On 16 February 2017, the Annual Manuel Irujo Lecture in Basque Studies took place at the University. Manuel Irujo (1891-1981) was a Navarrese lawyer and politician and an exponent of Basque culture. His work supporting the Basque language and the identity of the Basque Country was and remains notorious. The University of Liverpool has the honour of holding the Manuel Irujo Collection, donated to the Special Collections & Archives section of the Sydney Jones Library by Manuel Irujo’s grandchildren.

For this year’s annual lecture, Dr Nagore Calvo Mendizabal gave a paper entitled Deciphering the Basque City: Different Imagining of the Basque Country in the Post-Franco Period. Dr Nagore Calvo is a lecturer in Spanish and European Studies at King’s College London. Her research interests are based around the themes of political economy, state theory, nationalism, geographical studies, and historical sociology. She explores these themes in her study of modern and contemporary Spain and Europe. In 2015, she published a monograph with the Centre for Basque Studies entitled The Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation Building.

In her paper, Dr Nagore Calvo discussed how the post-Franco transition (1976-1982) in Spain brought about important political changes, including political decentralisation and the development of the Basque Autonomous Community. She argued that Basque nation building could be best understood within a broader political economy framework that understands cultural, political and economic discourses, rather than focusing on changes in the political scene. Moreover, she analysed how the newly formed Basque government, under the leadership of the nationalist Christian Democratic Party (PNV), used the challenging metaphor of the ‘Basque city’ as a focal point for encouraging economic growth, increasing local competitiveness and developing new imaginings for the Basque nation and identity. She consequently compared the concept of the Basque city to the concept of the ‘Basque region’, presenting the latter as an alternative to the first and with a competitive advantage in competition with other regional economies.