CBS Event: Literatura eta Musika with David Romtvedt

Do you have an interest in the Basque Diaspora and enjoy good music? If so, the CBS and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library is pleased to invite you to Literatura eta Musika featuring CBS author and accordionist David Romtvedt on March 11-12 at 4 p.m. in UNR’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center Rotunda.

David and Caitlin

On March 11, David will be reading from his book Buffalotarrak: An Anthology of the Basques of Buffalo, Wyoming. This book is a collection of personal essays written by and about the Basques of Buffalo. These stories illuminate the experiences of the Basques in Wyoming and tie into the broader theme of the Basque diaspora in the American West.

On March 12, David will be reading from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space. In this historical fiction piece, David explores the experiences of Zelestina, a 16 year-old Basque girl in northern Wyoming. Inspired by the real life experiences of two Basque women, the character of Zelestina departs from the stereotype of the Basque immigrant as a lonely sheepherder.

After each talk, David will perform on the accordion and will be accompanied by his daughter, Caitlin Belem Romtvedt, an accomplished musician who specializes in “Brazilian and Cuban music, and old-style swing, blues, and jazz”. After the lecture on March 12 only, Elko-based Basque accordionist Mercedes Mendive will join the duo.

Mercedes Mendive

Admission is free! We hope to see you there!

February 9, 1918: Birth of raquetista Irene Ibaibarriaga

Arguably the most emblematic sport of the Basques is pelota in its many varieties, one of which, Jai-Alai, was especially popular in the United States at the close of the twentieth century. Another variety, played with tennis racquets by women, was also popular in the twentieth century, from the 1910s to the 1980s. One of the leading raquetistas of her generation, Irene Ibaibarriaga Ormaetxea, was born in Ermua, Bizkaia, on February 9, 1918.

She learned the sport in nearby Eibar, one of the strongholds of Basque pelota and at the age of fifteen she moved to Madrid, where her older sister Pili played professionally, to begin a career in the sport. She was offered a contract to play professionally in the Americas but turned down the opportunity and, despite her career suffering as a result of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), she still managed to make a living from the sport, playing in tournaments in Valencia, Barcelona, and later Donostia, often playing doubles with her sister. Later in her career she suffered a serious injury when a ball damaged her ear. She subsequently retired from the sport.

In 2013, a special tribute was paid to her on the occasion of the 7th Women’s Pelota Day held in Irura, Gipuzkoa. Ibaibarriaga died in 2014 at the age of ninety-six.

Check out Olatz Gonzalez Abrisketa’s Basque Pelota: A Ritual, An Aesthetic.

February 3, 1922: Birth of legendary tambourine player Felisa Arribalzaga

Before the advent of the modern recording industry live music reigned in the popular imagination of people in the Basque Country. One of the great “stars” of this age was Felisa Arribalzaga, born in Muxika, Bizkaia, on February 3, 1922. To say that she was just a panderojole (Basque tambourine player) is to do her a tremendous disservice because she was also an accomplished dancer, singer, and irrintzilari (a performer of the irrintzi, the Basque yell).

Although born in Muxika, on marrying her husband, Eduardo Egiarte, she moved to his home town of Amorebieta-Etxano (also known as Zornotza). The couple had met as teenagers on Mount Bizkargi, between Muxika and Amorebieta, while they were tending their respective flocks of sheep. Egiarte was an accordion player and the couple began performing in Bizkaia under the name the Zornotzako trikitilariak (Zornotza two-row diatonic accordionists). During the Franco years, they continued to perform their Basque music, often clandestinely as it was banned by the regime.

Arribalzaga died in her adopted home town on June 30, 2015.

She remains a great example of how music and dance in traditional Basque culture, according to CBS author Sabin Bikandi, form in many ways a single entity, given that it is impossible to truly understand one without the other.  See Sabin Bikandi, Alejandro Aldekoa: Master of Pipe and Tabor Music in the Basque Country.

For anyone interested in practicing their Western Basque dialect, check out the following 1997 radio interview (with Spanish subtitles) with Egiarte and Arribalzaga:

Visiting scholar Iñaki Sagardoi Leuza discusses controversial Altsasu Case at CBS Lecture Series

Iñaki Sagardoi Leuza (Public University of Navarre) spent a month in Reno at the Center for Basque Studies to conduct research for his PhD dissertation in Sociology and Social Anthropology. In his lecture, he analyzed how seven years after ETA was dissolved, the paradigm of “Basque terrorism” is still present in Spanish political discourse. He presented a case study in which this discourse is invoked in the context of a 3 am bar fight in a small town in Navarre.

The bar fight that took place in Altsasu (Navarre) in the early hours of 15 October 2016 made news in practically all of Spain. Accordingto  the first news  of  the most  relevant  Spanish newspapers,  a  couple of of Spanish policemen (known as Civil Guards)  and  their partners had  been “attacked” by about 50 people linked to the Basque radical nationalist left. They basically featured the version of the Spanish Government delegation in Navarre, which also reported that two of the aggressors had been arrested. Pascale  Davies, journalist  for The  Guardian, subtitled  her story  about  the “Altsasu Case” as follows: “Spanish high court to rule on whether pub punch-up with off-duty police was drunken scuffle or terror attack” (The Guardian, April 14 2018). Less than a month later, following a complaint of “terrorism in connection  with a  hate  crime” by  COVITE or Basque Victims  of  Terrorism Association in the National Court, eight  people  were arrested on November 14, 2016. The trial began on 16 April 2018. The Public Prosecutor’s Office maintained its position and argued that the incident was   “low-intensity  terrorism,  heir to  the  terrorism that  attacked the Basque  Country and  Navarre,”  and that  the  young people  of  Altsasu were  “heirs  to a  political ideology.” This  conclusion was very  much in  line  with the  attestation  and the  reports  drawn up  by  the Civil Guard which, curiously, had been charged with investigating the aggression against two of its agents. Finally, the court rejected the accusations of terrorism, considering that  the terrorist purpose had not been proved. The maximum sentence  of 79  years  for crimes  of  “attacking”  authority agents,  “injuries,  public disorder  and threats” were issued.

Besides working on his dissertation, Iñaki found time to learn more about American culture and Reno. “My month in Reno has served me not only to get to know the city and its beautiful outskirts, but also to immerse myself in a university system remarkably different from ours. When landing in this steppe of neon lights, it is impossible to deny an initial culture shock. But once you overcome it, you feel that you begin to know something more about American culture. It has been surprising, too, to feel the warmth of this small Basque island on the other side of the ocean.”

 

                      

 

 

Basque Women’s Book Club

A group of four Basque women have created a Basque book club, starring the books The Center for Basque Studies Press. So far, they have read A Man Called Aita and My Mama Marie, each a collection of stories by Joan Errea about growing up in rural Nevada with her parents Marie Jeanne and Arnaud Paris, both immigrants from Euskal Herria. They have also read At Midnight by Javier Arzuaga, a memoir of a young Basque priest whose parish was in La Cabaña, the fortress where the accomplices of the disposed dictator who had not fled after the Cuban Revolution were held, and later executed between Feburary and May of 1959.

“Our book group was started by us wanting to read these particular books, and talking about them”, said Florence Frye, the head of the book club. Frye also said that they are deciding on a new book from the CBS Press soon. If you are interested in joining the book club or have any questions, please contact Florence Frye at: nevadalovestory@gmail.com, and look out for the press’s new releases for Spring 2019 at: https://basquebooks.com/.

                          

February 1, 1903: Birth of philosopher Maryse Choisy

The journalist, writer, and philosopher Maryse Choisy was born in Doinibane Lohizune (Saint-Jean-de-Luz) on February 1, 1903. She was most renowned for founding a polemical response to surrealism: the suridealism movement.

Maryse Choisy (1903-1979).

Maryse Choisy (1903-1979).

Raised in the Basque Country by wealthy aunts, Choisy studied philosophy at Girton College, Cambridge in the aftermath of World War I. After a brief period of treatment by Sigmund Freud in the 1920s, she became a journalist  and began a prodigious publishing career that also included novels, poems, and essays. Most famously, she took up a position against surrealism, which, she thought, was based on a false interpretation of Freud’s concept of the unconscious. In turn, she published her “Suridealist Manifesto” in 1927. In 1946, she founded Psyché. Revue internationale de psychanalyse et des sciences de l’homme ( Psyche: International Review of Psychoanalysis and Human Sciences) and she subsequently established, together with  Father Leycester King of Oxford,  the Association Internationale de Psychothérapie et de Psychologie Catholique (International Association of Catholic Psychotherapy and Psychology). She was an especially important intellectual figure in interwar Paris and gained even wider renown after founding Psyché. She died in 1979.

A unique case in the world of football: Athletic Bilbao women’s team attracts record stadium attendance

On Wednesday, the quarterfinals of the Spanish Cup between Athletic Club and Atlético de Madrid made sport history for record attendance in Bilbao`s San Mamés stadium. 48,121 fans attended the game, and Athletic Club`s women`s team broke its own record of sixteen years ago, when 35,000 spectators showed up to cheer their team to its first Super League title against Híspalis. Bilbao`s women’s  soccer attracts by far the greatest number of fans in Spain, and probably in Europe, as this new record shows. By comparison, the Spanish national team game against the United States attracted 9,182 fans in Alicante only a few days before.

Record attendance of 48,000 in San Mamés stadium

There is much to celebrate about Bilbao`s penchant for women`s soccer in a country where men dominate the game.

“Twenty-first century Spain. You are born a woman, and you can become whatever you want: you can be a hunter pilot, a marine captain, a minister – but can you become a soccer player?” Cuestión de Pelotas, 2010

The question of a 2010 documentary on women’s soccer was rhetorical. That year, the film argues, women were still not granted professional status by the Spanish Football Federation. They were unable to make a living even if their clubs were willing to pay them, which lead to semi-legal minimum wage-like benefits for female athletes. “In Spain, things happened,” coach Vicente del Bosque said after the men’s national team won the 2010 World Cup. “We have become a modern country, and that is also reflected by our sport.” By men’s sport, that is. Women’s sports in Spain are still thwarted by institutional inequalities, social disinterest and almost no media visibility.

The 2003 game in Bilbao was a milestone for women’s soccer. It turned women’s play into a sport of mass spectatorship, and conquered fans. The prospect that women’s soccer can attract such attendance sent new energies through the frustrated ranks of this sport. Athletic Bilbao coach Iñigo Juaristi said that the turnout in Bilbao “should be a wake-up call for the Spanish Football Federation to take women’s soccer seriously.” La Puebla coach Isidro Galiot said that Bilbao “set the standards very high,” and contributed to the overall development of women’s soccer in Spain. Híspalis coach Sebastián Borras hoped that this was just the beginning of a new epoch in women’s sport: “I would like everyone in Europe to see what Athletic has achieved. I would like this not to stop here.” Fermín Palomar, then responsible for Athletic Club women’s soccer, spent that month responding to a flood of congratulatory phone calls and messages. “They want to know how we managed to attract 35 000 spectators for women’s soccer. I myself had to breathe deep not to break out in tears.” On Wednesday, Atlético de Madrid coach José Luis Sánchez Vera and his players left the field happy with their 0-2 victory, but even more perplexed by the crowd in the stadium. “This is a memory for all my life. It is something unforgettable to beat Athletic with 50,000 spectators on the stands.”

“It should be a medium-term plan that we play in San Mamés regularly,” Athletic Club player Garazi Murua said after the game.

There is perhaps one last thing for Athletic Club to kick off a new era in women`s soccer: play all women`s games in San Mamés. It`s hard to overestimate the legitimizing effect of place.

“How do you remember your great jump into the town square?” first ever female bertsolari champion Maialen Lujanbio was asked in an interview in 2009. “I started to be known by everyone,” she answered. “Because they put us… where we didn`t belong.”

Will San Mamés become the town square where female players belong for regular league games too? The magic of the Cathedral is such that it would turn women`s play into a serious adventure for those who still dismiss it as “anti-aesthetic,” or ni fútbol, ni femenino.  In May 2003, when Athletic femenino debuted by winning their first Superliga title, coach Iñigo Juaristi was thrown in the jacuzzi. Eskerrik asko he said at the press conference, dripping with water. “This can only happen in Bilbao.” When Bilbaínos first turned up by the tens of thousands to cheer their women players in San Mamés, arguments that women’s soccer can’t mobilize masses no longer counted. Bilbaínos had always thrived on challenges, and now they sent a powerful message. They were ready for their greatest bilbainada yet: turning women’s soccer into a mass spectator sport in a country where men monopolize it. If anywhere in Spain or indeed in Europe, it could happen in Bilbao. And there would be yet another reason to call Athletic un caso único en el fútbol mundial.  

The 2003 champion team

 

 

2019 Basque Writing Contest

The 2019 Basque Writing Contest is here! We are accepting manuscripts starting Friday to basquestudies@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing all your wonderful literary works and good luck!

 

 


Two-week Study Abroad: “Basque Languge, Food, and Culture” Summer 2019

Winter break has come and gone, and we are already into spring semester! I am thinking eagerly of summer, not only because (if all goes as planned) I will have defended my dissertation and gone on to teach my first on-campus course, but because I have finally gotten an opportunity to develop my own study abroad program, “Basque Language, Food, and Culture.”

My undergraduate years were spent being a little lost until I decided I would study abroad. Years of sitting in a seat and reading books finally materialized into tangible things such as innovative architecture, delicious food, beautiful landscapes, and connecting with those from other countries through their spoken language. While working at the University of Kansas, my colleagues at the Admissions Office used to send students to me when asked about study abroad opportunities. I would go on about all the ways in which my learning was enhanced by my experiences abroad; they were the same experiences that brought me to where I am today, having lived in the Basque Country for a year conducting fieldwork, and being able to communicate in more than one language.

That is why I have developed a two-week study abroad program in the Basque Country. This program entails a couple of classes during the summer before departing mid-July and will include a final assignment due in August, upon return.

For further details visit: www.ACO.unr.edu

*Limited space available*

For questions, please email me: klesh@unr.edu

General Information:

Cost: $2,975 (airfare to Bilbao not included)

Where: The Basque Country

When: Onsite in Basque Country July 15-28th (2 classes pre-departure and  final assignment due in August)

 What: 3 Undergraduate/Graduate credits (ANTH 499/699, BASQ 499/699, COM 490/690, HIST 498/698, SOC 497/697)

 

January 19, 1977: Basque flag legalized once more

Image by Daniele Schirmo aka Frankie688. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Image by Daniele Schirmo aka Frankie688. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Flown for the first time in 1894 and adopted as the official flag of the Basque Country in 1936, any display of the ikurriña or Basque flag was banned by the Franco regime after 1938. Even following the death of Franco in 1975, the public display of the flag was controversial, as noted in a previous post. On January 19, 1977, the ikurriña was made legal once more and in 1979, by the terms of the Statute of Gernika, recognized as the official flag of the Basque Autonomous Community.

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