500 Zenbakia 2009-09-18 / 2009-09-25


Basque diaspora: immediate future



William Douglass Antropologist

Over the next several years, I would anticipate considerable change in the scholarly investigation of the various Basque diasporas around the globe. I expect ever more refined historical research regarding the “old” diasporas (those of several Latin American countries, the United States, the Philippines and Australia) as a function of the cumulative growth of Basque diasporic studies in general. Whereas a few years ago there were but a handful of investigators interested in this subject area, today they would number in the dozens, if not hundreds, and each is broadening our understanding. Given the expanding data base, I would also expect future work to address ever more sophisticated theoretical issues, particularly in the currently fashionable area within the social sciences of identity studies (both of individuals and collectivities).

I further anticipate new areas of interest reflective of the changing nature of the Basque diasporic experience. Given Spain’s entry into the European Union, with the corresponding reduction in restrictions upon residential and employment choices of the EU citizenry, we can now observe several nascent Basque diasporas in places such as London, Milan and Copenhagen. Correspondingly, there have been notable shifts in the attraction and accessibility of many of the traditional destinations of Basque emigrants. This means that, it is precisely in the so-called “Old World” of the European continent that we can witness and study the actual formation of new diasporas, whereas it is in the several “New Worlds” that we can contemplate the process of the ageing and persistence (or not) of the earlier manifestations of Basque diasporic experience and sentiment. And then, of course, there is that new virtual geography of cyberspace that removes most barriers to the activation of Basque identity while individualizing its expression and consumption. It is not farfetched to imagine as one possible outcome a future world in which the several Basque diasporas along with the Basque homeland are conflated into a larger virtual Basque reality without frontiers. But then, of course, that is but one of many possible outcomes that future Basque scholarship will have to contemplate, monitor, and analyze.