Territory and Terror: Conflicting Nationalisms in the Basque Country

Territory and Terror: Conflicting Nationalisms in the Basque Country

Territory and Terror: Conflicting Nationalisms in the Basque Country

Territory and Terror: Conflicting Nationalisms in the Basque Country

Synopsis

All Basque interpretations of national power have resulted in an uneasy mix of often fragmented and conflicting territorial identifications. Basques can identify themselves with France, Spain or an imagined Basque nation state. Territory and Terror confronts the imagined and actual territorial dimensions of nationalism, shedding new light on the Basque conflict. The study provides a rich description of territoriality analysed from a comparative perspective and explores the relation between territoriality and regional differences in conflict intensity. It supplies an account of the oft-overlooked internal struggles between Basques, arguing that overestimation of Basque nationalism as the ideological force behind the conflict often leads to a disregard of the identification of many with France or Spain. In addition, the author investigates the conflicts between Basque nationalists themselves over key issues such as terrorist activity. Territory and Terror will appeal to students and researchers of nationalism and territoriality, in particular to those with an interest in the Basque country.

Excerpt

The impetus for this book comes from my amazement at the persistence of the Basque conflict despite the apparently tranquil conditions of economic prosperity, successful democratization, and state recognition of language diversity. Classical grievances of social deprivation, democratic deficit or linguistic discrimination now seem to be out of touch with reality. Paradoxically, the most troubled of the territories in which Basques live is the Spanish Basque Country, where there is a particularly high standard of living and benign official status for the Basque language. The state of which this territory forms a part has become one of Europe's respected liberal democracies and one of Europe's most decentralized states. Surprisingly, the intensity of the Basque conflict has remained extremely low in France, where Basques live in the economic periphery of a centralized state with their language being marginalized and restricted to the private domain. France would therefore be a perfect breeding ground for mobilizing Basque grievances, whereas in Spain democratic transformation, decentralization and the official promotion of Basque culture ought conversely to reduce the potential for conflict. The state border that cuts across the Basque region is therefore far more than just an administrative demarcation between two countries. Nowadays it has become the divide between conflict and peace, fear and freedom, hate and respect, terrorism and civil society. The divide rightly suggests that the Basque conflict has its own territory. It is, however, one facet of the territoriality of the Basque conflict. This is because territoriality is expressed in state and sub-state powers, political claims and identification. In a territorial sense, Basques can identify with France, Spain or an imagined Basque nation-state.

Most scholarly publications on the Basque conflict are sadly lacking in territorial considerations. To my knowledge the only studies with a territorial perspective are those by Linz (1981), Anderson (1990), Loyer (1997) and Raento (1999). Their studies provide valuable insights into the Basque conflict but focus only on part of the Basque region (Anderson 1990; Raento 1999) or narrow down the conflict to a geopolitical question (Loyer 1997). Furthermore they share a 'State flaw' with most studies conducted by scholars from other disciplines, like social sciences or history. The 'State flaw' concerns a disregard for the substantial identification of many Basques with France or Spain, as a result of an overestimation of Basque nationalism as the ideological force behind the conflict. In this book I will emphasize the

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