This introductory chapter begins with the author's account of the origins of the present volume, which can be traced back to her interest in a late nineteenth-century set of concepts, images, and metaphors that grew up around the figure of the modern criminal. It then discusses the population growth in Buenos Aires, which jumped from about 1.5 to 2.5 million in the two decades between the world wars and the corresponding urban expansion. This sets the stage for a description of the book's purpose, namely to explore the many dimensions of porteño life in the early decades of the twentieth century: its vital network of neighborhood associations, its literacy campaigns, its grassroots politics, its many reformist projects, and so forth.
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