Finally in our round-up of the books published by the CBS in 2015, we come to a couple of works that address the subject of politics, with one discussing the fascinating topic of politics as a means of advancing the notion of sustainable human development; and the other exploring how art and politics intersect, with a special emphasis on the Basque Country.

basque experience

The Basque Experience: Constructing Sustainable Human Development, by Juan Jose Ibarretxe.

This book by the former lehendakari  (Basque president) Ibarretxe provides an incisive analysis of the legal-political and socioeconomic aspects that have made of Basque society a sustainable human development. More specifically, Ibarretxe traces such development from the post-Franco recovery of self-government via the Statute of Gernika in the 1980s up to today, and specifically in the period between 1988 and 2008. He focuses on the three relevant but traditionally unrelated fields of economics, social balance, and peacemaking. The research identifies the key factors that made it possible for the Basque Country to become one of the leading nations in the Human Development Index (2007): specifically, resilience in the face of an ongoing political conflict dating back to the 19th century exacerbated by the violence of ETA since the mid-20th century. It is Ibarretxe’s contention that these factors and the lessons learned could be of particular relevance to other countries facing serious challenges and aiming to achieve sustainable human development within the context of their own cultures.

beyond guernica guggenheim

Beyond Guernica and the Guggenheim: Art and Politics from a Comparative Perspective, edited by Zoe Bray.

The book is the result of a conference on Basque art and politics from a comparative perspective. It brings together specialists from the fields of sociology, anthropology, art history, and art criticism. Part 1, on Valuing Art, concerns the question of who, how, and what value is given to art, and how this may change over time and circumstance. Part 2, on Artistic Political Engagement, reflects on how artists may be intentionally engaged with politics, either via their social and political status and/or through the kind of art they produce and how they frame it in terms of meaning. Part 3, on Exhibitions and Curating, focuses on the relationship between art and politics: what gets exhibited, why, how, and with what political significance or consequence. The book is unique in gathering a rich variety of different viewpoints and experiences, with experts from different fields talking to each other with sometimes quite different approaches.