokers and non-smokers, medical and public health professionals, the tobacco industry, and the state have dealt over the last century with the modern practice of smoking.