1st Edition

Landscape and Identity in the Modern Basque Country, 1800 to 1936

By Maitane Ostolaza Copyright 2023
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    Landscape and Identity in the Modern Basque Country, 1800 to 1936 studies the relationship between landscape and modern identities in the Basque Country. Using an interdisciplinary approach that combines cultural history and geography, it analyses the process of historical construction of the Basque landscape, highlighting its multiple political, social and cultural meanings.

    The book is divided into two parts: the first examines the discourses, images and representations of the Basque landscape; the second examines landscape practices through tourism, hiking and mountaineering. Focusing on the Basque case but establishing numerous connections with comparable phenomena in Western Europe, the book demonstrates that the landscape became a structuring element insofar as it helped shape individual identities while participating in the creation of social links. This book examines the processes of identity construction "from below" by means of new interpretative tools, such as the experience of landscape.

    This work, originally published in French, brings to an English-speaking audience a crucial issue in the modern history of the Basque Country, namely the cultural construction of a collective identity within the framework of a nation-state, such as Spain, confronted with multiple territorial identities. Approaching this question from the perspective of landscape provides new keys to understanding the processes of nation-building that occurred in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    Acronyms and Abbreviations





    Part One


    CHAPTER 1: Narratives of Landscape

    Romantic Landscapes, Mythical Landscapes

    Landscapes of Fuerismo: Between the Oasis and the Indomitable Mountains

    In Search of a Vernacular Landscape

    From Region to Nation via Landscape

    Regional Landscapes

    National Landscapes


    CHAPTER 2: The Dissemination of Landscape Discourse and Language: The Role of the Press

    The Modern Press and the Dissemination of Landscape Discourse

    Journals and Periodicals: Pioneers in Extolling the Basque Landscape

    The 1920s Press: Landscape as a Means of Nation Building

    The Basque-Language Press and the Popular View of Landscape


    Part Two


    CHAPTER 3: Tourism and Excursions

    Tourism, Identity and Landscape


    Touristic and Recreational Excursions


    CHAPTER 4: Mountaineering, Landscape and Identity

    Discovering the Mountains

    Landscape and Gender: Women Take to the Mountains

    From the Mountains to the Nation: The Mendigoizales






    Maitane Ostolaza is Full Professor at the Faculty of Letters and Humanities at the University of Perpignan (France). A specialist on modern Spain, she has published numerous works on the history of religious education in modern Spain as well as on the cultural construction of the Spanish nation. Her latest research focuses on the symbolic and identity values of landscape. Her previous books are Entre religión y modernidad. Los colegios de las congregaciones religiosas en la construcción de la sociedad guipuzcoana contemporánea (18761931), 2000; Emoción e identidad nacional: Cataluña y el País Vasco en perspectiva comparada, 2015, co-edited with Géraldine Galeote and Maria Llombart Huesca.

    Through the study of the landscape and its practices, mainly sports, Maitane Ostolaza shows us the whole of Basque society, in all its astonishing complexity. This ambitious book undertakes a true history of the environment "from below", where the realms of historicity and geography are intimately linked.

    Stéphane Michonneau, Professor of Contemporary History, University of Lille

    Thanks to her vast knowledge of the scholarly literature and sources, the author beautifully analyses the process of construction of a Basque identity landscape. Her attention to the actors of this process allows her to present with great insight the different landscape grammars that demonstrate the multiple facets of the mountain, the forest and the sea.

    François Walter, Professor of History, University of Geneva

    This original and engaging book is required reading for anyone attempting to understand not only the pivotal role of landscape (the sea, the mountains) in Basque history and identity but also the fascination exerted by Basque places (Biarritz, Gernika, Bilbao, San Sebastian) on travellers, tourists and scholars worldwide, particularly since the Romantic period. 

    Joseba Zulaika, Emeritus Professor, Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno