Taking Murals Seriously: Basque Murals and Mobilisation

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to take the admonition of taking the visual seriously into the realms of murals. It will present empirical data on contemporary murals in the Basque Country with a view to examining why murals are important to the abertzale-left, the broad left-wing nationalist movement in the Basque Country which includes but ranges far beyond the armed group ETA. The struggle for Basque autonomy from Spain has its roots in a nationalist awakening in the late twentieth century. It has developed through the struggle with fascism; the prolonged authoritarian, centralist state; and the transition to democracy after the death of Franco. Central to this development has been the definition of Basque identity in terms of culture rather than birth. Language has been key, but there has also been a visual strand to the struggle. The article will examine the state of that visual strand currently by examining murals on a range of themes: language and culture, independence and socialism, armed struggle, political prisoners, torture and repression, martyrs and heroes, women and environmental issues.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Ley 4/2008, de 19 de Junio, de Reconocimiento y Reparación a las Víctimas del Terrorismo, Comunidad Autonoma del Pais Vasco, Boletin Oficial del Estado, Num. 212. / Law 4/2008, 19th June, of Recognition and Reparation of Victims of terrorism, Basque Autonomous Community, The Congressional Record, No. 212. 1st Title, Article 4.

  2. 2.

    Ley 29/2011, de 22 de septiembre, de Reconocimiento y Protección Integral a las Víctimas del Terrorismo. Boletin Oficial del Estado Num. 229. / Law 29/2011, 22 September, of Recognition and Integral Protection to the Victims of Terrorism, The Congressional Record, No. 229. 7th Title, 1st Section, Article 61.

  3. 3.

    In October 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found against Spain under articles 5 and 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights over the failure to release a Basque prisoner, Inés del Río Prada (see Del Rio Prada v. Spain no. 42750/09; http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-112108). The decision rested on the fact that, because of subsequent changes in Spanish law, the prisoner had served a longer term of imprisonment than she should have done under the law as it existed at the time of her conviction (see http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/CP_Spain_ENG.pdf).

  4. 4.

    The cases are Affaire Otamendi Egiguren v. Spain, Requete no. 47303/08, Affaire San Argimiro Isasa v. Spain, Requete no. 2507/07; Asunto Beristain Ukar v. Spain, Demanda no. 40351/05; Affaire Etxebarrria Caballero v. Spain (Requête no. 74016/12); Affaire Ataun Rojo v. Spain (Requête no. 3344/13); Affaire Arratibel Garcaindia v. Spain(Requête no. 58488/13).

  5. 5.

    Galindo was released in 2005 and Elgorriaga in 2001, both on health grounds.

  6. 6.

    The creation of cartoonist Naji Salim al-Ali, Handala is perpetually 10 years of age, the age his creator was when he became a refugee.

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Rolston, B., Alvarez Berastegi, A. Taking Murals Seriously: Basque Murals and Mobilisation. Int J Polit Cult Soc 29, 33–56 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-015-9204-4

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Keywords

  • Political murals
  • Basque Country
  • Abertzale-left
  • Social movement
  • Mobilization
  • ETA