Legal histories and modern identities: the emergence of nationalisms in the historical territories of the Kingdom of Navarre, Basque Provinces and State of Spain
Urrastabaso Ruiz, Unai
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This thesis proposes a legal and organizational approach to better understand processes of modernisation and the emergence of nationalist conflict. Theories of nationalism tend to be significantly influenced by state-centred and rather abstract positivist interpretations of law. Legal perspectives that have proposed understating law in relation to findings developed through the empirical study of law, such as legal realism or legal pluralism, have questioned positivist conceptions of law, emphasising the historical processes that created such conceptions of law, and the relationship between legal praxis and conceptions of society. Presumptions about personhood and society such as those influencing nationalist conflict may not be unrelated to legal existence and legal practice. Social actors’ interpretations of law, and the capacity of social authorities to mobilize human and material resources in defence of certain conceptions of law, may have been able to influence legal and political histories of European states, as well as the national or regional identities that would develop in relation to legal recognition and legitimate exercise of types and degrees of social powers. The historical study of Spanish and Basque nationalisms, although generally involving constant references to law – especially to constitutional law and to the fueros – tends to overlook the influence that social actors’ perceptions of legal order may have had in shaping the emergence of nationalist conflicts. Often, the focus is directed towards factors related to ethno-linguistic features or political ideologies. This thesis studies a historical puzzle, one that appears to have been influenced by legally defined entities, that have influenced the legal and political history of the state, and that may have influenced the development of a Basque-Spanish nationalist conflict: the different jurisdictional and ideological paths followed by key social majorities in Navarre and Euskadi between 1876 and 1936 after at least a century of displaying a rather similar position in regards to the state.