Pedro J. Oiarzabal
Reno, United States of America.
Basque Ethno-diasporas and Trasnational Spaces in the Nineteenth-Century America
“Life is a continuous becoming. With each passing day, different from the others, one must recreate what disappeared the day before; but migration requires a person to recreate the basic things he [sic] thought were already settled; he [sic] must recreate another work environment, establish affective relations with other people, reform a circle of friends, set up a new house that will not be an overnight tent but a home, and so on. These activities demand great physic effort, sacrifice, and acceptance of many changes in a short time. But to able to carry them out gives one a sense of inner strength, an ability to dream, a capacity to build, a capacity for love.”
(Grinberg & Grinberg, 1989: 176)
Contemporary Basque identities are being reformulated in a globalized, transnational, and diasporic context, emphasizing their distinctive content. Today, hundreds of thousands of Basques with an institutionalized presence in twenty three countries share a collective, generic, or overarching identity worldwide. They are engaged in patterns of behavior and practices that theorists such as Totoricagüena (2000; 2003a; 2004) describe as ‘transnational’ and ‘diasporic’. This is also true not only for contemporary Basques but for those of past eras. However, with clear exceptions such as Douglass & Bilbao (1975) Basque communities were not historically theorized as such.
At the beginning of the nineteenth-century, the three-hundred year-old Hispanic World was the largest Empire (or better conceptualized as Hispanic Monarchy; Portillo, 2005) on earth. However, during this period, a non-mutually-exclusive multi-ethnic, cultural, and linguistic “Empire” had been transformed into an embryonic European modern liberal state, which expanded just over its original in-lands, i.e., the Iberian Peninsula –particularly on the “Castilian nucleus”- (Portillo, 2005; Balfour, 1995, 1997; Carr, 1982; A. D. Smith, 1987)  . However, several authors (e.g., Boyd, 1997; de Pablo et al, 1999) argue that the processes of cultural and political nationalization within the modern borders of Spain were far from completed. At that time, the predominant Spanish national identity (culturally Castilian and Catholic, politically Spanish, and quite exclusive) was increasingly contested, since the last third of the nineteenth-century, by other incipient, and also exclusive, national formation projects of the so-called “regional peripheries” of Catalonia and the Basque Country (País Vasco) (Corcuera, 2002; de la Granja, 2002).
I provide a concrete application of diaspora and transnational paradigms, as “fresh” approaches to understand the historical trajectory of Basque transocenanic/s spatial identities, in the nineteenth-century America, within the context of the collapse of the Hispanic Monarchy; the process of Spanish nation and state formation; and the emergence of an incipient Basque nationalism. Both concepts transcend the traditional framework of “nation-state” centered analysis offering alternative approaches toward Basque identities contextualized in space and time; i.e., in the historical processes of modernity, the “nation-state” formation of Spain and the former Hispanic colonies (see Butler, 2001; Glick Schiller et al, 1992a; Wimmer & Glick Schiller, 2002).
This will require a “historical retrieval” (Smith, 2000), and a periodization of the Basque diaspora/s from transoceanic/s communities in the Hispanic Monarchy, 1492-1820s, to Basque transnational ‘nationalized’ communities, 1820s-c1900 (Roudometof, 2000) in the Spanish modern era .
1. The Basque Atlantic Shores
To what extent do overseas Basques constitute diaspora/s or “ethno-diaspora/s”? How and to what extent do Basques outside the Basque homeland develop a strong sense of separate diasporic and transnational consciousness? Answering these questions depends partially on the definition of the term ‘diaspora’. Kimt & Lubkemann (2002: 150-151) argue that “the meaning of diasporic consciousness involves an interplay among many different levels of social organization, from the familial and the local to the state and the supranational […] Identity becomes a multisited and multilevel negotiation […] Ultimately, the extent to which local identities become more or less diasporic depends on the complex interplay among local-level, identity micro-politics and the macro-politics of multiple state and the supranational identities.”
Following Tölölyan (1996: 14), Glick Schiller (1999), and Sheffer (1999), I introduce the “ethnic element” to reshape the concept of diaspora. Consequently, I conceive “ethno-diasporas” or “national diasporas” as scattered deterritorialized ethnic people that form a distinctive collective identity to their host societies’ dominant culture, where they have instituted specific “ethno-diaspora” social identities, institutions and networks across spaces and over time. The institutions and networks favor transnational or cross-border interactions and ties with the homeland and co-ethnic diasporic members (i.e., a world spanning web of attachments and diasporic allegiances) as well as the formation, maintenance, and development of their identities. They combine and share across the planet a cultural identity from a particular place and culture of a particular time and generation. According to this definition, Basques do constitute “ethno-diasporas,” and furthermore, they constitute historical “ethno-diasporas” as I will evidence in the following pages. I consider the Basque “ethno-diasporas,” as plural cultural realities, not as monolithic and homogeneous communities. They integrate and accommodate migrants from diverse times, generations (consecutive or not) and regional places who bring their own sense of Basqueness and thereby help to reshape existing meanings of identity within their new host Basque diasporic communities (see also Butler, 2001; Schnapper, 1999). Brah (1996: 184) reinforces the previous statement as follows: “all diasporas are differentiated, heterogeneous, centered spaces, even as they are implicated in the construction of a common “we.”
Glick Schiller et al (1992a: 1) introduced for the first time the concept of transnationalism as a new analytic framework for understanding migration past and present. The authors define it as a process “by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement” (see also Glick Schiller et al, 1992b; and Glick Schiller, 1999). Transnationalism is also defined as “the capacity to shift the frame and move between varying range of foci, the capacity to handle a range of symbolic material out of which various identities can be formed and reformed in different situations, which is relevant in the contemporary global situation” (Featherstone, 1995: 110). It refers to multiple ties and interactions linking people or institutions across the border of states (e.g., transmigration) (Klint & Lubkemann, 2002: 152). In this sense, Basques are physically connected to the host countries where they currently live, and emotionally and psychologically connected to a sense of an ancestral homeland (Totoricagüena, 2000; 2003a; 2004). Roudometof (2000: 365-366) strongly argues that transnationalism is inherently connected to the worldwide international system of nations and states formed since the end of the nineteenth-century, and consequently “it is only after populations were bounded and nationalized that we can speak of people being “out of place” –transmigrants, migrants, refugees, and other forms of transnational peoples.” However, other authors (Foner, 1997; Karim, 1998; Smith, 2000; Vertovec, 1999) sustain those transnational practices as long-distances networks precede the formation of the “nation-state” (Wimmer & Glick Schiller, 2002: 324).
I argue not only about the historical continuity of Basque identities and the reinvention of their overlapping traditions (shared cultural past), but also about the formation and maintenance of those identities as transmigrants, deterritorialized, and diasporic communities for over five hundred years in the New World. There are compelling arguments that specify Basque collective actions and transoceanic/s networks (transnational since the creation of “nation-states” according to Roudometof’s aforementioned arguments) established along likely cohesive ethnic/kinships (or collective cultural, sentimental ties –emotional commitment-) lines, real or imagined, that linked Basque diaspora communities and the homeland throughout the Hispanic Monarchy territories, the Old and New Worlds since 1500s. According to Pescador (2004: 21) this illustrates the emergence of a “pan-Basque colonial identity that emphasized common cultural traits over Old Country social markers, such as status, origin, and household membership” (see also Douglass & Bilbao, 1975). I evidence these arguments by specifying those collective actions networks. Those bi-directional networks (from individual to individual, from village to village, from institutions such as Basque diaspora Centers to homeland institutions) triggered a chain migration between two worlds that lasted over five hundred years constituting a Basque space which communicates both shores of the Atlantic. America became idealized as “El Dorado” in the imagination of the homeland Basques. It was portrayed as the place which offered profitable economic opportunities to quickly become wealthy (i.e., “hacer las Americas”). The Basque “adventurer,” the “indianuak” figure, was replaced later by the images of the “Amerikanuak,” and the “Australianuak” (from late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) as the pragmatic and realistic new “adventurers” whose main goal was to save money to go back home (Pescador, 2004). Subsequent Basque migrations benefited from the important positive social status of the Basques as a collectivity and the existence of an institutional network that supported the newly arrived immigrants and help them to adapt to the new ways of the host societies.
Furthermore, I focus on the interconnectedness of both “worlds” and the impact of the nationalization processes of the Spanish state, the American territories, the political mayhem of the Carlist Wars, the fuerismo , and incipient nationalist ideologies. Grinberg & Grinberg (1988: 67) remind us that the connections maintained throughout spaces, generations, and time, between those who left the country and those who remained “depend[ed] upon the quality and intensity of the bonds that unite them.” This interconnectedness is somehow viewed as a contemporary consequence of the globalization processes and the direct impact of new technological improvements. However, it is not a new occurrence. The interrelation and communication between both sides of the Atlantic were a norm rather than an exception due to the new successive waves of immigrants (particularly between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries), repatriates, exiles and refugees, epistolary communication, and oral literature. The Basque culture is, overall, a transatlantic culture formed by people, artifacts, and texts circulating across the Atlantic  . Predominantly, the propagandistic written literature developed firstly by homeland antagonistic political ideologies such as Carlismo, fuerismo, and liberalism , and later on by Spanish and Basque nationalist principles (the later since the end of the nineteenth-century), contributed to interconnect peoples across space and time enhancing the imagination of those Basque and their descendants as part of a wider “Basque community” . That is, a Basque “long distance nationalism” (Anderson, 1991: 327), understood as “the ideology of belonging that extends homeland politics into transnational social fields” which “links together people living in various geographic locations and motivates them to action in relation to an ancestral territory and its government” promoting, according to Wimmer & Glick Schiller (2002: 316-323), a “trans-border citizenry” . Moreover, Totoricagüena (2004: 35, 69, 83-84) argues that by 1894, the Basque nationalist ideology was “widely known” in the diaspora “as printed in Basque newspapers in Argentina […] By the early 1900s there were several Basque periodicals consistently published in the Americas that promoted the fueros and ethnonationalist ideas”  . In this regard, Anderson (1991) evidences the relation of “print capitalism” (novels and newspapers) and the formation of “nation-states” as “imagined communities” of people who were never in-face-to-face contact.
A much different matter is the one related to the elusive meanings of Basqueness throughout time. I argue that every single meaning given to the conceptualization of Basqueness is an historical construct tailored to its spatial and temporal context (identity narratives of belonging and being). Similarly, Green’s (1987) historical research on Barbados identity within the British-Caribbean colonial context, states that any sense of collective identity is both “place-specific and time-specific.” It is not until the end of the nineteenth-century (particularly since 1898 in the Spanish case) we are confronted with the first attempts of political and cultural reductionism and nationalization of local cultural collective identities that we become aware of the antagonistic clear-cut Spanish/French versus Basque identities . However, taken into account the large numbers of migrants leaving Spain, France, or the Basque Country for that matter, none of them have ever attempted to define Spanishness, Frenchness, or Basqueness in terms of a deterritorialized identity. Consequently, they have excluded, in national-political-cultural terms, those who share their same own identity but live abroad . Prior to this simplistic identification of cultural identity with political identity during the modernity era, identities were understood not as a constraint of possibilities, but as inter-changeable, and overlapping world of opportunities. Challenged by the question, “who was Juan de Oñate? –Spaniard? Hispanic? Basque? Gipuzkoan? Andalusian? Castilian? Jew?” Douglass (2000: 154) states, “he [Juan de Oñate] was all of the above and much more. Who he was likely to be, i.e. which of his identities was in play at any given moment, must be contextualized in time and space” […] “Framed in such fashion, Juan de Oñate’s playing fields and personal strategies are but a microcosm and metaphor of other individual and collective displays, invocations, and appropriations of “Basqueness” for particular purposes, at particular times, in particular places, by particular persons and groups.” As Schneider (2003) states “we make claims about who and what we are by invoking particular categories at particular moments in interaction […] Identities are invoked to address the exigencies of particular conversational interactions.” That is, an identity of “multiple subjectivities,” and “multiple repertories” (Donnan & Wilson, 1999: 39).
1.1. New World colonial transoceanic/s experiences (1492-1820s): Basque “ethno-diasporas” as transoceanic/s diasporic communities:
Padgen & Canny (1987: 269) consider that the history of the formation of identities, specific to colonial societies, “is the history of the transformation of [cultural or social] values” which were “initially imported from the metropolitan cultures.” The authors argue that this transformation took place due to “self-perception,” “self-assertion” and “the recognition of separateness” from the metropolitan values. Historical and socio-anthropological studies (Douglass & Bilbao, 1975; Douglass, 1989; Totoricagüena, 2000, 2003a, 2004) evidence that Basques were a self-aware distinctive ethnic or national cultural group (Connor, 1994: 42-43, 100-103) by the time they arrived into the New World in 1492. Douglass & Bilbao (1975: 74) illustrate that as early as their arrival in the new continent “this awareness was translated into collective actions, mutual assistance, a common stance towards outsiders that the Basques were set apart from other Iberian and Creole groups.” Consequently, Basque identity self-image as a distinctive and a separate identity, in relation to other co-ethnic metropolitan groups and to the metropoli itself (the Hispanic Peninsula which was assembled by various cultural, social, political, and linguistic categories of self-identification) might have been reinforced as such, in an uneven or limited and never linear way, throughout time. Basques were bound by a multiplicity of institutional, economical, and psychological ties to their localities, regionality, and metropoli. However, their attitudes and experiences of migration and settlement, such as the physical and physiological distances, transcended the conventional identity boundaries of the country of origin from a village to a metropoli region. This helps them to reshape and emerge their own sense of identities as Basque, as Atlantic colonists (Creole elite), and latter on as American nationals, i.e., Mexicans, Peruvians or Argentineans (see Pescador, 2004).
Additionally, Douglass & Bilbao’s (1975) research evidence the socio-economic and political leading status of Basques throughout the Empire’s colonial and postcolonial eras  . Those authors (1975: 64) argue how Basques “play[ed] a prominent role in the conquest and colonization of the New World as mercenaries, missionaries, mariners, and later on in high colonial and postcolonial administration positions.” Douglass & Bilbao (1975: 113-114) point out that “in their role of merchants Basques were seen [traditionally] as opportunists, middlemen who exchanged Mediterranean products and Castilian wools for the goods of northern Europe and who profited at everyone’s expense,” in the late Middle and early Modern times . This transactional trading network was based on networks of “similarity” ethnic/kinship solidarity and mutual trust. This traditional merchant role was exported and exponentially increased in the New World, while creating new transoceanic/s (although no exclusively) co-ethnic colonial trading and business networks (e.g., “La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas”founded in 1728). That is a Basque “trade diaspora” established within the framework of the Hispanic Empire colonial diaspora (Totoricagüena, 2004: 55). Between 1520 and 1580, it is estimated that 80% of the trade of the New World was controlled by Basques, while in the next period 1580-1610, the trading networks controlled by Basques decreased to a 50% (!) (Lynch 1964: 35, cited in Totoricagüena, 2001: 16)  .
This suggests that Basques despite being geographically dispersed, tended to actively promote and manage similar collective actions as a way to enhance their predominant status tied to cultural, ethnic, family, and kinship lines and networks, as well as a way to increase and maintain their historical-cultural ethnic consciousness and solidarity among themselves. This unmistakably implies the early constitution of a Basque “ethno-diaspora/s” that persisted historically (not necessarily in a linear and homogeneous way) until the present day. Several authors (Garcia Girádez, 1996; Gonzalbo Aizpuru, 1996; Herzog, 1996; Ortiz de la Tabla & Ducase, 1996) evidence those Basques and their descendants (criollos) constituted networks of powerful families that were the hegemonic socio-economic and political elites in the colonial and postcolonial eras. Casaus (1996: 298) estimates that in the eighteenth-century, 70% of the hegemonic elite in Centro America (today’s Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) were of Basque ancestry.
The following examples of Basque historical associationism  and collective action and support, which signify bonds of solidarity among members of communities, illustrate and help us to understand the dynamics of diasporic identity formation and maintenance as cross-border, transoceanic/s ethnic collective networks. During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries Basques established several mutual-aid societies, confraternities, voluntary religious, cultural, and ethnic solidarity organizations in the Hispanic territories, colonies as well in the Peninsula, soliciting benefactors and creating business networks on both sides of the Atlantic (Bilbao Azkarreta, ed. 1992; Escobedo et al., 1996)  . Pescador (2004: 116) argues that those types of organizations, particularly the confraternities, brought together Basques from different provinces to common religious and linguistic purposes, creating a generic common sense of Basque identity. Consequently, the author states that “the differences among provinces and historic rivalries among neighboring jurisdictions withered. In Spanish America the Basque nation enthusiastically developed a new historical consciousness of its origins and purpose, and Basques embraced projects expressing these new ideas.” Three of the most significant associations were:
1. The Cofradía de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu de México (1671). This is definitely one of the most important organizations ever established by Basques (Peninsular Basques from the four provinces) in both sides of the Atlantic. It remained open until 1860. It was significantly established in the second most important city of the Empire, Mexico City. The purpose of this fraternity was twofold: spread Christianity and assist Basque immigrants. It was independent from civil and ecclesiastical authority. According to Pescador (2004: 115-116) “it functioned as the main entity through which the Basque community had access to religious services, financial help, political culture, and their own space within which interact.” Their members established transoceanic/s business networks (e.g., providing low-interest rate loans) among members and non-members; Basques and non-Basques within New Spain, Veracruz, Cuba, Philippines, and the Peninsula as well as among other Basque Fraternities such as the Cofradía de San Ignacio in Madrid (Luque Alcaide, 1996: 462-465).
2. The Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas (1728-1779) was a Basque-controlled trading company with Venezuela. It became a true ethnic monopoly within the late Hispanic Monarchy (Douglass & Bilbao: 1975: 88).
3. Finally, the Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País was established in the Vascongadas Provinces in 1765 as part of a European Enlightment . It aimed at promoting the improvement of socio-economic conditions in the Basque Provinces. “Its major source of support was clearly the influential and wealthy Basques scattered throughout the empire.” It became a “worldwide ethnic organization” (Douglass & Bilbao, 1975: 108-110). According to Totoricagüena (2004: 31) it is “one of the first concrete examples of institutionalized Basque transnationalism and diaspora consciousness.” By 1793, the majority of its membership resided in the New World, followed in numbers by the ones in the Peninsula (Cadiz, Seville, and Madrid), Europe, Asia (the Philippines), and Africa. According to these authors, its membership was formed by the Basques in the highest circles of the Empire’s socio-economic, political, administrative, and military elite.
1.2. Basque “ethno-diasporas” as transnational post-colonial ‘nationalized’ and deterritorialized spatial communities:
According to Padgen (1987: 51) “by the end of the eighteenth century […] most of the inhabitants of the Spanish American mainland were conscious that they belonged to communities that, thought they still shared a common language, a common religion, and much else in addition with Spain, were no longer Spanish.” By 1825, all American continental former Hispanic Monarchy colonies had achieved their political autonomy –“undergoing the process of transformation from societies of immigrants to societies of natives”- (Elliott, 1987: 12). The Spanish Monarchy’s influence in las Americas was reduced to the Antilles and the Philippines (Colomer, 1996: 43-57). Peninsular Spanish people were faced with the choice of either leaving the new Latin American countries or renouncing their Old World “citizenship.” Within this post-colonial and post-war context of assumed “anti-Spanishness,” peninsular immigrants could easily detach themselves from the negative stereotyping associated to the Spanish identity (as colonial, imperial etc.) by claiming other aspects of their multiple shared identities such as the Basque because being Spanish or being Basque were not yet redefined as hierarchical (national vs. provincial/regional) or mutually exclusive identities (being Basque is not being Spanish) as it will happen intensively by the end of the nineteenth-century. Similarly, Leal (2002) refers to the fact that Azorean identity increasingly grew, in the same period in Brazil because of the negative resentment perceived and associated to a generic and overarching Portuguese identity within its post-colonial context. Azoreans tended to claim their Azorean identity over the Portuguese one which held a negative connotation and negative social status (see also Swartz, 1987; Padgen, 1987; and Padgen & Canny, 1987).
It is evidenced that Basque Creoles continued to hold high socio-economic and political positions in the ex-colonies (Garcia Girádez, 1996), while Basque emigration continued to the Rio de la Plata (today’s Argentina and Uruguay) in the 1830s. In this regard, “there was no discontinuity in the awareness of a former migratory tradition” (Douglass & Bilbao, 1975: 135). These authors argue that emigration was embedded in the collective memory of families and villages for the last four hundred years, and the independence of the former colonies was not viewed as an impediment to continue emigrating . Moreover, the Napoleonic military campaigns on the Basque territories, followed by the first and second Carlist wars (1833-1839, and 1872-1876), and the famine of 1846-1847, forced many Basques to exile which implied an imposed departure and an impossibility to return home (Douglass, 1989; Totoricagüena, 2004: 61-63). In addition, the rise of capitalism and the demand for wage laborers pulled many Basques out of the Basque Country to countries such as the United States (US), Canada, Argentina, or Australia, constituting a Basque “labor diaspora.”
From the 1850s, the newly independent countries of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile created discriminatory positive immigration policies that specifically requested Basques, among other European groups, as new settlers/pioneers and manual laborers (Azcona, 1992; Iriani, 2000; Totoricagüena & Douglass, 1999; Totoricagüena, 2000; 2003a; 2004). By 1853 a Spanish Royal Order lifted previous restrictions on emigration, while Basques continued to establish and promote transoceanic/s, transnational ‘newly nationalized’ communities. The new loyalties to the new national host societies became part of the newly arrive emigrant identity. It is roughly estimated that nearly 200,000 Basques immigrated (legally) into the New World from the 1830s to the beginning of the twentieth-century (Azcona, 1992; Iriani, 2000) .
By 1848, gold had been discovered in California, and hundreds of thousands of people moved into the region. Basques were not aloof to this phenomenon. New waves of Basque immigrants coming from Latin America and Quebec (or French Canada; Eagle, 1979) joined other well-established Basque families who populated this area since the colonial era (as a secondary migration). First many of them participated briefly in the mining industry, then they moved into the cattle industry expanding their businesses into the United States American West by the 1860s (e.g., Nevada, Idaho, Oregon) (Bieter & Bieter, 2000; Douglass & Bilbao, 1975; Douglass, 1979, 1987; Totoricagüena, 2003b). These new waves of Basque postcolonial modern migration established new ethnic cultural transnational organizations and networks across spaces and times which responded to similar necessities and demands of the Basque diasporic communities. Between the end of the nineteenth-century and the beginning of the twentieth-century, “in each [Latin American] country the Basques maintained their ethnic group self-awareness, which converted into formal organizations as they made concerted efforts to maintain Basque cultural traditions” […] “The maintenance of ties with the Basque Country is reflected clearly in some of the activities of the Basque organizations in Latin America” (Douglass & Bilbao, 1975: 170) .“Their ethnic institutions have developed along similar patterns regardless of century and country […] and regardless of the dates of initial Basque immigration” (Totoricagüena, 2004: 79).
The first Basque modern period socio-cultural organizations were created in Uruguay and Argentina as a response to the aforementioned abolition of fueros in 1876 in the homeland, and the Carlismo influence in the “Basque-American” communities: The Laurac Bat was established in 1876 in Montevideo (see Irigoyen, 1998), and then a year later, La Sociedad Vasco-Española Laurac Bat (later on known as Laurak Bat) was established in Buenos Aires as a pro-fueros “political organization” celebrating annual protests against the abolition of fueros (Douglass, 1999; Totoricagüena, 2004: 68). Both organizations aimed at promoting Basque culture, and assisting Basque-Spanish emigrants. Consequently, the Centre Basque-Français (1895) and the Centro Navarro, both in Buenos Aires, were established to attend their fellow “compatriots” necessities. The establishment of the Asociación Cultural y de Beneficencia Euskal Echea de Buenos Aires y de Lavallol (1901/1916) was a successful project to integrate all Basques from both sides of the Pyrenees in one cultural project, and soften their regional rivalries from back home. It was used as an asylum for Basque indigent elderly people and Basque orphans. It is still open. In 1882, Plaza Euskara was built in Buenos Aires as a frontón (Basque hand-ball court). This game, particularly the jai-alai or cestapunta, will become quite popular around the world in the next decades, as it became associated to gambling, producing a good amount of revenues. Many Basque local male youngsters will find in this traditional game a good opportunity to escape the bad socio-economic conditions existing back home. This will create a very specific type of Basque migration (compose by jai-alai players) which will follow the establishment of courts throughout Europe, las Americas, and Asia (Cava Mesa et al, 1992; Cava Mesa, 1996; Márquez Ortiz, 1996). Within this context, the boarding houses (ostatu Amerikanuak) and hotels established by Basques, and exclusively for a Basque clientele, created a network of Basque enclaves throughout Argentina, Uruguay, and the US American West (Iriani, 2000; Echeverria, 1999). In the particular case of the boarding houses and hotels created throughout the eleven western states of the US (similar to the ones in Uruguay and Argentina), those functioned as “homes away from homes” (as surrogate home/families) as well as “cultural brokers” (Hoerder, 2002: 12) to ease the transition from the Old World (old country) to the New World (new country) for the newly arrived Basque immigrants. The boarding houses become the nucleus of Basque communities filled by homeland values (Echeverria, 1999).
At the same time, several periodicals, popular modes of communication, began to be printed in America by and for the Basque diasporic communities. In Buenos Aires, La Vasconia – Revista Euskaro-Americana (1893-1901) later known as La Baskonia (1901-1943) was established. It was distributed in American areas populated by Basques as well as in Europe. Significantly, the first-ever, short-lived, published weekly newspapers in Basque language were printed in America: Euscaldun Gazeta (1886, Los Angeles, California. It consisted in three numbers), Californiako Euskal Herria (1894-1897, Los Angeles, California) also distributed in San Francisco, San Diego, Mexico City, La Havana, and Río de la Plata; and the bilingual (Basque and French) Euskal Herria – Journal Basque-Français du Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires (1898, printed also in French)  .
These periodicals connected Basques across spatial geographies and generations while offering not only general news on local communities but also contributing to the initial construction of a Basque diasporic consciousness among Basque immigrants’ communities and their descendants (Totoricagüena, 2003a: 60; 2004: 69). These periodicals increased the awareness of interconnectedness among Basques who shared common experiences of migration, across borders, in distant parts of America, and on both sides of the Atlantic. That is to say, those experiences resembled a physical and psychological uprootedness (migration as trauma, crisis, as loss) as well as a physical and psychological adaptation (re-rooting, as gain) (see Grinberg & Grinberg, 1989). They exemplified a dialectical contradiction between becoming similar (assimilation) to their new neighbors in the host country, while remaining different (affirming their uniqueness and exclusiveness) within the new society, and particularly in relation to other ethnic migrant groups. According to Leal (2002: 243-246), immigrant societies were characterized by an“interethnic competition for identity and symbolic status” as a way to revitalize immigrants’ consciousness as different peoples. By all means, experiences of migration clearly affect migrants’ own sense of identity. For some migration was felt as a burden and a curse, for others was a gift and a blessing, while resembling a “double consciousness” (see DuBois, c1903/1961: 16-17; Hall, 1993; Gilroy, 1993) or “multiple consciousnesses” (Tölölyan, 1996: 28). In this sense, Brah (1996: 193) defines diaspora (and diaspora spaces) as being “potentially the sites of hopes and the new beginnings, they are contested cultural and political terrains where the individual and collective memories collide, reassemble and reconfigure.” In the particular context of Basque immigration into Argentina, Totoricagüena & Douglass (1999) point out that “throughout every generation, the Basques have married with people of non-Basque origin, and to say the truth in a fast way. In addition, the children of mixed-marriages receive contradictory messages, alternative cultural exigencies that appeal to their personal loyalties.” Those were/are, according to Sheffer (1999), the greatest psychological and political questions confronting migrants. In addition, Vertovec (2001), Heisler (2001), and Levitt (2001) argue that the negotiation of identity in “transnational migrant communities” is shaped by the fact that they belong to more than one location and they are “embark on a process of making values from two worlds fit” (Levitt, 2001: 97, cited in Vertovec, 2002?: 11), “without having to renounce either to their homeland culture or to their new culture” (Grinberg & Grinberg, 1989: 98). That is, this “diasporic consciousness” produces a “multiplicity of histories, communities, and selves” (Vertovec, 1997: 283).
In sum, the publications, distributed across different American countries, helped to promote a sense of a common Basque transnational and transatlantic cultural identity on a basis of a transnational consciousness. They helped to shape and articulate their own particular sense and understanding of Basqueness and culture, openly influenced by the interaction with the homeland (e.g., political and cultural ideologies), and by the cohabitation with other cultural groups in their host societies, resulting in multiple interpretations of a generic sense of being Basque.
I have empirically applied transnationalism and diaspora theoretical approaches to understand the configuration and maintenance of Basque identity/ies within the historical context of the collapse of the Hispanic Monarchy and the emergence of the Spanish “nation-state” project in the nineteenth-century America.
I have provided a multi-approach towards the understanding of the formation and maintenance of ethnic identities. This historical approach is not centered on the “nation-state” framework of analysis and the role that plays in the configuration of homogeneous and territorial politico-cultural identities, but is within transnational and diasporic perspectives, that enrich the late-modern discourse on Basque identity formation and maintenance.
Particularly, I have argued that identities such as the Basque are much better understood outside the traditional framework of analysis of “nation-states” that fall in a dialectical discourse of center-periphery (cultural identity production [“metropoli”] - reproduction [“colonies”]; authenticity-succedaneum, i.e., “cultural polinization”). On words of Hall (1997: 174) “the colonized other [and everybody else] was constituted within the regimes of representation of such a metropolitan center.” Furthermore, I have also argued that studies on identities such as the Basque need to take into account the significance of being contextualized in time and space. Finally, I demonstrate that the notions of transnationalism and diaspora (“ethno-diaspora”) are not mere conceptualizations to address the “observed reality,” but they are also constructive frameworks of analysis to analyze the historical formation and maintenance of identities such as the Basque.
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 This paper draws on a previous work by the author: “Towards a Diasporic and Transnational Reading of Basque Identities in Time, Space, and History,” Paper presented at the XXV International Congress of Latin American Studies Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 7-9, 2004.
 It has to be noted that the Hispanic Monarchy had been slowly but progressively dismembered throughout the centuries: in the sixteenth-century it lost the Netherlands, and in mid-seventeenth-century Portugal.
 The Basque presence in las Americas and its identity formation is related not only to the Hispanic Monarchy but also to the French and Portuguese Empires as well as the development, particularly, of the French state during the modern era. The French Empire expanded to the New World (e.g., Louisiana, the Caribbean area, and Canada), and the Portuguese one to Brazil mainly. In 1822, Brazil settled peacefully its independence from Portugal. In 1885, a Basque organization called Euskaldunak Orok Bat, was established in Rio de Janeiro. Due to self-imposed constraints, I focus only on the Basque diasporic and transnational experiences and practices related to the Hispanic World and the Spanish state.
 Ethnic, derived from the Greek word “ethnos,” is defined as a group characterized by common descent, ancestry. That is, a nation according to Connor (1994, 2002) –a “gemeinschaft,” an association resting upon a sense of kinship, real or imagined”-, particular to a pre-industrial society which could be replaced by a “gemeinschaft” particular to the industrial society. In this regard, ethnic groups are seen by Gurr & Harff (1994: 5) as “psychological communities” whose members share a persisting sense of common interest and identity that is based on some combination of share historical experience and valued cultural traits –beliefs, language, ways of life, a common homeland.”
 Basque fuerismo is described as an anti-modern, anti-liberal, anti-state, anti-central conservative ideology with two major goals (Fernández Sebastián, 1991; Rubio Pobes, 1996): To resist against the Spanish political modernization on the way particularly since 1837, i.e., judicial uniformity, and administrative centralization; to defend and protect the foral regimen (Middle Age’s fiscal, legal, and administrative consuetudinary regimen); and to legitimate and safeguard a particular judicial system of the Ancien Régime.
 See: González Cembellín, Juan Manuel. (1993). América en el País Vasco: inventario de elementos patrimoniales de origen americano en la Comunidad Autónoma Vasca (referencias bibliográficas). Vitoria-Gasteiz: Gobierno Vasco.
 Following Fernández Sebastián’s (1988: 184) arguments, one of the most important newspapers in the Vascongadas (the three Basque provinces in Spain) and Navarre, the Irurac-bat (Bilbao, 1852-1858; moderate liberal ideology) was widely distributed to the Antilles (particularly Cuba) and the Philippines due to the influence of the local Basque communities residing in those places. By the end of the 1850s, the paper printed 140,000 copies annually.
 The early Basque nationalism defined Basques as those who had a Basque ancestry and were Catholic. The Basque language, euskera, become also a clear differential factor and of great symbolic value for the national mission. Its political project was the creation of a Confederation of Basque States (Euzkadi) which was formed not by the seven Basque historical provinces on both sides of the Pyrenees (not so much as a territorial-based identity) but by those Basques of pure ancestry and Catholic religion (de la Granja, 2002; Corcuera, 2002). Therefore, the Basques in the diaspora become a ‘natural’ political target of the nationalist ideologists. In my opinion, this Basque Patria could not be seen contradictory for those Basques living abroad as their own redefinition of Basqueness would make them to conceive that one could be Basque without being born in the Basque Country.
 This newly Basque nationalized identity and awakened national conscience by opposition (being Basque was being nationalist; essentially not being Spanish) was quickly “exported” to the Basque diasporic communities in America. The Basque Center, Laurak Bat, of Buenos Aires witnessed the ideological clashes between pro- and anti-nationalist factions. The fueristas were outnumbered at the diaspora Basque Centers. See Alvarez Gila, Oscar. (1996). “Vascos y vascongados”: luchas ideológicas entre carlistas y nacionalistas en los Centros vascos del Río de la Plata (1900-1930), in Escobedo, Ronald et al (eds.) Emigración y redes sociales de los vascos en América. Vitoria-Gasteiz: UPV. On long-distance nationalism see: Skrbis, Zlatko. (1991). Long-distance nationalism: diaspora, homelands and identities. Research in Migration and Ethnic Relations Series. Brookfield, VT: Askgate.
 Examples of this Basque diaspora nationalist press are: Laurak Bat (1878, Buenos Aires);La Baskonia (1893, Buenos Aires), and Irrintzi (1903, Buenos Aires). The latter was published by a group of Basques emigrants who spread nationalist political convictions across the ocean. In the United States, Euzkotarra (1907, New Orleans) was also published. See: Ugalde Zubiri, Alexander. (1996?). La acción exterior del nacionalismo vasco (1890-1939): Historia, pensamiento y relaciones internacionales. Bilbao: IVAP.
 As a result of the loss of the last colonies, Balfour (1995) addresses the historical period of Spanish regenerationism as a neo-imperial expansion formed by military campaigns in North Africa and economic investments in the former Hispanic colonies, combined with the redefinition of Spanishness through Castilian parameters.
 We will have to wait until recent times to see the mechanisms that Spain, and France have created to include, at least legally (e.g., granting rights of citizenship to children of Spanish and French citizens born abroad), the emigrants and their descendants as part of their “territorial nation.” The Basque Autonomous Community follows also this trend and recognizes the emigrants and their descendants (from all seven Basque historical provinces) as Basques with full rights and benefits. A further discussion on this matter will be presented in following sections.
 Juan de Oñate (1550-1630) was the founder of the Hispanic New Mexico in the sixteenth-century.
 “Since access to administrative posts and honorific positions was reserved for persons who could demonstrate “Old-Christian” genealogical credentials, which is to say those with a demonstrable claim to limpieza de sangre or “clean blood” (Douglass, 2000: 142). The claim of “universal nobility” and “pure blood” made by the inhabitants of the Basque Provinces, secured their access to administrative, military, and high positions throughout the Empire. Their descendents, the criollos, entangled a tight network of families that preserved their socio-economic and political status in the colonial and postcolonial eras (see Casaus, 1996; Garcia, 1996; Gonzalbo Aizpuru, 1996; and Ortiz de la Tabla & Ducase, 1996) (see also Douglass & Bilbao, 1975).
 In relation to concepts such as “middleman minorities” or “trading diasporas,” Portes et al (1999: 225) suggest that “transnational entrepreneurs” were only those engaged in commerce across borders who “self-consciously preserve their distinct identities as members of a trading diaspora cultivating their networks across space, and traveling back and forth in pursuit of commercial ventures.”
 See: Escobedo Mansilla, Ronald, Ana de Zaballa & Oscar Álvarez. (1996). Comerciantes, mineros y nautas: los vascos en la economía americana. Vitoria-Gasteiz: UPV.
 It need to be noted that in the following pages I am referring to those Basque associations, confraternities, and brotherhoods that were legally constituted according to the law (i.e., have statutes, a constitution etc.). It seems logical to hypothesize that Basques formed other type of associations without being legally constituted.
 Another examples of Basque associationism were: Confraternidad de la Nación Vasca, Sevilla (1540, Convento de San Francisco); Fraternidad de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu de la Nación Vasca en Lima, Perú (1612); Confraternidad de la Nación Vasca en Arequipa, Perú (1630); Real Congregación de San Fermín de los Navarros, Madrid (1683-1961!!); Congregación de Naturales y Originarios de las Provincias de Alava, Guipúzcoa y Vizcaya (later known as Congregación de San Ignacio), Madrid (1713); and the Colegio de San Ignacio de Loyola (Colegio de la Vizcaínas, Mexico City, was established by Cofradía de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu de Méxicoin 1767, as an innovating initiative to educate women in New Spain. Originally it remained free of Catholic Church control. It is still opened today. Nación Vasca or Nación Bascongada refers to seventeenth-century religious organizations which aimed to secure liturgical services in Basque language (Pescador, 2004: 111-116). See: Garate Arriola, Justo and José Ignacio Tellechea Idígoras. (1992). El Colegio de las Vizcaínas de México y el Real Seminario de Vergara. Vitoria-Gateiz: Gobierno Vasco.
 Basque Creoles educational and literary initiatives intersected with their increasing differentiated colonial identities. In this context, it is worthy to note the initiative promoted by the Jesuit Juan José de Eguiara y Egurén as he wrote “Biblioteca Mexicana” in 1755 as an expression of Mexican identity. It is considered the first dictionary of biography in America. See: Millares, Carlo Agustin. (ed. 1994). Juan José de Eguiara y Egurén. Prólogo a la Biblioteca Mexicana.
 Pescador’s (2004) clearly evidences this transatlantic migration pattern through the case study of fifteen generations of migration from a Basque village to the New World.
 These numbers are extremely difficult to estimate because of poor record, and almost no records on those who returned to Europe or migrated to secondary destinations.
 During the late-nineteenth-century and early twentieth centuries, Basques created welfare associations, self-help groups, socio-cultural organizations such as the following ones: Manila, Philippines (1877); Asociación Vasco-Navarra de Beneficencia, La Habana, Cuba (1878); Sociedad Laurak Bat de Socorros Mutuos (today’s Unión Vasca de Socorros Mutuos), Bahía Blanca, Argentina (1899); Centro Vasco Americano, New York, US (1905/1913); Centro Vasco, Mexico City, Mexico (1907); Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos de Boise, Idaho, US (1908); and Centro Euskaro (later known as the Centro Vasco) La Habana, Cuba (1911) (Cava Mesa, 1996; Márquez Ortiz, 1996; Totoricagüena, 2004a: 68; 2004b: 99).
 In 1880, the first frontón (hand-ball court) was built in La Habana, Cuba, followed by the frontón Eder-Jai, which was built by the Sociedad Mexicana de Sport Vasco in 1895. In 1904 the Basque hand-ball game was introduced in the United States during the Saint Louis World Fair. In 1911, a frontón was built in Manila, Philippines. In 1914, the Boise Frontón Association was established. By the 1920s, more frontones were built in the US –Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, and New York-. By the 1930s, the game was introduced in Shanghai and Tientsin, China (Euzko Deya, 1950).
 Other Basque diasporic and transnational periodicals were the weekly Revista Sociedad Vascongada de Montevideo, called Laurak Bat, (1877-1882, on Spanish language), and Vascones, (1898) both from Montevideo; Revista de la Sociedad Vasco-Española de Buenos Aires, called also Laurak Bat (1878-1893, 1911, 1921-1922, 1930-1931, 1960-1970, on Spanish), and Haritza (1899) both from Buenos Aires; and the weekly Laurak Bat (June 1886-August 1886, on Spanish language) from La Habana, Cuba, dedicated to the Vasco-Navarros and their beneficence societies; Irrintzi (1904) from Buenos Aires and La Euskaria (1906) also from Buenos Aires (Douglass & Bilbao, 1975; Ruiz de Gauna, 1991).