ABSTRACT

The rethinking of Habermas’([1962] 1989) The Structural Transforma­ tion of the Public Sphere by Negt and Kluge (1993), and by among others feminist and social historians Nancy Fraser (1993), Joan Landes (1988), and Geoff Eley (1992), has argued persuasively that the bourgeois public sphere has from its inception been built upon powerful mechanisms of exclusion. The idealized image of a democratic theatre of free and equal participation in debate, they claim, has always been a fiction predicated on the mandatory silencing of entire social groups, vital social issues, and indeed, “of any difference that cannot be assimilated, rationalized, and subsumed” (Hansen 1993b: 198). This is especially clear in the case of those citizens who do not or will not speak the language of civil society. The linguistic terrorism performed with a vengeance during the French Revolution and re-enacted in Official English initiatives in the United States more recently, reveal to us how deeply monolingualism has been ingrained in liberal conceptions of Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité. But perhaps silencing may not be the best way to describe the fate of linguistic minorities or other marginalized groups. For, as Miriam Hansen (1993b) notes, what the more recent work on public spheres suggests is that ‘the’ public sphere has never been as uniform or as totalizing as it represents itself to be. Proliferating in the interstices of the bourgeois public - in the eighteenth-century salons, coffeehouses, book clubs, and working class and subaltern forms of popular culture - were numerous counterpublics that gave lie to the presumed homogeneity of the imaginary public. Spurred in part by ethnic nationalist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth

11 would like to thank the many members of Molotoff Irratia in Hermani and Paotxa in Usurbil who welcomed me to their stations and gave generously of their time. I owe a special debt to Jakoba Rekondo, who first brought free radio to my attention and has provided guidance, prodding, and support throughout this project. Thanks also to Jokin Eizagirre, Olatz Mikeleiz, Ana Altuna, and Javier Esparza for their help in Euskadi, and to Kathryn Woolard and Susan Gal for intellectual inspiration and editorial advice.