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Identity, Culture, and Politics in the Basque Diaspora

Subject Basques -- Ethnic identity.


For centuries, Basques have been leaving their beloved homeland, first to exploit the fisheries of the North Atlantic, then to participate in the creation and administration of Spain's vast overseas empire. More recently, Basques emigrated to escape crushing poverty, civil war, or the political oppression of the Franco Regime. Unlike many exiles, however, a surprising number of emigre Basques have maintained their ethnic identity, even after five or six generations of residence abroad. "Identity, Culture, and Politics in the Basque Diaspora is political scientist Gloria Totoricaguena's thorough examination of the remarkable endurance of Basque identity and culture in six countries of the far-flung Basque diaspora. Using the results of interviews with over eight hundred informants in the diaspora and in Euskal Herria (the Basque Country), questionnaire results, plus extensive research in archives and printed sources in all six of her study countries, Totoricaguena reveals for the first time the complex universe of these dispersed Basques--the elements of their traditional culture and the institutions that have encouraged identity maintenance, the impacts on established communities of each new wave of immigrants, and the nature of ties with the homeland. She also examines the role of the new autonomous Basque Government of Euskadi in diaspora communities and the effects of double citizenship and voting rights that have been offered to these Basques. Totoricaguena offers a superb study of an aspect of Basque culture hitherto largely ignored by scholars--the diaspora. And in doing so, she enlarges our understanding of cultural identity in general--how it is defined and preserved, how itevolves over time, how both the politics of distant places and the most intimate family habits can shape an individual's sense of self. "Identity, Culture, and Politics in the Basque Diaspora is a major contribution to our knowledge of the Basques and their persistent, treasured cultural traditions.

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