Month: March 2016 (page 2 of 3)

In Honor of St. Patrick’s Day: The Irish Connection in Bizkaia

To mark St. Patrick’s Day, let’s take a look at a little-know dimension of Basque history: the Irish connection in Bizkaia. At the outset I’d like to acknowledge the short but highly informative study by Amaia Bilbao, The Irish Community in the Basque Country c. 1700-1800, from which the following information is taken.

From the mid-seventeenth through the eighteenth centuries different waves of Irish immigrants came to Bizkaia (mainly Bilbao), having abandoned their native land in search of asylum and new economic opportunities. While slow at first, immigration levels picked up and were especially significant in two periods, 1720-1730 and 1750-1760. Thereafter, immigration levels fell off and by the end of the eighteenth century had been reduced to fairly insignificant numbers.

The first Irish immigrants, though lesser in number than later arrivals, were higher in social status and their arrival coincides with a period roughly between the late seventeenth and early to mid-eighteenth century. They were members of the clergy (mainly Dominican priests) and the Catholic landed class fleeing religious and political turmoil in their native land. This social elite came from long established dynasties (like the Madan, Power, Geraldin, Browne, Morgan, and Grant families) in County Waterford in southeast Ireland. These families were in the main Jacobites – loyal to Catholic King James II and the Stuart royal house in opposition to first the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and later  William III from the Orange royal house.


Uniform and colonel’s flag of the Hibernia Regiment, Irish exiles in the service of the Spanish crown. mid-eighteenth century. A. Valdés Sánchez, Brown University Library, Madrid. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Most of these high-ranking Irish families fled first to France with James II, and only later settled in Bizkaia. Some retained their status by entering into the service of the Spanish army (which, like France, had an Irish Brigade) but most went into trade and later industry, including the Shee, Power, Archer, Laules, Moroni, Joyce Browne, Linch, and Killi Kelly families. Indeed, it was these Irish families that helped to develop the tanning industry in Bizkaia and subsequently encouraged the second-wave of Irish immigration: craftsmen.


A barrel or drum used to tan hides, Igualada Leather Museum, Barcelona. Photo by Joan Grifols. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Specialist Irish craftsmen began arriving in Bizkaia, especially in and around Bilbao, in the mid-eighteenth century, attracted by the opportunities established by their compatriots above all in the tanning industry. This second wave was made up of people of more humble social status. They brought specialist skills and innovative techniques with them. The typical profile of this Irish immigration was that of two or three brothers, who quickly made a name for themselves in the tanning industry as is the case of the Doran, Savage, McDermott, and O’Moran brothers. Social and family networks were then established to encourage further immigration.


Luis Paret, View of El Arenal in Bilbao  (c.1783-1784). Google Art Project. Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By the mid-eighteenth century, only the French outnumbered the Irish in number when it came to foreign merchants residing in Bilbao. While they were especially prominent in the tanning sector, the Irish were also important cobblers, blacksmiths, watchmakers, and master builders. Most of the tanners settled in what were then the separate towns of Begoña and Abando (today neighborhoods of Bilbao), as well as in Barakaldo and Arrigorriaga. Some exceptions to this Bilbao-centered settlement were Pablo Conningham, who resided in Durango in 1763 and Juan José Doran in Balmaseda.

Throughout the eighteenth century, the Irish community in Bizkaia maintained its distinct cultural identity through in-marriage with both the Irish diaspora community as a whole, especially in Spain, France, and Portugal, but also with families back in Ireland. Such links also served a commercial purpose in the Atlantic trade between ports like Cádiz, Lisbon, and Bilbao. The maintenance of this distinct identity was also the result of some reticence, and even hostility, on the part of Bizkaians toward these incomers, who were labeled with the pejorative term chiguiris. Such differences were reinforced legally–especially in the early part of the century–by restrictions being applied on all foreigners making it difficult to acquire citizen status in the Seigniory of Bizkaia (a measure strongly linked to a policy of thwarting commercial competition from people from outside the seigniory).

Gradually, though, and especially with Irish immigration toward the end of the eighteenth century waning, the distinct nature of the Irish community in Bizkaia began to weaken. First, Irish families were by now long-established in Bizkaia and felt a bond with this new land.  At the same time Bizkaians also appear to have become more accepting of their presence. Through the eighteenth century, one sees joint Irish-Basque companies formed in Bizkaia. In 1752, for example, a company supplying meat to Bilbao, Begoña, Deusto, and Abando was established by Matías Welldon with the Bizkaians Echezarraga and Andirengoechea. Welldon, the Irishman, was the only tanner of the three and he would receive the animal hides for his tannery. Second, by the late eighteenth century, the Irish association with the tanning sector was being challenged by a new wave of skilled immigrants in that sector from the Iparralde and Béarn. And finally, the whole sector itself began to decline as a result of new tax measures introduced by the Spanish crown in 1779.

This resulted in declining Irish immigration and the combination of these factors–greater socioeconomic integration and declining Irish immigration–meant that by the nineteenth century the Irish in Bizkaia lost their distinct identity and were integrated into Bizkaian society as a whole. This integration involved fairly mundane acts like changing surnames (some straightforward such as Everard to Everardo, but others more creative like Murphy to Morfil), but its also included the joining of important merchant clans, such as the Power Larrea and Archer Velasco families. But it also took place among the more humble social classes. And members of the Irish community came to occupy important positions in Bizkaia. For example, Patricio McMahon was appointed Cabo de Barrio (a kind of cross between mayor and principal law enforcement official) of Abando in 1778.

By the nineteenth century, then, the Irish community in Bizkaia had to come to demonstrate a classic pattern of immigration and assimilation. But it is worth recalling the contribution of the Irish to this little-known part of Basque history, especially on a day like today.

Happy San Patrizio eguna or St. Patrick’s Day everyone!


Dr. Sandra Ott’s Presentation of Living with the Enemy at University of San Francisco

Wednesday, March 23rd, Professor Sandra Ott from the  Center will be presenting her new book Living with the Enemy, from 2:00-4:00 pm in McLaren Conference Center at the University of San Francisco.  Professor Ott has spent significant time in Pau, France, performing research and as one of her students, I have learned much more about the Nazi occupation of France during World War II and the various roles that the Basques performed during this time period.

enemy (1)

We congratulate Sandy on her publication and all the work that goes into it! So please attend if in the area, enjoy some refreshments, and enjoy learning about this particular time in Basque history.




Tales from Basques in the United States: How Basques saved the Paiute cutthroat trout

We continue today with our occasional series on the sometimes offbeat or downright quirky stories in the 2-volume work, Basques in the United States, with principal research by Koldo San Sebastián, and with the assistance of Argitxu Camus-Etxekopar, Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe, Jone Laka, and José Luis Madarieta and more.

Basques in the US vol 2

From the Wikipedia description here, the Paiute cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris) is one of fourteen subspecies of cutthroat trout native only to Silver King Creek, a headwater tributary of the Carson River in the Sierra Nevada, in California. This subspecies is named after the indigenous Northern Paiute peoples. Today, Paiute cutthroat trout are endemic to and protected within the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, but they would have disappeared altogether were it not for Basques! Here, then, is theis amazing story adapted from the biography (abridged from the original entry in Basques in the United States, volume 2) of Jose “Joe” Jaunsaras:

He was born in Irurita, in the Baztan Valley of Nafarroa, on Oct. 7, 1893 and emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City on Mar. 21, 1912. He went to Reno to join his brother Martin. In 1920 he was herding sheep in the Smith Valley, Lyon Co., Nevada. In 1930, he was a sheepherder in Simpson. From ca. 1917–22 he also worked for W. S. Conwell of Coleville in the Carson Iceberg area of California, where he and another herder, Jose “Joe” Azcarraga (b. Lekaroz, also in the Baztan Valley of Nafarroa, 1891) are credited for saving the pure strain of the Paiute trout.

It happened near Llewellyn Falls, where a severe downpour had disrupted the creek bed, leaving a bunch of fish dying in a small pool of water. The two Basque herders took a number of them in a bucket and transplanted them higher up in the creek where there was enough water. The trout mixed with other species in the creek. Only the ones transported in the bucket by the two herders proved to be the pure strain. Today, there is a wooden sign by a trail in the Toiyabe National Forest that tells the story of the Paiute Trout. One day California Fish & Game officials paid Jaunsaras a visit. They wanted to fly him back to where the Basques were herding sheep to show them exactly the place where they saved the trout, but when Joe saw the helicopter, he thought it was a big mosquito, and refused to get in!

We intend for this work to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US.

If you’d like to share your own family stories with us, please click here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.


Catalonian buzz for That Old Bilbao Moon’s Spanish edition


“Joseba Zulaika’s book, recent Euskadi Prizer Winner in Essay, is a powerful song that tracks the conscience of a generation.” [Side bar text]

The Spanish edition of Joseba Zulaika’s The Old Bilbao Moon continues to make waves after taking home the 2015 Euskadi Prize for Essay. In the Catalonia edition of major Spanish daily newspaper El País, Mercé Ibarz glowingly reviews La vieja luna de Bilbao. Ibarz writes, “its best quality is for me is its expressive and compositional liberty. It is a book of memories and at the same time a an urban psychogeography of the sustained collective desire to change one’s life and one’s city that reads like a novel.” Great praise for a great book!

Congratulations on this great review, and if you haven’t picked up your English copy (or Spanish) you should and you should read this terrific book!

March 7, 1875: Composer Maurice Ravel born

On March 7, 1875, renowned Basque composer Maurive Ravel was born in Ziburu, Lapurdi. Regarded by many at the height of his fame, in the 1920s and 1930s, as the greatest living composer in France, he died in 1937.


Maurice Ravel in 1925. Photo in the Bibliothèque national de France, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ravel is discussed in Cameron Watson’s Modern Basque History: Eighteenth Century to the Present (pp. 250-51), available free to download here:

      Maurice Ravel Delouart was born in Ziburu (Ciboure), Lapurdi, to a Swiss father and Basque mother (“Delouart” is the Gallicized version of the Basque “Eluarte” or “Deluarte”), and went on to become one of the twentieth century’s most famous composers and the clearest exponent of Impressionist music. Classically trained in Paris, he blended classical forms with both Basque and Spanish folk elements–the Basque zortziko rhythm, in particular–to produce some of his most memorable work. (Perhaps the most recognizable of his compositions, by the end of the twentieth century, was Bolero.) He was not a folklorist in the proper sense, however.

While Ravel unquestionably represents modern French culture, he never forgot his Basque identity. This was increasingly the case after the death of his mother in 1917. H. H. Stuckenschmidt observes: “of the two heritages given to Maurice Ravel, the Swiss-Savoyard of his father, the Basque of his mother, the latter prevailed throughout his life. … Ravel was a Basque in all that directly affected his work and his person. He consciously cultivated his Basque reactions.”

Interestingly, as the Wikipedia entry notes here, Ravel declined not only the prestigious Légion d’honneur but all state honors from France, refusing to let his name go forward for election to the Institu de France. He did, however, accept foreign awards.

See a performance of Ravel’s Bolero here. The opening movement of Ravel’s Piano Trio is, as he noted himself, “Basque in coloring.” Listen to the trio here.

If you’re interested in Basque connections to classical music, check out Basque Classical Music by Karlos Sánchez Ekiza, free to download here, courtesy of the Etxepare Basque Institute.


Tales from Basques in the United States: The Tragic Case of Txomin Malasechevarria

We at the Center are really proud to have published the monumental 2-volume work, Basques in the United States with principal research by Koldo San Sebastián, with the assistance of Argitxu Camus-Etxekopar, Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe, Jone Laka, and José Luis Madarieta and more. We intend for this to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US. Welcome, then, to an occasional series on some of those lives, with a special focus on more striking or offbeat stories.

If you’d like to share your own family stories with us, please click here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.

Basques in the US vol 1

While we rightly seek to celebrate the success stories, it’s also worth recalling (at least from time to time) the less pleasant or unfortunate side of some of these individual tales, if only to emphasize just how hard it was for some folks to get ahead in their new lives. Here, then, is the tragic biography (abridged from the original entry in Basques in the United States, volume 1) of Domingo “Txomin” Malasechevarria:

At precisely 6 am on Nov. 13, 1952, the doors of the new gas chamber in the State Prison near Carson City, NV, were closed. Inside, tied to a chair was a 58-year-old Basque sheepherder, Domingo Malasechevarria (his last name had been changed to Echeverria). At 6:08 am gas fumes spread throughout the chamber and the culprit passed out immediately. At 6:20 am Doctor Richard Petty pronounced him dead.

Domingo Malasechevarria Yturraran was born on the “Erreka” baserri in Gizaburuaga, Bizkaia, on May 12, 1892, one of 7 brothers and sisters. Following a well-established tradition in the village, Domingo arrived in New York City on Mar. 7, 1912. He was 19 years old. With him traveled a large group of Basques (from Berriatua, Lekeitio, Deba, Amoroto, Markina, and also from Gizaburuaga). Domingo headed for Paradise Valley in Humboldt Co., NV, where two of his brothers, Antonio and José Mari, lived. In 1917 he worked as a sheepherder for Alfonso Pascuale, a major local stockman. According to his draft file he had no objections to being drafted into the US armed forces, and in 1930, according to the US Census, he continued living in Paradise Valley. During those years he also herded sheep in Douglas Co., NV. But things were not going well. His brothers had returned home, and had settled down more or less, while he was fighting loneliness in the Nevada desert. Domingo’s disposition was turning sour. He had become antisocial and a loner.

His ruin began at the famous Martin Hotel in Winnemucca in northern Nevada. One afternoon in Jul. 1947 he got into an argument with another Basque, Claudio Yturriaga. In a fit of madness, Domingo struck his countryman on the head with a garden hose. Later he told the police that he had hit his companion because “he had not passed him the bread.” Malasechevarria was at the time 52 years old and was by all accounts very strong. Yturriaga, meanwhile, born in Ereño, Bizkaia, was 63. He had to be taken to the Humboldt General Hospital and later moved to San Francisco for further specialized treatment. As a consequence of his injuries he ultimately had to give up his job with the Western Pacific Railroad (he had been a sheepherder before). He died of a heart attack a few years later on Nov. 6, 1956 and is buried in Winnemucca. Malasechevarria, meanwhile, was found guilty of assault and condemned to two years in prison. Further, he had to compensate Yturriaga with $5,000 plus he had to pay court costs.

Before his provisional release from jail two years later, he underwent psychiatric evaluation at the Nevada Mental Hospital in Sparks (Reno Evening Gazette, Oct. 10, 1947). Totally broke and with a reputation for violence, none of the stockmen wanted to hire him. Soon he had become a vagrant that wandered around Humboldt Co., living off charity and scrounging handouts from fellow Basques. In Sep. 1951 he was interned in the poor and destitute section of Humboldt Co. General Hospital.

That same month, on Sunday, Sep. 23, he locked himself in the bathroom and refused to come out. In turn, an orderly had the door opened but in doing so, Domingo struck him on the wrist with piece of piping that he had manged to unscrew from the plumbing, and ran away down the hallway. Still running, he entered one of the rooms hitting a patient (Tony Robinson) three or four times. At that moment nurse Elizabeth Catlett showed up and he struck her twice, killing her instantly. Doctor Hartoch, the superintendent of the hospital was the first to arrive on the crime scene. When he arrived Mrs. Catlett and Mr. Robinson were on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood.

Malasechevarria was with them, crouching like an animal. He was looking down at the floor with the bloody iron bar in his hands. He tried to attack the doctor, who defended himself with a chair. Finally, Doctor Hartoch, Peter Pedroli, a businessman from Winnemucca, and Phil Erringer, a hospital nurse, succeeded in restraining him. Police said that the Basque calmed down when he was locked up in a cell, acting as if nothing had happened (Nevada State Journal, Sep. 25, 1951).


Domingo “Txomin” Malasechevarria

On Sep. 25 District Attorney Callahan formally charged Domingo Malasechevarria with the murder of Elisabeth Catlett, 59 years old, and of Thomas Robinson, 86 years old. In the official document of the charges the DA emphasized that during the crime, Echeverria, “a man of great strength, was not mad (criminally insane).” During the preliminary hearing of Oct. 1, the sheepherder explained to the judge the reasons for his behavior: “That morning I was laying in bed when Mrs. Catlet came in and closed the window. I got up and opened it. She returned and closed it. I told her that she had better not close my window again. Later Mrs. Catlett came with her husband [the orderly] to yell at me while I was in the bathroom.” The judge asked him if he had anything else to add. “They didn’t used to give me enough laxatives. They only gave it me once a week. If I asked for more and they used to scold me. I couldn’t sleep and they refused to give me sleeping pills. I asked the doctor four times for sleeping pills and the doctor told Mrs. Catlett to give me a pill to sleep. That night she gave me a sleeping pill that was not a sleeping pill. They didn’t give me a laxative or any medicine for my stomach. They were always after me, attacking me.” On Oct. 17 the Basque sheepherder appeared before the district judge Mervin Brown and he pleaded not guilty. The judge assigned him the lawyer Donald Leighton as the public defender. Domingo was charged only with the murder of Nurse Catlett, and the trial date was set for Nov. 5 (Nevada State Journal, Oct. 18, 1951).

From the very beginning Nieves Dufurrena was the Basque-English translator. She was a native Nevadan, married to a Basque, and her parents were from Ea, Bizkaia (her maiden names were Legarza Erquiaga). She was a well-known woman in Winnemucca, active in the (Catholic) parish and in many social events. A few years later she became the first secretary of the local Basque Club. Nieves was fluent in the Bizkaian dialect and didn’t have any problem communicating with Domingo. The county sheriff, Derbert Moore, was in charge of selecting the jury. Of the 60 men, 13 were Basque, namely: Peter Albisu Jr (McDermitt), Audrey Etchegoyen, Chas Ugalde, Sylvester Urigüen, Pete Etchart Jr. (Winnemucca), Frank Bidart (Leonard Creek), Peter Lecumberry, Frank P. Garteiz, Pete J. Laca (Winnemucca), Fermín Gavica (Paradise Valley), Domingo Arangüena, Frank Bengoechea, and A. P. Garteiz. The last one selected was Domingo Arangüena Bengoa, a Winnemucca barber. His father was from Munitibar and his mother from Ispaster. Moreover, Fermín Gavica was on stand-by.

After the selection of the jury, the trial began. The prosecutor called the witnesses, the most important being Dr. Hartoch, who explained how he was able to contain the Basque until help arrived. T. Critzer, another patient, said he saw the nurse fall down by his feet. Herb Daniels, a Winnemucca policeman, said that he asked the Basque why he had committed the deed. The answer was: “It doesn’t matter. Better that she is dead.” For his part, the defense lawyer claimed “madness” (Nevada State Journal, Nov. 6, 1951). Finally, on Nov. 10, 1951 the jury found Domingo Malasecheverria guilty of the murder of the nurse and sentenced him to die by gas chamber. The death sentence was handed down by the district judge, Mervin Brown, and the execution was to take place in Carson City’s state prison. He similarly decided to deny the possibility of a repeat trial.

According to one report of the trial, “Echevarria looked more calm during the reading of the sentence than at any other time during his arrest. For the first time he appeared in court without an interpreter, even though earlier he had said that he did not understand English.” After Judge Brown imposed the penalty, the Basque sheepherder turned to Leighton, the public defender, and with something that looked like a smile, told him: “Good, this means the gas chamber.” (Nevada State Journal, Nov. 11, 1951; The Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 11, 1951). Leighton did hid his utmost to save the life of the defendant, submitting a clemency petition before the State Pardons Board, and at the same time an appeal to a higher court, which delayed the execution (Nevada State Journal, Jan. 19, 1952; Ogden Standard-Examiner, Jan. 26, 1952). Both petitions were turned down, setting the definite date of execution for Nov. 26. On the eve of the execution, according to the warden, the Basque rejected all the perks of people condemned to death, such as being able to talk to someone or any special wish. He did not have supper, although he did at all times have the company of two Catholic priests who were there until the last moment (Reno Evening Gazette, Nov. 13, 1952; Nevada State Journal, Nov. 14, 1952).

The execution was witnessed by Warden Art. E. Bernard and Doctor Richard A. Perry, as well as five upstanding citizens of the State of Nevada. One Basque was present, John Etchemendy, who at the time managed the Overland Hotel in Gardnerville. The doctor’s execution report is frightening:
NEVADA STATE PENITENTIARY (Carson City, Nevada, Nov. 13, 1952)
The prisoner enters the chamber: 6:00 AM.
He is tied to the chair: 6:02 AM.
Door is closed: 6:04 AM.
HCH gas hits him in the face: 6:08 AM.
Apparently unconscious: 6:08½ AM.
Definitely unconscious: 6:09 AM.
No longer breathing: 6:11 AM.
Heart stops: 6:20 AM.
Ventilator comes on: 6:25 AM.
Body taken out of the chamber and his death is certified: 6:51 AM.

Malasechevarria was the second oldest person to be executed in Nevada to that date. Warden Bernard declared to the press that “the gas chamber worked perfectly” (Nevada State Journal, Nov. 14, 1952).

Basques in the United States author Koldo San Sebastián also discusses this particular case (click here to read his post, in Spanish). For San Sebastián, the word that most summed up life for Basque sheepherders was solitude. Not for nothing, he notes, is the Basque Sheepherder Monument in Reno, a sculpture by Nestor Basterretxea, titled “Solitude/Bakardade,”  and that very loneliness was perhaps the greatest hurdle to surmount for Basque arrivals in the New World. He continues by quoting from a study of Robert Laxalt’s classic Sweet Promised Land by Gorka Aulestia: “feelings of solitude, melancholy, nostalgia, sadness, and notions of effort, struggle, danger, [and] work run through the book. The solitude of the sheepherder who lived, lost (in some cases going crazy), up in the mountains of Nevada.”

Spring 2016 Basque Multidisciplinary Seminar Series

Spring 2016 lecture series

Please join us at the Center for our Spring seminar series. Everyone welcome!

More lauburu sightings…in the Yucatán, Mexico (and some thoughts on the Basque presence in Latin America)


The original entrance gates to Hacienda San Francisco Teacalha just outside of Dzidzantun. Photo by Byron Augustin (with permission).

A few months ago we published a post on surprising sightings of the lauburu, and we were recently made aware of a series of great articles, at the Yucatan Living website, about further sightings of this iconic Basque symbol outside the Basque Country.


Hacienda Santa Maria with Ron and Dee Poland standing between the lauburu-adorned gate posts. Photo by Rebecca Augustin (with permission).

Guest writer Byron Augustin, a retired university professor who lives in Valladolid, Mexico, authors the fascinating three-part “Ancient Symbols in the New World,” which includes some great lauburu photos taken in the Yucatán, Mexico. Click on the links below to read the article and see many more lauburu images:

By part III of this series, the focus actually shifts to the Basque presence in Latin America more generally and here at the Center we’d like to encourage our readers to check out these fascinating stories and we congratulate Byron for his outstanding contribution!


Hacienda Yaxcopoil. Photo by Byron Augustin (with permission).

In author Byron Augustin’s own words (via a personal communication): “My wife, Rebecca, noted that in Mexico we are sure that we have passed lauburu and did not even know it.  For example, we have lived in Valladolid for eight years, and the last lauburu we sighted was on a colonial house we drove by practically every day of the year.  As she pointed out . . . it is like hunting for wild mushrooms, you have to be really focused to find the lauburu.  However, we are convinced that we have only scratched the surface of finding lauburu and that is just in the Yucatan.  Basques played a significant role in many regions in Mexico especially in mining towns, so I am convinced they are out there.  In addition, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries had major Basque influence and I am sure there are lauburu in those countries too.  I really just stumbled on to the research and was amazed at the role the Basques played in opening the New World to settlement.  I doubt that ninety-nine percent of Mexicans have any knowledge of the importance of the Basques in the development of their country. Unfortunately, many lauburu in Mexico are most likely being lost because of a lack of awareness regarding their historical significance.”

Amaia Iraizoz presents on “The Diaspora and the Perception of the Basques in the American Press”

On February 25th, Amaia Iraizoz, a grad student at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies, presented at the Universidad de Navarra‘s Tecnun campus in Donostia-San Sebastian (that has an exchange with the University of Nevada, Reno).  She spoke on the Diaspora and the Perception of the Basques in the American Press.

The presentation was given within the class of Basque Language and Culture, which is offered by the Department of Basque Language and Culture at the University.

Amaia will be returning to write her dissertation next school year after completing her fieldwork.  We miss you Amaia and hope you are doing well!


March 8: In Honor of Basque Women on International Women’s Day

Here at the Center, on the occasion of International Women’s Day–whose theme this year is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”–we’d like to take the opportunity to honor Basque women through the ages by sharing with you some of the posts we’ve done this past year on Basque and Basque-American women, and to look ahead to the future.


World renowned rock climber Josune Bereziartu

In the past few months we’ve looked at the lives of an eclectic group of Basque women, from figures of historical significance like the swashbuckling Lieutenant Nun, Catalina de Erauso, one of the first Basque photographers Eulalia de Abaiatua, and pioneering physicist and meteorologist Felisa Martín Bravo, to contemporary sportswomen who enjoy international renown such as Edurne Pasaban and Josune Bereziartu as well as Basque chanteuse Anne Etchegoyen.


The remarkable Yolande Betbeze  Fox (1928-2016)

On the other side of the Atlantic, our attention has switched to an ongoing series devoted to prominent American women of Basque descent, which to date include the recently deceased “Basque spitfire” Yolande Betbeze Fox; fashion icon Norma Kamali; philanthropist extraordinaire Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen; all-round renaissance woman Jauretsi Saizarbitoria; talk show host supreme Cristina Saralegui; and eminent academic Jeri Echeverria.

Hammer of witches

We’ve also reviewed some of our own publications that explore women’s themes in many different and complex ways, such as the moving biography My Mama Marie and innovative anthology Ultrasounds: Basque Women Writers on Motherhood as well as the novels The Hammer of Witches and Zelestina Urza in Outer Space. The female voice and memory, meanwhile, permeate Arantxa Urretabizkaia’s novel The Red Notebook. And don’t forget that one of our textbooks, Basque Gender Studies, is free to download (just click here).What’s more, many other stories of Basque women are included in the 2-volume work, Basques in the United States with principal research by Koldo San Sebastián, with the assistance of Argitxu Camus-Etxekopar, Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe, Jone Laka, and José Luis Madarieta and more. And we hope to share some of these stories with you in the months to come.

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