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 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY (oxfordre.com/latinamericanhistory). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 13 December 2018

Summary and Keywords

During the Cold War, there were thousands of Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) sightings in Argentina (in Spanish, Objeto volador no identificado or OVNI). The mainstream media reported on many of them. In a field termed ufología, some events were explained scientifically or somewhat scientifically; most were not. These sightings and their stories lived on in a culture of thousands of OVNI aficionados and their literatures, frequently spilling into larger popular cultures.

OVNI culture disrupts chronologies. It offers a picture of Cold War Argentina that breaks with longstanding popular and academic chronologies that stress a dictatorship-versus-democracy binary. That binary is real. However, OVNI culture superimposes an often-neglected Cold War chronology on the mid- to late 20th century. OVNI stories and their cultural consumption evolve and vary not with reference to violent Argentine political and historical change, but in the context of a larger transnational Cold War culture in an Argentine context. Hallmarks of OVNI culture in Argentina include the enormous influence of U.S. popular culture, as well as references to apocalyptic nuclear weapons, and unscientific notions of psychoses in explaining late-night sightings of spacecraft and extraterrestrials.

Keywords: Unidentified Flying Object (UFO), Objeto volador no identificado (OVNI), ufología, Cold War, science fiction, flying saucer, armed forces, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, film, psychology

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