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Basque Nationhood

Towards a Democratic Scenario

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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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Julen Zabalo and Txoli Mateos – 9 National Identities in the Basque Country: Present and Future Trends

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← 280 | 281 → JULEN ZABALO AND TXOLI MATEOS

9National Identities in the Basque Country: Present and Future Trends

Few issues have given rise to as much social science literature as the question of identity. My identity defines what matters to me, and defines my moral world, and that is only possible in so far as I belong to a social group, says Charles Taylor (1989). Indeed, a more particularized concept of identity, owing more to difference, has developed in modern society together with ideas about universal and egalitarian dignity. If all human beings merit the same respect, all cultural identities do too, and therefore the aim is to achieve social recognition (Taylor et al. 1992). Many of the fundamental problems affecting modern society, from immigration to democratic participation, gender relations and cultural policies, all stem from or are related to identity (Gutmann 2003; Appiah 2005). Such is the general feeling that the politics of the twenty-first century may well be described as the politics of identity, as opposed to twentieth-century politics, which focused more on social and economic issues (Zapata-Barrero 2008: 13).

One of the most powerful sources of identity is the nation. According to Guibernau (2007: 11) ‘National identity is a collective sentiment based upon the belief of belonging to the same nation and of sharing most of the attributes that make it distinct from the other nations’. Although it is true that a shared identity does not necessarily imply that the ‘other’ is...

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