Skip to main content

Article Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

Historians from University of the Basque Country prepare book on process of nationalisation, together with Galicians, Castilians and Catalans

A project by the National Identity Research Group of the Valentín de Foronda Institute.

“Institutes fulfil a role that departments within the University do not”, stated Mr José María Ortiz de Orruño, Director of the Valentín de Foronda Institute of Social History which was created at the Araba campus of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in 1995. Research is one of the fundamental pillars of this parallel role. Some twenty members of the Institute form part of the Research Group on National Identity, which is led by the Professor of Contemporary History at the UPV/EHU, Luis Castells. It is the most important activity of the Institute. The theme of national identity does not involve exclusively the Basque Country, and this research group has two lines of collaboration and cooperation. “One downwards, as it were, with other research teams in Spain working on similar topics and the other, upwards”, stated Mr Ortiz de Orruño. Within the first, a book on the process of nationalisation, the result of a meeting last autumn in Salamanca between Galicians, Catalans and Castilians researchers, is about to be published. “Each team, using commonly agreed directives, undertook research on how the process of nationalisation in each of their different territories has developed”. In fact, one of the most recent publications of the Institute is related to the topic. The book in question is entitled (Serving the fatherland: military service in the Basque provinces, 1877-1931), and was published last year by Institute member Mr Félix Luengo. It deals with the reaction of the Basques to (Spanish) military service, which was not compulsory until after the derogation of the Fueros (historic rights of the Basque provinces). As regards the second line of joint working —the exterior—, the National Identities Group member, Mr Ander Delgado, is currently in Wales on coordinating an international seminary. “The idea is to organise an academic meeting in order to revise and analyse certain particular cases: Welsh, Flemish, the Basque case, and so on”, explained the Director. Moreover contacts have been made or continue to be made with a number of universities in Paris, Leeds and Tel Aviv. The Institute shows great interest in creating a university network: “The idea is to create work groups on common topics”. The research tasks go beyond the National Identity Research Group of the Valentín de Foronda Institute. As Mr Ortiz de Orruño reminds us, it is a mixed body involving, apart from the UPV/EHU, the City Council of the Basque Country administrative capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz and its corresponding Provincial Government of Araba. Its public role of historical research is quite clear, therefore: “One of the commitments we have with the City Council and the Provincial Government is the provision of technical consultancy in those areas where we have something to say”. As an example of this, he pointed to the report of a historical, economic and cultural nature on the relations of Araba with the enclave of Treviño, commissioned by the Araba Provincial Government. Another, and commissioned by the Basque Government and Parliament, analysed the events of the 3rd of March of 1976 in Vitoria-Gasteiz (when five workers were killed following a labour dispute), because of a collection of claims presented by victims and family members of victims of those events. Amongst the current tasks in this respect, Mr Ortiz de Orruño highlighted the fact that they are about to complete a “very important” project, financed by the Araba Provincial Government, on the victims of the reprisals against people from this Basque province by Francoist forces during and after the Civil War. The project involves a data base with the names of these victims. Apart from the research, the dissemination of information undertaken by the Valentín de Foronda Institute of Social History should be pointed out. Testimony to this is the fact that there are more than 60 books already published. Some of these have had great impact, such as (Basque Autonomy in contemporary Spain - 1808-2008); published in 2009 under the editorship of the previously mentioned Luis Castells. The importance of the annual symposium of the Institute on this dissemination work is manifest — a symposium that has been held every July since the foundation of the body. This year —the 16th year— is being held on the 1st and 2nd of July under the title, . Apart from the symposium, there are many other activities, such as the course on history and cinema, or international current affairs. Moreover, thanks to the latter, the Institute was chosen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organise, in 2011, one of the two annual courses (the other is undertaken by the Diplomatic Corps School) in which short-term international observers for elections are accredited.