Migration with special reference to Basque Country

From the UK, John Heelan writes: History shows that, since the concentration of work-places resulting from the industrial age, people have always been forced to go where the work is -or starve.  This led to rural depopulation- in at least  the  three countries I know best, the UK- Ireland and Spain- and can be detected in most parts of the modern world.   ChristopherJones asks if "anybody investigated the psychological implications of this on mankind?".   He should be reassured that there is a whole body of scholars world-wide who have, and are constantly, researching the human costs of emigration/immigration/voluntary exile both on local and international bases.  [My particular interest in this matter centres on expatriate Brits in the "little Britain" enclaves on Andalusia's Costa del Sol.]   The United States itself provides ample opportunities for case studies showing how immigrants have built "little Mother Country substitutes" throughout the nation.  I suspect the majority of those immigrants, certainly for the last 50 years, have been economic migrants and not genuine asylum-seekers.
A Basque website posts an interesting article entitled "Inmigración en El País Vasco" suggesting that the immigrant population is about 30,000 from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Maghreb, Eastern Europe and Africa,7000 of whom are illegal.  One should also remember that the growth of the Basque industrial strength could not have happened without previous immigrations from other parts of Spain (which is mainly rural) and elsewhere.   Further, as an expert on Carlism and Euskadi, Christopher must be aware that Basque nationalism was not formally defined until 1890 in Cuatro Glorias Patrias, a work that critics argue was founded on a lie and myths and supporters would call it simply an embellishment. [The Basque History of the World", by Mark Kurlansky (2000)].  Among the critics was Miguel de Unámuno, a Basque himself,  who called Basque nationalism, "exclusivist regionalism blind to all broader visions".

Sabino Arana was somewhat racist in that he demanded that for people to be considered Basque, their four grandparents must all have been born in Euzkadi and have Euskera names.  If married, true Basques must have spouses of similar purity.  Given the level of immigration over the last 100 years- Bilbao alone quintupled to 100,000 people between 1850 and 1900 alone and now has a population of some 500,000- the number of "true Basques" on the Arana model must be fairly small.   So one wonders which "European history and culture" are they  "at the forefront of the battle to save"?

RH: The Kurlansky book is a contribution to our "Learning history" project. The Basque racial requirements are 
similar to those of Nazism.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 11, 2004