On June 3, 2015, in a column published by the Basque daily Berria (“‘Ai, Ama!’-renak”), Elixabete Garmendia discussed the stories of 17 women authors published by the CBS in an anthology edited by Gema Lasarte and entitled Ultrasounds: Basque Women Writers on Motherhood. Garmendia discusses current debates on the social realities and cultural conceptions of motherhood. She emphasizes the feelings of guilt modern mothers frequently experience for all sorts of reasons in the current working environment and as the result of changing nursing and educational patterns. Garmendia makes references to a “romanticized neo-maternalism” in which apparently progressive attitudes are in fact retrograde and in which women are blackmailed into having to achieve perfection in their parental roles.
To read the original article (in Basque), click here.
Ultrasounds (2014), compiles different stories written by seventeen Basque female writers that create a stunning new portrait of the “mother” and the “motherhood” in the Basque Country. Selected and introduced by Gema Lasarte, these stories delve deeply into the role of the mother in Basque culture. “The mother has always been a particularly potent symbol for the Basques” (Linda White & Elizabeth Macklin). In the last decades, not only the society but also literature has discussed about the perception of new identities. Identities that deviated from the dualities like mother/woman or male/female. The Basque literature is a clear example of that new era. In fact, the concept of what the motherhood is has changed. And the texts that appears in that book confirm the new direction that Basque society is taking.
The Basque feminist and anthropologist Elixabete Imaz argues that there is many different ways to be a mother. And this statement is reflected in the anthology. Actually, the main contribution that Basque female writers have made is to write about the figure of mother with all the nuances and complexities that surround it. Gemma Lasagabaster remarks that Motherhood is a key theme in contemporary feminist criticism, and, in particular, the difficulties that motherhood poses for writers. For this reason, the book is a real challenge to the status quo. Not only because they are rebuilding the concept of motherhood, but also because they are doing in English.
A book that is a turning point in the way that it shows the complexities of an archetypical image like the “mother” in the Basque culture.
Painting at top, La Crianza by Aurelio Arteta, taken from Pinterest.