Inventing the Basque Block: Heritage Tourism and Identity Politics in Boise, Idaho
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This thesis examines the social, political, and economic underpinnings of creating a place for Basque immigrant descendants by the use of the Basque Block in downtown Boise, Idaho. In the past, unlike other immigrant groups in the United States, Basques lacked the desire to assimilate into the US and remained relatively invisible. Simultaneously, they created subtle ethnic communities and maintained transnational sociospatial ties with Basque Provinces in Europe. Today, these transnational ties are stronger, which has profoundly influenced the creation of the Basque Block. The Basques strive to maintain their heritage landscapes to retain their cultural identity and educate present and future generations about their unique legacy. Furthermore, the local community in Boise has recently marketed their heritage landscapes to attract tourists and bring attention to this "invisible" ethnic group. This thesis explores the challenges and opportunities brought on by the production and commodification of an ethnic heritage site.