The 16th of March 2011, Imanol Galfarsoro, well-known collaborator of Lapiko Kritikoa ("basque critical stew") and member of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy of the University of Leeds, gave a lecture in one of the Research Seminars organised by the Hispanic Studies Department of the University of Birmingham.
The title of the seminar was the following: "Cultural Theory and Identity Politics: Who said Basque difference?"
"Could the Spanish democrat alluded to earlier think of Basqueness as being at the centre of a multiculturalist strategy of its own which would indeed contemplate an open-minded spirit of respect and tolerance of the other as well, of course, as the ensuing celebration of diversity and minority cultures, hybridization, multicultural education etc? In other words, could this same Spanish democrat contemplate Basqueness deploying the very logic of the unmarked, of the empty signifier or the absent centre able to occupy a privileged universalist position and able hence to respect, say, the particular mores and customs of the Spanish ethnic minority in the Basque country?"
Imanol Galfarsoro's talk revolved around many concepts related to identity and culture: he first talked about national identity and multiculturalism within the context of Basque, Spanish, European, First World and also, tangentially, global politics. He placed emphasis on the imperative of rigour and reason in order to tackle polemical questions which are always short-circuited with high amounts of emotional investment and bias. As he stated, such is obviously the case when discussing the nation, which was presented as carrying its own pre-modern phantasmatic presence into modernity. Then opposition often established between Basque ‘ethnic nationalism’ vs. Spanish “civic, constitutional patriotism was also de-constructed while it was established that the ethics of alterity and the politics of multiculturalism rest on more problematic grounds that often accounted for in overly celebratory approaches to the question of difference. In this context, moreover, he talked about some basis to account for promoting forms of indifference to Basque cultural difference in order to place more emphasis on the notions of political equality and social justice.
This is the final paper submitted by Imanol Galfarsoro after the seminar: