Building identities through language: the “who we are” based on

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Advanced Research Group of the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University From Empire to Nation: The Making of Modern Nations in the Crisis of the Atlantic Empires (17th-20th Centuries)

Working paper N 4

THE BASQUE CASE (1996-2004)

by Regina Martínez Idarreta

© 2010 Regina Martínez Idarreta. Please do notquote, cite, or reproduce in any form, including electronically, without the permission of the author.

The collective, the we, ourselves in front of others. It is our identity. The collective that we belong to and its features are built day by day by language. It is the self-representation of each political movement, founded on some basic pillars which vary through time, according toexternal politics events. The objectives of this paper are to measure the incidence of these pillars by quantifying and qualifying their permanence and evolution and to observe the change in their significance based on the context in which they are used. The focus is on the way the three main Basque political movements (moderate nationalism, non-nationalism and radical nationalism) are definedthrough editorials from four representative newspapers over the period of 1996-2004.

Content analysis, political communication, nationalism, Basque politics, collective identities, liberalism vs. comunitarism.

Basque politics have been a main information object during the last forty years. The amount of news about the Basque issue is enormous, from ETA attacks to anykind of pact or agreement, press release or information leak that surround Basque political parties. The Basque question has become one of the most complicated problems in modern Spanish democracy, due to the existence of a really well rooted nationalist movement accompanied by a terrorist phenomenon.
The Basque is not a “conflict between Basques and Spaniards”. On the contrary, it is a deeperproblem inside the Basque society itself, related to the way the Basques, nationalist and non nationalist, see themselves (Fusi, 1990; Montero, 2008; De Blas, 2008; Mees, 2003; Mata, 1993…). Furthermore, the conflict exists not only between those who consider themselves Basque nationalists and those who not. Even inside the nationalist movement there are people who are in favour of more radicalpositions while others prefer to embrace more moderate strategies. At the same time, some people think that ETA’s violence is justified because of the “oppression against the Basque Country” by Spain and France (Lorenzo Espinosa, 2002: 18). Other people, although supporters of the Basque independence, are completely oppose to the actions of the terrorist organization.
Not even the so-callednon-nationalists share the same feeling about the question. Of course there is a great sense of unity since all of them are the target of ETA’s violence (Montero, 2008: 35), but the “vasquismo” which some Basque socialist leaders propose has little to do with the positions of the Partido Popular or even with some sections within the Leftist Party.
The different ideologies, thought waves, andsensibilities of the Basque scenery could be divided into thousands of little viewpoints, some interconnected, some others completely separate, creating a chaotic system which is not easy to understand. However, facing a general analysis, we could divide all the nuances and different ideologies which conform the Basque question into three main groups: the non-nationalism , the moderate nationalism and theradical nationalism . Each one of these main ideologies isn’t limited to just one political party. They can include several of them, social movements or even communication media. In fact, this paper is based on the close relationship between the media and these main ideological groups.
This paper -which is part of my doctoral thesis- aims to explore a correlation between the language used...
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