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Expressing Identities in the Basque Arena

Expressing Identities in the Basque Arena

Jeremy MacClancy
Wendy James
N.J. Allen
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Expressing Identities in the Basque Arena
    Book Description:

    Everyday nationalism, the human and cultural aspects of identity, is a neglected subject in the literature on nationalism in Europe. Jeremy MacClancy redresses the balance in this unusual and sharp book on the human and cultural aspects of the idea of being Basque in the modern world. The style is fresh and colloquial, dealing with several of the kinds of issues that usually appear in popular magazines - cuisine, football, art and graffiti - but the treatment is serious and illustrative of underlying currents in social life. MacClancy argues that the ethnographic understanding of nationalisms, rather than the orthodox studies of ideology, political parties, social classes and centre-periphery clashes - offers a more nuanced comprehension of the lived reality of people in areas where nationalism is a significant force. This is very much nationalism from the bottom up. JEREMY MACCLANCY is Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. Series editors: Wendy James & Nick Allen

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-211-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Note on Terminology
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. List of Acronyms & Glossary
    (pp. xi-xi)
  7. MAP
    (pp. xii-xii)
  8. 1 Of Important General Matters
    (pp. 1-25)

    My father was Irish. In 1946 he accompanied his eldest brother on his first trip over to Britain. On landing at Liverpool, they went to the toilets. While both were standing at the urinals, my uncle looked at the porcelain, then at my father. ‘No Shanks here John’, he said, smiling.

    Over the decades my father told me this anecdote several times. It amused him so much because, I think, it demonstrated in a familial, deeply unpretentious way the nature of national difference. In postwar Britain, my uncle had learnt, even something as everyday as urinals were made by different...

  9. 2 At Play with Identity
    (pp. 26-43)

    Identity is a catch-all term of our times. It is an empty vessel which can be filled with almost any content. As a quick perusal of recent volumes on European communities shows, astute anthropologists can use identity as a general framing device for a surprising variety of ethnographic data. In these books discussion can span from the individual to the regional to the supranational, from styles of dress or dance to religious faith. The range of possible topics seems to be limited only by the imaginative power of the compiler. The worry, of course, is that we anthropologists may well...

  10. 3 Football
    (pp. 44-67)

    Johan Huizinga was right: play is central to life. In his seminal and much-praised Homo Ludens, first published in 1938, Huizinga argued that play had an essential role in the development of civilization. To understand humanity in any rounded sense, it had to be taken into account. And of course, one key latter-day manifestation of play was the rise of organized sports from the nineteenth century on.¹ It is thus surprising that until relatively recently mass sport was not thought an appropriate topic of research for serious social scientists. The attitude seemed to be that nothing so enjoyable could be...

  11. 4 Feeding Nationalism
    (pp. 68-87)

    Difficult to think of something more central to our lives than food. For we digest symbols and myths as much as fats, proteins and carbohydrates. At one and the same time food is both nutrition and a mode of thought. It enables us biologically, and structures our life socially. As both fuel for our bodies and ideas for our minds, food is common to every single one of us.

    Given this, it is all the more surprising that a recognizable ‘food studies’ did not arise within academia until the closing decade of the last century. Economists and geographers might have...

  12. 5 Biology
    (pp. 88-126)

    It’s very simple. We are social beings. We are also animals. Problems begin when we try to tie those two statements together. The knot becomes tighter when nationalism is involved. Indeed it tends towards the Gordian when there appears to be a well-grounded biological basis to a certain ethnic identity, and questions of ‘race’ and thus of course accusations of ‘racism’, start to raise their head. The Basques are such a case. In this chapter, rather than lunge for a sword, metaphorical or otherwise, I wish to untie this particular knot piece by piece, and to assess the evidence as...

  13. 6 Art
    (pp. 127-150)

    Anthropologists of art have a problem: how to define the central term of their sub-discipline? Their quandary is how to compare something across cultures without the particular definition chosen predetermining the answers arrived at. If they choose too restrictive a definition they exclude a host of potential objects of study and end up producing generalizations which are neither novel nor representative of human endeavour. If they choose a very open definition they run the risk of including such a broad range of different types of objects that meaningful comparison is turned into a near impossible ideal. This difficulty of choosing...

  14. 7 Political Graffiti A Photo Essay
    (pp. 151-161)

    Travel writers emphasize the Basque Country’s rural beauty, traditions, architecture, language and liveliness. They revel in the picturesque, the quaint and the distinctive. They like to dwell on the age of buildings, the narrowness of city streets and the general contours of townscapes. Yet almost none of the more contemporary visitors among this loose group makes any reference to a ubiquitous, modern, visually very striking feature of the landscape: political graffiti.

    The sole exception is Robert Elms, a young British writer. Visiting Bilbao in 1990, he found

    The perpetual graffiti forms a street language of its own baffling complexity. The...

  15. 8 Art Museum
    (pp. 162-189)

    In October 1997 the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao opened in Bilbao to a blaze of fireworks and publicity. The fireworks died down but the publicity has persisted and, from its very first day, visitors have continued to pour in, in unforeseen numbers. Almost on its own, the Museo has radically changed the image of the city, modified the regional economy, and opened up important debates about Basque identity and the place of art within it. These debates show no signs of dying down. The local effects of the Museo have been so wide-ranging and, to a great extent, so unexpected that...

  16. No End
    (pp. 190-192)

    Our partial survey done we can ask, to what effect? What light can a fieldwork-grounded anthropology shed on contemporary nationalisms?

    The first point should have been repeatedly demonstrated to all those who have read the text, rather than skipped straight to this endnote, i.e. that we impoverish our understanding of nationalism if we are not prepared to study its lived reality. If one definition of anthropology is to take people seriously, then it behoves us to listen to what locals are saying and to attend to what they are doing. After all, the much-vaunted strength of social anthropology is to...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-208)
  18. Index
    (pp. 209-212)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)