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Basque Nationhood

Towards a Democratic Scenario


Edited By Pedro Ibarra Güell and Åshild Kolås

Debates about Basque self-determination were curtailed for decades by political violence, involving both the actions of ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) and the counter-terrorism activities of Spain and France. In 2011, ETA announced a permanent cessation of operations. Since then, stakeholders have become increasingly aware of the need to rethink Basque nationhood and democratic representation in light of the changing nature of nationhood and citizenship within the European Union. These issues are also topical in the French Basque country, which has witnessed a re-emergence of Basque identity politics in recent years.
This book describes the contemporary re-imagining of Basque nationhood in both Spain and France. Taking a fresh look at the history of Basque nationalist movements, it explores the new debates that have emerged since the demise of non-state militancy. Alongside analysis of local transformations, it also describes the impact of global changes on ideas about Basque self-determination.
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Ane Larrinaga and Mila Amurrio – 3 The Ethno-linguistic Movement and Linguistic Self-determination in Euskara



3The Ethno-linguistic Movement and Linguistic Self-determination in Euskara

The Basque language (Euskara) is a non-Indo-European language spoken in territories situated on both sides of the Pyrenean mountain range, on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. Nowadays, the Basque-speaking community is divided among different state territories and administrative units: the continental Basque country in France, and the Chartered Community of Navarre and Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (ACBC) in Spain. The Basque language does not have a uniform juridical recognition, and its development differs across administrative divides (Totoricagüena and Urrutia 2008). The formation of nation states in France and Spain, and the related policy of ‘one state, one nation, one language’ (Judge 2000), marks the decline of social transmission and beginning of minoritization of the Basque language. This is not unlike what has occurred with other linguistic communities who have lacked the political power necessary for their reproduction under the conditions of modernity. Thus, for centuries, Euskara has been displaced from the formal fields of social reproduction (educational institutions, mass media, high culture, governance and commerce), and consequently also from prestigious social activities. On the contrary, it has been associated with rural and pre-modern modes of life and oral culture.

As is often the case with speakers of minority languages, members of the Basque-speaking community are currently bilingual or multilingual. According to data from the V Sociolinguistic Survey, conducted in all the Basque territories (Eusko...

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