New William A. Douglass Chair in Basque Cultural Studies Inaugurated at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

The inauguration of the William A. Douglass Chair in Basque Cultural Studies took place on Monday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. One seminar and conference in Basque Anthropology and Culture will be offered annually by the university in order to promote Basque Studies and the topic of migration in a more general sense.

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Photo credits: Etxepare Institute

This year’s inaugural symposium was entitled “William Douglass, Basque Studies, and the Anthropology of Europe,” as an homage to the man who helped create Basque Studies in the United States. Introduced by the Provost, Douglass himself began the program with his lecture “Along for the Ride: Interpreting the Migrant Story,” in which he not only spoke of his career but also the connection to the present within debates on immigration.

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Dean Moddelmog visits the Center

Last Thursday, the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Debra A. Moddelmog, made a visit to the Center. It was a fun affair, showcasing the culinary talents of our small department. She was interested in meeting each of us, both students and staff, as we discussed our research and activities.

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Before coming to UNR, Dean Moddelmog worked for 29 years at Ohio State as professor and chair of the English Department. She is an expert in the work of Ernest Hemingway, which is a neat connection to our Center, as Hemingway spent time in the Basque Country, publishing The Sun Also Rises (based on his experiences there) in 1926. Moddelmog also established a Sexuality Studies interdisciplinary program at Ohio State, among many other leadership roles. She clearly has big ideas and we look forward to seeing her develop them here at UNR.

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Lafayette, Hero of the American War of Independence, and the Basque Connection

As I’m sure you all know, Lafayette–or to give him his full name, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834)–was the famed French aristocrat who fought in the American War of Independence and was a close friend of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson.  During the war he served with distinction at the Battle of Brandywine (1777), the Battle of Rhode Island (1778), and, later during a second journey, played a significant role in the Siege of Yorktown (1781). Today, cities, streets,  and squares–even a mountain–across the US are named in his honor. But did you know there is a Basque connection to Lafayette’s exploits?

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September 23, 1956: Stone lifter Iñaki Perurena born

Iñaki Perurena Gartziarena, arguably the most emblematic of all contemporary harri-jasotzaileak or Basque stone lifters, was born in Leitza, Nafarroa, on September 23, 1956. Despite making his name in the world of traditional Basque sports, though, Perurena is also an all-round cultural icon in the Basque Country, having been an actor, poet, sculptor, and bertsolari or improvised oral versifier as well as vociferous defender of the Basque language and culture. Despite all this activity, he still runs his family butcher shop in Leitza, and if that were not enough, in 2009 he opened the Peru-Harri Museum, a site devoted to the material of stone itself and traditional Basque sports as well as Basque culture and history in general.

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Amazing Footage of Basque Kayak Expedition to Greenland

A trailer has just been released for a forthcoming documentary on a Basque kayak expedition to the Kurssuaq River (meaning “Big River” in the local Greenlandic Inuit language) in Greenland. Aitor Goikoetxea and Mikel Sarasola from Gipuzkoa, together with Fermín Pérez and Edu Sola from Navarre,  spent August and part of September this year in the little visited southwest corner of Greenland in search of challenging river descents.

This is, apparently, the first time such a descent has been attempted on this river by kayak. What’s more, following an unusually dry, mild, and warm spring and summer, water levels were particularly high with glacial run-off. Despite the potential hazards, the team opted for the biggest river of all, the Kurssuaq, and filmed the results for their forthcoming documentary. The actual descent involved a 12-day trek upriver before setting off.

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New Exhibition at the Bizkaia Aretoa: “Amerikanuak. From North to South: Artists in residence in America by students from the Fine Arts Department of the University of the Basque Country”

An exhibition on the American experience by students of the University of the Basque Country began on September 19 and will take place until the 26th of the same month in Bilbao. The central theme of these artists is cultural understanding and we are happy to have been a part of it.

flyerThree students have spent time at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies during the past two years, thanks to the collaboration between our institution and the University of the Basque Country. Manuel Diego Sánchez, Leire Baztarrica, and Oihane Sánchez Duro brought their different projects and perspectives to Reno, taking part in courses offered by the Fine Arts Department as well as networking. Their work varies in its medium, but focuses on the migration of Basques in the West and images of Nevada.

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Ni ez naiz hemengoa

When my grandmother started losing her memory due to Alzheimer disease, she first forgot where her keys were, then the path to home or even where her home was. Later, she forgot that she lived in Hernani, the Basque town where she had been living since leaving her hometown in Spain sixty years ago. In the end, she thought that my siblings and I were her sisters and brothers, and she started talking more and more about her parents, who were, in her mind, waiting for her at home. This is exactly what happened to Josebe.

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Basques star at 2016 Tug of War World Championships

Teams representing the Basque Country enjoyed a lot of success at the recent Tug of War International Federation (TWIF) World Championships, held in Malmö, Sweden, September 8-11.

The Basque national team won a gold medal in the men’s 580 kg category, silver medals in the women’s 500 kg, the mixed 600 kg, and men’s 640 kg categories, respectively. Meanwhile, in the club competition, the Gaztedi team won bronze in the 500 kg and 580 kg competitions.

See the full list of results here.

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September 11, 2008: Ekainberri replica cave site opens

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Exact replica paintings, based on the originals in Ekain, in Ekainberri. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On September 11, 2008, the Ekainberri replica cave site in Zestoa, Gipuzkoa, opened to the public for the first time. It is a replica of the Ekain cave in Deba, Gipuzkoa, which is included in UNESCO’s “Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain” World Heritage Site.

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Outside view of Ekainberri, from the museum website.

Ekain was discovered in 1969 by Rafael Rezabal and Andoni Albizuri, who on entering the cave came across intricate paintings–33 horses, 10 bison, 2 bears, 2 deer, 4 goats, and 2 fish as well as other nonfigurative marks–that would eventually be dated back to between 10,000 and 14,500 BCE. That same year, José Miguel de Barandiarán and Jesús Altuna began work on excavating the site, a task that lasted until 1975. Their findings were published in 1978 and updated in 1984. In short, they revealed one of the finest examples of cave paintings associated with the Magdalenian culture of the Upper Paleolithic period, on a level equal to that of the renowned paintings of Altamira and Lascaux.

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New Books! The landscape of Basque literature and the Basque Country’s place in the European Union

The publishing season is heating up and Center is proud to announce the addition of 2 new books to our great line up of titles available!

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This Strange and Powerful Language, by Iban Zaldua

$20.00 ISBN 978-1-935709-70-1

“This mysterious language, it is very strange, very powerful,” This is how critic George Steiner responded when asked about the survival of the Basque language. Basque is a language isolate, related to none other. It is therefore understandable that Basque literature is mostly unknown, even though much of it is now available in Spanish and English translations. In This Strange and Powerful Language: Eleven Crucial Decisions a Basque Writer Is Obliged to Face, Basque novelist and essayist Iban Zaldua set himself the task of providing a guide for outsiders to contemporary Basque authors.

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