Matriarchy in Basque Cinema

Matriarchy, Motherhood, Myth and the Negotiation of (Gender) Identity in Modern Basque Cinema

By Gorka Bilbao Terreros

This article will examine the role of the mythical figure of the matriarch in the negotiation and construction of Basque nationalist identity in Basque Cinema. Through films such as La muerte de Mikel (1984), Alas de mariposa (1991), Yoyes (2000), Ander (2009) 80 egunean (2010), Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (2013) and Loreak (2014), it will study the cinematic representations of the monolithic archetype of the overpowering mother as a key pedagogical element of nationalism that became a fundamental guardian of Basqueness through the passing of and adherence to cultural norms, and through the administration of punishment to those who did not carefully observe them. However, as the importance of otherness in the construction of Basque identity dwindled in favor of a process of self-analysis and revision, so will the relevance of the matriarch, and its demise will allow the expression of Basqueness through the modernization of identitary spaces that articulate the heterogeneity of its own population rather than through the simple maintenance and recurrence of instances of otherness.

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