The Basques, the Catalans and Spain. Alternative Routes to Nationalist Mobilisation

Praise for The Basques, the Catalans and Spain: ‘Conversi has skillfully woven together three major themes of modern nationalism: the importance of values and culture, the role of the state, and the sources of political violence. He does this through a masterly study of the differences between an inclusive Catalan, and an exclusive Basque, nationalism. This is an analysis steeped in historical understanding, rich in sociological insight, and sensitive to political nuance. It is essential reading for all students of nationalism and politics, as well as for anyone interested in modern European developments.’
Anthony D. Smith, Professor of Studies in Nationalism, LSE

‘This work represents a singular contribution to the literature on nationalism.
The author brings a thorough familiarity with the theoretic and comparative literature to bear upon the Basque and Catalan experiences. The result is mutual enrichment: (i) keener insight into Basque and Catalan nationalisms than can be gleaned from the case study approach of these two peoples and (ii) the highlighting of a number of significant challenges that the Basque and Catalan experiences pose to broadly held convictions concerning the nature of national consciousness and the behaviour patterns to which it gives rise. Anyone interested in nationalism will benefit from reading Conversi’
Walker Connor, Professor of Political Science, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

‘Dr Conversi’s comprehensive study of the chief ethnic nationalism within modern Spain – those of Catalonia and the Basque Country – will soon be recognised as one of the best assessments available of the intricate world of Iberian identities. The fact that both areas are prosperous, competitive and highly dynamic by any West European standards makes them especially interesting. Daniele Conversi’s is the best analysis so far available in English. The rigour and scholarship with which he has carried out his research turn The Basques, the Catalans and Spain into a key contribution to our understanding of nationalist and ethnic movements in stateless societies in contemporary Europe.
Students of Spanish society and culture will also find it useful and enlightening, as it satisfactorily explores the political, economic and cultural consequences of Catalan and Basque nationalism.’
Salvador GinerInstitut d’ Estudis Catalans (Director), Institut d’ Estudis Socials Avançats, Barcelona‘The best and most persuasive comparative study of Basque and Catalan nationalism which we have either in Spanish or English’.
Professor Stanley G. Payne, Modern European History, University of Wisconsin- Madison (from ‘Social History Society‘, Spring 1998, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 74-5)

‘This outstanding comparative study not only is one of the most comprehensive studies on Basque and Catalan nationalism, but is also a fine piece of theoretical reflection on the nature of political mobilization in subnational distinctive cultural identities. For this reason, it deserves to have a place in any library covering Spanish politics’
José E. Magone, University of Hull (from Regional and Federal Studies, vol. 8, n. 2, Summer 1998)

‘Based on extensive use of primary and secondary sources, this study will be particularly valuable to students of modern Spanish history as well as to historians and political scientists reasonably well versed in sociological approaches to their respective disciplines’
S.H. Burkholder, University of Missouri (from ‘Choice‘, May 1998, vol. 35, no. 9)

‘Conversi presents a wealth of fresh material on the [Catalan] region’s culture, and makes a convincing case for its central importance to nationalism there. Precisely because of the lack of cultural material, the sections on the Basque Country are solid but less illuminating, serving ultimately to suggest the importance of economic and political factors. … [T]his is a thought provoking book, of value not just to Iberian specialists but to students of nationalism in general’
Chris Ross, Herriot-Watt University, ‘Political Studies‘, 1999

‘Conversi’s mastery of the literature on both these ‘ethno-nationalist’ movements and the skillful way in which he compares and contrasts them is impressive. In five highly informative chapters he succinctly accounts for the historical development of cultural and political nationalism in both these cases. Three chapters analyse specific aspects — the role of language, the significance of immigration and the roots of violence. His contribution will surely stimulate thought among those interested in nationalism generally and provoke debate among specialists. …..He does show that language is undoubtedly at the centre of Catalan nationalism as far as the general population is concerned, but it does not follow from this that it can be credited with the role of inhibiting violence there……Surprisingly, Conversi does not refer to ‘pactism’ as such, and tends to discount such features in favours of his hobby horse, language as a core value’.
John Hargreaves, Emeritus, University of Brighton (from ‘Nations and Nationalism‘, 1998)

John Agnew’s (UCLA University of California, Los Angeles) review article was published as ‘Geographies of nationalist mobilisation‘, in Geopolitics (vol. 4, no. 3,  December 1999, pp. 189 – 193)

Sir Raymond Carr’s review was published as  ‘Inventing Euzkadi‘ in the The Times Literary Supplement(October 31, 1997, no. 4935, pp. 12-13) .Other reviews have appeared in:David George,National Identities, vol 1, n. 1, pp. 89-90

Edward Moxon-Browne,  ‘Why terrorism?’, Government & Opposition, Spring 1999, Vol. 34, Issue 2, pp. 280-2

Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh, American Political Science Review, 207, Vol. 94, March 2000, pp. 207-208

Andree Lecours, Nationalism & Ethnic Politics, vol. 5, n 1, pp. 157-8

The book has also been reviewed in: Contemporary Politics (John Naylon, Keele University), Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies (Angel Smith, Leeds University), Catalan Review, (Charles King, Georgetown University), South European Society & Politics (Kenneth N. Medhurst), Ethnos-Nation (Universität zu Köln), Political Geography, Ethnic & Racial Studies, Ethnic Studies Review, Journal of Southern Europe & the Balkans, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, El Contemporani (Graham Pollock).

Read Alex Leff’s interview : ‘Basques, Catalans and the Spanish divide‘, Catalonia Today, Thursday, March 24, 2005, p. 42

  See some Reviews in other languages (Italian, Hungarian, Catalan, Spanish). Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. From the Founding of Catalan Nationalism to the Civil War
  3. Basque Nationalism from its Beginnings to the Civil War
  4. Euskadi: Dictatorship, Resistance and Resurrection
  5. Catalonia under Franco
  6. The Transition to Democracy: From Clandestine Action to the European Community (1975-1986)
  7. Language and Other Values
  8. Nationalism and Immigration in Catalonia and the Basque Country
  9. The Roots of Violence
  10. Conclusion

xvi, 308 pp., bibliography, index,  ISBN: 185065-2686How to contact the author by e-mail: write full last name (conversi) followed by <[at]>Abstract

Daniele Conversi provides a pleasantly argued and refreshing look at Spain’s modern history, focusing on the rise of peripheral nationalism. By contrasting the history of Catalan and Basque nationalism,  the book explains why political violence and peaceful mobilization have developed amongst two distinctive movements operating within the same polity and during the same time span.

Why did an initially peaceful opposition movement turned into ETA, one of the most violent and well-organized terrorist groups in postwar continental Europe? Terrorism studies, security studies and peace studies analysts will find here a set of valuable information and comparative data, which could eventually be generalized to the study of other ethnic conflicts and violent movements across the world, including global terrorism.

On the other hand, Conversi shows that culture and cultural revival can work as active peace-inspiring and bridge-building strategies to diminish the gap between potentially conflictual communities. Culture and cultural revival can integrate citizens into unifying projects and under the overarching umbrella of civic-cultural nationalism.

In chapter 8, a pioneering study on the relationship between  ‘immigration and nationalism’ sheds further light into the broader comparison between violent and non-violent nationalisms.   A wealth of scholarly footnotes does not distract the reader from the flow of the broader narrative.

 Catalan translation:Daniele ConversiEls bascos, els catalans i Espanya . Entre la modernitat i la violència.Lleida: Pagès Editors,2004

 C. Hurst & Co.Publishers Ltd.,
Michael J. Dwyer (Director)
41 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3PL
Phone: +44 207 255 2201
ISBN: 185065-2686 Textbook Binding – 338 pages (September 2000)
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