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Reclaiming Basque

Language, Nation, and Cultural Activism

Jacqueline Urla

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

In the corner of the western Pyrenees known as the Basque Country, people have disagreed about many things. They have disagreed about the kind of society they want to build, its proper name, its geographic boundaries, about whether it should be socialist or capitalist, whether they want to have independence and what that...

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pp. 1-22

In 1963 a group of idealistic youth who had recently formed the revolutionary group ETA Basqueland and Freedom declared in their magazine Zutik! [Arise!]: “The day that Basque ceases to be a spoken language, the Basque nation will have died and, in a few years, the descendants of today’s Basques will be simply Spanish...

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Chapter One: Language Loyalism’s Early Roots

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pp. 23-48

Advocacy on behalf of the Basque language has a long history that begins well before the Franco era and even before the appearance of a Basque nationalist movement. Recovering that legacy of advocacy and disseminating a fuller understanding of Euskara’s past has been an important part of the contemporary language...

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Chapter Two: Euskara and Basque Nationhood: From Heritage to Practice

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pp. 49-75

One winter afternoon in 1983, a few months into my first year of fieldwork in Usurbil, María, the grandmother of the family with whom I lived, knocked on the door to my room. The restaurant kitchen below had closed and it was quiet, as everyone was still resting after serving the midday meal. Maneuvering her way into my room...

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Chapter Three: Making a Modern Language

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pp. 76-89

Language teachers are the foot soldiers of a language-revival movement. At least this is how the teachers of the Basque-language classes I took in the early eighties saw themselves. At that time, teaching Basque was not just a job, as may be more the case today; it was a way of participating in the recovery of Basque culture...

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Chapter Four: Batua and Euskalki: Refiguring and Reappropriating the Vernacular

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pp. 90-109

Crafted in the ferment of anti-Franco resistance, endorsed by radical nationalist writers as well as erudite linguists like Mitxelena who bore impeccable scholarly credentials, Batua managed to emerge from the controversies that originally surrounded it and elude being pigeonholed as the emblem of any particular political...

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Chapter Five: The Will to Count: Mapping and Measuring Basque

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pp. 110-138

I did not go to the Basque Country thinking my questions about the cultural politics of language would lead me to statistics, but they did—and right away. Newly arrived to Usurbil and not knowing exactly where to begin, I went to the town hall to introduce myself. I got no further than the administrative secretary...

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Chapter Six: Beyond the Classroom: New Tactics for New Times

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pp. 139-168

Language revitalization is, and really has to be, a dynamic and evolving process. In the sixties, the priorities of advocates were to secure official status for Basque, to standardize it for written use, and to spread the teaching of it to the general population. But by the late eighties and nineties, a new set of concerns and priorities was...

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Chapter Seven: The Voice of the Street: Basque in the Free-Radio Soundscape

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pp. 169-201

Revolution announced itself everywhere when I made my first visit to Molotoff Irratia, the free-radio station of Hernani, an industrial town not far from Usurbil. It was 1994. The very name of the station—after the Molotov cocktail—conjured up images of barricades and urban guerilla warfare. The door was never locked. I...

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Epilogue: Language Activism's New Challenges

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pp. 202-224

Working in the tradition of what anthropologists have called “the ethnography of resistance,” I have drawn on the writings of language advocates and my own observations and interviews from multiple episodes of ethnographic research, exploring what social actors in the movement understand themselves to be doing...


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pp. 225-240


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pp. 241-262


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pp. 263-275

E-ISBN-13: 9780874178807
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874178753

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 4 photos, 4 maps, 1 chart
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 808778753
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Reclaiming Basque

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Subject Headings

  • Pays Basque (France) -- Politics and government.
  • Basque language.
  • País Vasco (Spain) -- Politics and government.
  • Basques -- Ethnic identity.
  • Basques -- Politics and government.
  • Basques -- Social life and customs.
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