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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Political Mobilization and Cultural Shift: The Construction of the Common in the Basque Country

Social Movements
Arkaitz Letamendia
University of the Basque Country
Arkaitz Letamendia
University of the Basque Country
Ion Andoni del Amo Castro
University of the Basque Country
Jason Diaux
University of the Basque Country

The Basque social space is constituted from the end of the nineteenth century by different historical narratives that articulate the national subject from diverse positions. Nation state normative narratives -Spanish and French- show a deficit of legitimacy, to the point of giving rise to cultural and political Basque counter-structures. These counter-structures assume spheres that correspond to the State, elaborating a mimetic counter-identification with respect to it – and whose emblematic expression would be the ETA armed organization. To this is added a Basque historical contradiction: a strong economic development - and with it an earlier entrance to modernity with all its contradictions, along with a weak State institutional political construction. In this context emerge popular movements in defense of Basque culture that are linked with grassroots political and social movements, and vice versa.
In recent years this complex scenario has undergone important changes, among which is the abandonment of armed struggle by ETA as well as cultural transformations from the base. This paper analyzes these recent changes combining two perspectives. On the one hand, we study the evolution of the forms of protest, which pivot from direct confrontation towards more symbolic repertoires of action, with a greater weight of aesthetic and the visual elements in the mobilizations. On the other hand we analyze the changes in the cultural field, regarding to a shift from the construction of distinctive spaces of community – the Basque politicized differentiated identity- towards more universal spaces of activity and leisure. Thus, nowadays there is a construction of shared references both in the forms of political mobilization and in the realm of culture, in which the common is prioritized over the distinctive identity.
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