After the quarantine: a closer look at monuments to victims of ETA in the Basque country and Navarre Articles uri icon



publication date

  • January 2018

start page

  • 209

end page

  • 232


  • 2


  • 19

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1463-6204

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-9818


  • The first public sculpture memorializing the victims of ETA in the Basque Country was erected in 2002, more than 40 years after the terrorist group killed its first victim. This article analyzes the social and political conditions that provoked such delay in recognizing and offering reparation to ETA victims and the consequences that the proliferation of these public sculptures has had in the Basque public arena ever since. Drawing upon key concepts such as hierarchy of grief, developed by Judith Butler, and Andreas Huyssen's memory boom, the following pages argue that the absence of memorials in the Basque Country is a consequence of the changing politics of visibility surrounding ETA's victims during these decades. Nowadays, plenty of Basque towns have erected memorials to their neighbors assassinated by ETA. However, not everyone is pleased with their presence, and other municipalities, controlled by Basque nationalist parties, have counterattacked, building their own monuments honoring the victims of the paramilitary group GAL. Therefore, after ETA's ceasefire, the conflict seems to have found a channel in a symbolic struggle that concerns public space itself and exposes the complexities Basque society must overcome in order to build an appropriate, inclusive discourse regarding its violent past.