From Militant Voices to Militant Irony: Examining Identity, Memory and Conflict in the Basque Country


  • Ignacio Brescó de Luna


Collective memory and identity so often go hand in hand with conflicts. Alongside the use of violence, conflicts unfold against the backdrop of different narratives about the past through which groups constantly remind themselves of the supposed origin of the conflict, and consequently, what position individuals are expected to take as members of the group. Narratives – as symbolic tools for interpreting the past and the present, as well as happenings that have yet to occur – simultaneously underpin, and are underpinned by, the position held by each warring faction. Drawing on previous works, this paper compares different versions of the 2016 truce period in the Basque Country stemming from three subjects identified, to varying degrees, with the main political actors involved in that conflict. These three cases have been selected from a total of 16 participants who were asked to define the Basque conflict and to provide an account of the 2006 truce period by using 23 documents taken from different Spanish newspapers. On the one hand, the results show two narratives reproducing the versions of two of the main political actors involved in the conflict, and on the other hand, a narrative characterized by a more personal and ironic appropriation of those versions. Results are discussed vis-à-vis the use of irony in history teaching in increasingly plural societies.