Month: May 2015 (page 1 of 3)

Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey

Gear up as tomorrow, Saturday, May 30th,  Bilbao and Barcelona play for the Copa del Rey in the oldest Spanish soccer competition.

Mariann Vaczi graduate of the Center for Basque Studies PhD program (2013), gets us ready as tomorrow one of the most well-known football competitions will take place between Barcelona and Bilbao’s Athletic. Mariann’s most recent article article in Catalan, Les cendres de San Mamésis about the increasingly popular practice of placing the ashes of the loved ones in soccer stadium. She describes the case of a Bilbao fan who spread the ashes of his sister in San Mamés and who attributed to her intervention the fact that Athletic did not lose the first category that year. This makes reference to one of the chapters of her book “Soccer, Culture and Society in Spain: An Ethnography of Basque Fandom” published by Routledge (2015) and which elaborates on the cultural premises and sociopolitical ties that bind Bilbao’s soccer fans. Mariann did her field work on Bilbao’s athletic club in which she studied soccer from anthropological and sociological perspectives, including the interfaces of sports with globalization, identity, gender, politics and the media.

In addition, Mariann also edited Playing Fields: Power Practice and Passion in Sports, which is a collection of articles on sports from a variety of perspectives and scholarly disciplines.



Flashback Friday: Valencia vs. Athletic Bilbao

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day

On May 29, 1949, the Basque soccer team, Athletic Bilbao, played the Spanish Cup Final –at that time called the “Supreme General Francisco Franco’s Cup” during the early years of the dictatorship – against Valencia CF in the Chamartin stadium in Madrid (Spain). In that game, although the Basque players fought until the very end, Athletic Club was beaten 1-0. It was an extremely hard-fought game in which Valencia won with a goal scored by Epifanio Fernández.

final cup

Epifanio Fernández scores the winning goal

lezama 1949

Raimundo Pérez Lezama (1922-2007), the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper, in action during the 1949 Cup Final

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 30, Athletic Bilbao will once again play in the Cup Final, this time against FC Barcelona, in Barcelona itself. Will they be more lucky this time around?

Check out some pictures of fans getting ready for tomorrow’s game, in both Bilbao and Barcelona, at Berria.

To learn more about how games, sports, and motor practices interact with global-local processes, inequality, gender relations, identity, representation, performance, and emotion through varied modes of analysis, approaches, and styles, check out the book Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport, edited by Mariann Vaczi.

This work includes an interesting chapter on Basque fan rivalry between followers of Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad from Donostia-San Sebastián.

Study hard, Play hard and Make a difference!

Center for Basque Studies: Amaia, Kerri, Ziortza, Hito, Joannes, and Iker


The spring semester is already done! Now we have all summer in front of us. New projects, new people, some farewell parties, etc. It was a hard study time but at the end it was worth it.  I want to demystify the idea that PhD student life can be boring. You must study hard, but at the end recompense is great! The strong relationship between us is the biggest support for those moments in which you can not see beyond the books and papers. Thankfully, Yes weekend! 

Meet the CBS grad students here.


CBS Author Bikandi Honored at Major Awards

Bikandi and kukai

Members of Kukai and Sabin Bikandi (right, wearing txapela)

CBS author Sabin Bikandi, founding member of Aiko Taldea, a group of qualified and experienced professional music and dance masters united in sharing and promoting Basque dance and music, was honored, May 18, at the 2015 Max Performing Arts Awards for best musical composition for a stage show for the score of Gelajauziak. This is the latest work performed by the Kukai Dance Company, which was also won the award for best group and which visited the Center in 2004, performing 1937: Gogoaren bidezidorretatik (1937: Journeys down memory lane). The CBS feels, then, especially proud to wish both Sabin and Kukai a well-deserved zorionak!

See a report on the event at

Sabin is the author of Alejandro Aldekoa: Master of Pipe and Tabor Dance Music in the Basque Country, described by one reviewer as, “a tour de force that seems destined to become a—if not the—definitive work on the subject and is essential reading for anyone interested in three-hole pipe music, or Iberian folk music and dance at large.”

And Aiko Taldea also teamed up with the Center to publish Urraska: A New Interpretation of the Basque Jauziak Dances as Interpreted by Sagaseta. This is a complete guide to the  jauziak, mutxikoak, or sauts basques circular dances that includes a book in Basque and English, 2 CDs, a DVD of dance performances, a guide to the dance steps for performing the jauziak dances, and PDF copies of the text in Spanish and French.



IkerGazte: First Conference for Basque Researchers

Between May 13 and 15, the UEU (Udako Euskal Unibertsitatea or Basque Summer University) presented IkerGazte, the First Conference for Basque Researchers, in Durango, Bizkaia. The conference represented a major statement about the current state of academic work being carried out in the Basque language.


The main goal of IkerGazte is “to normalize and to extend the use of the Basque language through coordination of academics, researchers, and students within this aim.” The UEU is an open organization that seeks to bring together young Basque researchers at different stages of their graduate studies.

Plenary talks at the conference were given by Paul Zachary “PZ” Myers, associate professor of biology at the the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) and author of the Pharyngula science blog, which the journal Nature listed as the top ranked blog by a scientist in 2006; Karmele Artetxe, associate professor of educational theory and history at the University of the Basque Country and one of the founders of the Inguma data base, a collection of the Basque scientific community’s authors, books, and articles; and Itziar Laka, full professor of linguistics and Basque studies at the University of the Basque Country, whose A Brief History of Euskara, the Basque Language, is available free to download here.

Papers and posters were presented in the fields of human sciences, social sciences and law, exact sciences and natural sciences, engineering/architecture, and health.

It’s worth recalling that the decision to standardize Euskara or the Basque language was only taken in the late 1960s and that, lacking institutional support until the 1980s, it was extremely difficult to publish scholarly works in the language. That academic production in Basque is, today, increasing is testament to the work and efforts of these young scholars.  The Center applauds such efforts. Zorionak! 

The current state of the the Basque language is discussed by Estibaliz Amorrortu in her Basque Sociolinguistics: Language, Society, and Culture.  Part 2, in particular, addresses language planning policies and how efforts are being made to normalize the use of Euskara in everyday walks of life.

Similarly, in Language Rights and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio, the case is made for the positive benefits of cultural diversity and multilingualism for any society.




Ahotsak: A Basque Oral Archive

Ahotsak is an initiative of the Badihardugu Association to collect and diffuse the Basque oral heritage and the Basque dialects. It is an archive of transcribed, recorded, and/or filmed interviews with Basque seniors about the lives and experiences.

Ahotsak hizlariak

Some of the people interviewed, from

The archive serves as a testimony to both the rich variety of dialects in the Basque language, and as a historical record of life and customs in the Basque Country during the early and mid-twentieth century.

To read, listen to, and/or watch the archived interviews, at the top of the Ahotsak homepage click on Grabazioak (Recordings). This will give you four options: Herriak (Towns), Gaiak (Subjects), Priektuak (Projects), and Hizlariak (Speakers).

For example, clicking on Herriak,  you will see a list of towns in the Basque Country in which interviews were recorded with people. The icons on the far right of the table indicate whether the interviews are available in video, audio, or transcription format. Do you have any family ties with the Basque Country? If so, why not see if your family’s home town is listed? You may even see some relatives or family acquaintances!

By clicking on Euskalkiak (Basque dialects) at the top of the homepage, you can access the interviews according to the dialect in question. The Euskalkiak page also includes maps that geographically locate these dialects.


The Current Panorama of basque Dialects, according to Koldo Zuazo. “Euskalkiak gaur” from the Azkue Fundazioa

To see some examples, check out the interviews with people from Lekeitio (Bizkaia), Baztan (Navarre), or  Urepele (Lower Navarre).

If you’re interested in Basque dialects, check out Koldo Zuazo’s The Dialects of Basque, an excellent general introduction to dialectical variation in the Basque language.

Flashback Friday: The Great Escape

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day

On May 22, 1938, a mass escape took place from Fort San Cristobal, in Ezkaba (Navarre), which operated as a Francoist prison from 1934 until 1945. Seven hundred and ninety five prisoners of war escaped from Fort San Cristobal. Two hundred and eleven prisoners of those who tried to escape from the prison were killed in their attempt to do so by the military forces of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Among those prisoners, at least twenty were Basques. Twenty-four individuals of those killed remain unidentified even today. It is considered as one of the most important and largest prison escapes in history.


A group of Basque prisoners at Fort San Cristobal


Aerial view of Fort San Cristobal

For further reading on the Basque resistance at the time of the political and military turmoil that turned into the Spanish Civil War and postwar repression, check out the biography of Jose Luis de la Lombana, A Basque Patriot in New York, who was himself a political prisoner and escaped from a Francoist jail in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country) in 1937.

Learning How to Eat Like a Basque

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first semester at the Center for Basque Studies.  I have learned a lot about Basque culture, including the rich history of Basque cuisine.  In an attempt to broaden my perspective past an obsession with Basque wine, I decided to indulge my taste buds in a dessert more typical of Iparralde: Gateau Basque.

I stumbled upon this recipe through NPR, where both the cream-filled and the jam-filled versions  are provided.  Since raspberries were on sale, I substituted them in as the jam and they were quite delicious!  However, the cream-filled pastry was my favorite as it couples even better with coffee in my opinion.  And, as mentioned within the recipe attached below, the cakes can be distinguished from each other according to the design on top.  Apparently, the cross-hatch pattern usually indicates that the cake is jam-filled, while the cream-filled version has a cross fashioned on top.

I have to admit, the dessert was a hit at the CBS as we were all fueling up for finals.  Follow the link to create this delicious Basque treat!

To find out more on the history and why the Gateau Basque is so special, click on the link in which Nancy Zubiri at Euskal Kazeta  expounds more on this delicious dessert.

Gateau Basque1

cream-filled Gateau Basque


Gateau Basque

raspberry jam-filled Gateau Basque

Begoña Echeverria to discuss Hammer of Witches Friday, May 22, in Bakersfield

Begoña Echeverria will be discussing The Hammer of Witches: A Historical Novel at the CSUB Basque Studies Symposium 2015 on Friday, May 22, at 4:00 pm in the Music Building at CSU Bakersfield. The symposium will also see chef Aingeru Etxebarria prepare pintxos  and talk about contemporary Basque cuisine as well as a discussion of Basque tree-carvings in the Eastern Sierras by Nancy Hadlock and Richard Potashin. Information for anyone wanting to attend can be found here.

Hammer of witches

The symposium is part of the Kern County Basque Club’s 43rd annual Basque Festival.

Basque Children of ’37 Association UK

The Basque Children of ’37 Association UK seeks to preserve the memory of the experience of almost 4,000 children who were evacuated to the UK in 1937 from Bilbao.

Basque refugee children aboard Habana 2

Basque refugee children aboard the SS Habana, from, the website of the Basque Children of ’37 Association UK

In the spring of 1937, following the bombing of Durango and Gernika and with Franco’s troops on the brink of entering Bilbao and thereby defeating Basque resistance to the military uprising, the children were evacuated to the UK for their own safety. They were shipped aboard the SS Habana, which sailed from Bilbao on Friday, May 21, dropping anchor the following evening at Fawley, at the entrance to Southampton Water. On the morning of Sunday, May  23, the ship docked at Southampton, and the children were initially accommodated in a large camp at North Stoneham, Eastleigh. Later, they were dispersed to numerous “colonies” throughout the country.

Basque refugee children donation appeal

Funding appeal for Basque refugee children, from, the website of the Basque Children of ’37 Association UK

Some of these Basque refugee children were taken in by the Attenborough family in the city of Leicester. Two of the Attenboroughs’ sons would later go on to achieve international renown: Richard (1923-2014), as a film actor, director, and producer, who won the Best Director Oscar for the movie Gandhi (1982); and David (1926- ), as a broadcaster and naturalist, responsible for creating some of the most highly regarded nature and wildlife documentaries in the history of the genre. Here, in a site devoted to remembering Richard’s life, under the “Oral Histories” section, Albert Hall and Betty Holyland specifically recall the Attenboroughs’ experience with the Basque Children’s Refugee Committee in the late 1930s. The Attenboroughs’ involvement in taking in both Basque and (later, in  World War II) Jewish refugee children is also noted in a short bio of Mary Attenborough.

The Basque Children of ’37 Association also serves as a forum for discussion and to promote dialogue between the children themselves, their descendants, researchers, and any interested persons. It provides a bibliography and a photo gallery on the Basque refugee children and their experiences.

Additionally, there is a touching portrait of life for some of these refugee children in a series of photos here, together with a short accompanying text marking the 75th anniversary of their arrival in Carshalton (at the time in the county of Surrey, now a suburb of London).

The CBS publication  War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, addresses the themes of  war, occupation, and exile during the turbulent period from the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War to the conclusion of World War II. This collection of essays attempts to convey the upheaval from the perspective of ordinary people’s lives, examining the human impact of war and displacement.


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