The dilemma of defense in radical Basque nationalism

Authors: Pauliina Raento*, University of Tampere
Topics: Political Geography, Europe, Military Geography
Keywords: nationalism, territory, ethnicity, radicalism, political violence, Europe, Spain
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

“I will defend my father’s house,” wrote Basque nationalist poet Gabriel Aresti in 1963, crystallizing a key idea of Basque nationalism in the context of General Franco’s dictatorship in Spain (1939–1975). Aresti’s poem continues to speak to Basque separatists, even if the state-political and global contexts have changed significantly over the decades. The poem also speaks to students of nationalism, because it helps shed light on the complex relationship between positive and negative sentiments and practices characteristic of ethno-nationalism. I illustrate this complexity with the territorial ideology, spatial practices, and places of radical Basque nationalism during the years of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), armed wing of the Basque separatist movement, from 1959 to the present day. The discussion builds on three central, intimately interdependent spatial keys to Basque nationalism: land, rituals, and icons, and their evolution in relation to state-political and global change. Together the three keys help explain why operative support for armed separatists or their legacy has continued even among those who find political violence unacceptable. The examination addresses the unspoken violence built in positive expressions of nationalism and helps explain changes in practice. The examination also contributes to understanding why “[d]isarmament does not mean peace” between Basque separatists and the Spanish and French states despite the contextual change.

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