Month: October 2016 (page 2 of 3)

October 10, 1799: Humboldt’s first visit to the Basque Country

On October 10, 1799 the renowned Prussian philosopher, linguist, and statesman Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) set foot in the Basque Country for the first time. It was the beginning of an association with the Basque people, their land, their culture, and especially their language, which would demarcate much of his later thought on the relationship between language, culture, and identity.

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Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). Lithographic print by Franz Krüger. Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Humboldt is a key figure in the academic study of language, in which he was among the first linguists to contend that languages are systems governed by specific rules, and is considered a forerunner of the linguistic relativity hypothesis (namely, that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ worldview). These ideas fitted in with his own thoughts on the nascent discipline of anthropology, which for him could only be understood in comparative terms. What’s more, in his later capacity as an educational administrator, he also devised a holistic concept of education that sought to ground students in both the sciences and the arts through a comprehensive general education: a system that survives to this day in many aspects of Western education.

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In the introduction to Humboldt’s Selected Basque Writings, Iñaki Zabaleta Gorrotxategi describes this first encounter between Humboldt and the Basques:

Humboldt’s first visit to the Basque Country lasted no more than one week: specifically, from October 10–18, 1799. This short stay was part of a longer “Spanish tour” that he took with his entire family, and that lasted more than seven months. It should be borne in mind that, by that time, the fundamental principles of his comparative anthropology had already been formulated, and that this is what led him to give tangible expression to his project by means of an extended trip through southern Europe. Humboldt’s initial plan was to visit Italy, but a variety of circumstances led him to design a new tour that mainly involved travel within Spain. It is important to note that Humboldt’s encounter with the Basques during this first trip was by no means accidental or undertaken as a result of some perceived external obligation. Instead, the visit had been carefully planned and eagerly anticipated by Humboldt. In fact, as part of his meticulous preparations for this trip in Paris, Humboldt developed a specific interest in the Basques, and especially in their language. This interest is reflected in a letter that he wrote to Schiller on April 26, 1799: “At the very least, one can safely say that it is the only country in Europe that has a genuinely original tongue. . . . And the grammar of this language is of supreme interest.” Some six months later, Humboldt set foot in the Basque Country for the first time and, despite the brevity of his visit, the land, and its people and their language, made a deep impression upon him. But the most important impact of his trip was that it led to Humboldt’s appreciation of the link between “human beings” and “human language” (that is, between nations and their respective languages) and to the beginnings of a reorientation of his anthropological research toward linguistic matters. On December 20, 1799, Humboldt wrote to the philologist Friedrich August Wolf from Madrid: “I think that, in the future, I am going to devote my energies even more exclusively to the study of language.”

Humboldt’s Basque experiences are documented in detail in his highly evocative Selected Basque Writings: The Basques and Announcement of a Publication. If you are interested in Basque history and culture, do check out this book. Humboldt’s fine eye for detail, coupled with a lively writing style, makes this work a wonderfully stimulating account of not just Basque culture a s whole, but also many individual Basques, on the cusp of a social transformation into the modern era: it is, arguably, one of the most important documentary accounts of Basques.

CBS students presenting at the Galena Creek Visitor Center: Don’t miss out!

Join CBS students Amaia Iraizoz, Kerri Lesh and Edurne Arostegui at the Galena Creek Visitor Center (http://www.galenacreekvisitorcenter.org/) this Sunday, October 16, from 10-11AM,  as they present on various aspects of Basque migration, return and diaspora. The event is open to the public and will give attendees the chance to not only learn more about the Basques, but also get an inside look into three of the Center’s graduate students’ research.

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Arostegui will kick off the presentation, talking about Basque migration in general, but focusing on the Basque experience in the West and how they got there. Iraizoz will then speak about certain cases of return migration to the Aezkoa Valley, in Navarre. Lesh brings the presentation to the present, discussing aspects of cultural maintenance in the diaspora through Basque gastronomy. All three bring their expertise on these subjects, as they are pursuing them for the doctoral dissertations.

For more information, please visit: https://allevents.in/reno/the-history-and-culture-of-basque-sheepherders-in-the-great-basin/303664853352059

Nafarroa Oinez 2016 video: Check it out!

A few weeks ago we posted the video for the ikastola fundraiser day in Gipuzkoa (click here to see that). This weekend, October 16, it’s the turn of Nafarroa to host its own fundraiser; this year, Nafarroa Oinez will be held in Viana and will be raising funds for the ikastolas of Viana and Lodosa.

The slogan for this year’s event is “Hartu, tenka, tira!” (Pick up the rope, take the strain, pull!) and refers to the referee’s commands in a tug-of-war contest. It was chosen to represent all the effort and commitment required in disseminating Basque-language education. So come on everyone, let’s all pull in favor of Basque! Check out the video!

 

 

Arbasoen Ildotik: 6th Grade Students from Baigorri visit Far West to learn about Basque settlement there

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A group of 6th grade students from Baigorri in Lower Navarre are on the trip of a lifetime to the American Far West in a quest to understand what it meant for Basques to uproot and make new lives for themselves across the Atlantic. Titled “Arbasoen ildotik” (On the trail of our ancestors), the expedition is made up of the following students who all attend the Donostei school in Baigorri: Laina Aizpurua, Alaia Arangoits, Maialen Innara, Enaut Gorostiague, Ana Gouffrant, Iñaki Hualde, Morgan Labat, Mathias Lallemand, Leatitia Oronos, Pauline Perez, Céline Séméréna, and Viktoria Toro. Accompanying them are four teachers: Amaia Castorene, Danielle Hirigaray, Xantxo Lekumberry, and Christine Paulerena. During their stay they will visit several locations in California and Nevada, where they will study first-hand the Basque emigrant/immigrant experience in the US.

For more information, see their Facebook page here.

And to get in contact with them send an email to slobasque@aol.com

There is a comprehensive list of Basques who emigrated from Lower Navarre to the United States in the Center’s Basques in the United States, volume 2, Iparralde and Nafarroa, 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.

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Book Review: Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, by William A. Douglass

We’d like to share a recent review of William A. Douglass’s new book Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean. Published in CritCom: A forum on research and commentary on Europe, Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, a PhD candidate in Human Rights at the University of Deusto,  outlines the structure and content of the book, pointing out interesting aspects of Douglass’s new research endeavors.

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Here’s just a sample of the review:

“Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, by William Douglass introduces the reader to how Basques from a tiny territory once pivotal for the whole Iberian Peninsula (comprising the Kingdom of Navarra, later absorbed by Spain, as well as Bizkaia, Guipuzkoa and Araba regions) became an important part of the Spanish colonial empire as administrators and merchants, as well as ship-builders, ship captains, and sailors.

Basque explorers took an active part in Spanish expeditions and explorations on the Pacific region (and elsewhere in the world). From the early Spanish expeditions overseas, Basques were among those who helped establish and sustain the Spanish Empire. They played integral roles, whether as ship captains and crew members, or the leaders of successful trade companies and rulers as Spanish proxies in colonial administrations.

Douglass’s Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean is an interesting and detailed lesson of the period’s history, despite some moments of digression over royal intrigues, which condense into a single book the dispersed knowledge on the role of the Basques in the Pacific, serving as a good guide for future discussions.

Going further from the general choosing of describing an explorer’s life, or an expedition’s fate and accomplishments, Douglass seeks to insert different explorers and explorations in a unique context, relating at least two centuries of Spanish naval explorations (and Portuguese) with the formation of the Spanish Empire and its subsequent decline.

The book, one can conclude, broadens the knowledge of the participation of Basques in the making of the Spanish maritime empire that would last for centuries.”

We encourage you to read the entire piece at the following website: http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/basque-explorers-in-the-pacific-ocean-2/

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To learn more about Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, visit his Academia page, which includes links to some of his research papers: https://deusto.academia.edu/RaphaelTsavkkoGarcia

Last but not least, check out Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean:

Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean

 

Maitia nun zira? New documentary about Basque prisoners in World War I

A short documentary titled Maitia nun zira? (Where are you, darling?) has just been presented by the Euskal Kultur Erakundea (Basque Cultural Institute) and Mondragon University (MU). Made by two  MU students, Elena Canas and Ainara Menoyo, the documentary is based on original recordings, made during World War I , of Basque prisoners of war from Iparralde being held by German forces.

The recordings were made between 1915 and 1918 by the Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission, a special body established by Kaiser Wilhelm II to record the different voices–and, indeed, languages–of prisoners of war being held by the German forces. The Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission visited more than 70 camps between 1915 and 1918, recording more than 250 languages and dialects as they attempted to draw an oral map of Europe.

In 2014, recordings of soldiers speaking and even singing in Basque were passed on by the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and Humboldt University in Berlin to the Basque Cultural Institute in Iparralde. This amazing fragment of an important part of Basque history is available online and we encourage you all to take a look. Even if you don’t know any Basque, it’s still an incredibly moving testament. The documentary includes both the original recordings themselves as well as a number of well-known Basque figures reading out transcripts of the soldiers’ thoughts and wishes, and reflecting on what they have read.

For more information on the project click here (Basque) or here (French).

Condor Legion Exhibition and Documentary in Elgoibar, Gipuzkoa

The group Elogoibar 1936 held an exhibition in September on the Condor Legion and its decisive intervention in the Spanish Civil War to mark the 80th anniversary of the entry of fascist troops in Elgoibar.

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This was the 28th stop of the traveling exhibit since May 2013, which has been shown throughout the Basque Country thanks to Baskale, a Basque-German cultural association based in Bilbao.

The graphic exhibition is entitled “… a complete success for the Luftwaffe. The destruction of Gernika by the Condor Legion. The past and present of a Nazi crime in the war of 36/37.”

The exhibition, which consists of 16 information panels, is based on an investigation by the  regional history group “Arbeitskreis Regionalgeschichte,” based in a town near Hanover in northern Germany. The airbase where the German elite squad, later called the Condor Legion, was created is located in this town. In the 80s, the group began to go to the military archives in Germany and managed to gather information that until then had been hidden and covered under a blanket of silence.

The exhibition is characterized by providing the German point of view in its historical relations with the Spanish state and is not limited to describing the facts of the bombing of Gernika. It begins by recounting historical events, such as the military cooperation between Germany and Spain before Franco and Hitler in the Rif War or the secret illegal rearmament of the German forces after their defeat in World War I. It makes clear that Franco had Nazi support from the start, without which it would not have been possible to transport his troops from Morocco and Tenerife to the Spanish mainland. It continues to describe the Condor Legion operation on the Northern Front and devotes a chapter to the bombing of Gernika. The use of the newly created Air Force (Luftwaffe) under the conditions of war served as a practice ground for the systematic testing of people and equipment in light of the already planned World War II. In the bombing of Warsaw, Coventry, Calais, etc., experienced pilots of the Condor Legion were listed as instructors. The last panels of the exhibition speak of the lies about the bombing of Gernika, “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso, and encounters with Nazi veterans until the 80s, closing with the demand for political condemnation and a debate on the issue of a necessary reparation for the damage caused.

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The documentary CONDOR LEGION: Past and present of a Nazi crime was screened at the opening of the exhibition in Elgoibar. This documentary was made based on the Baskale exhibition held in 2014 with assistance from the Basque government. Interesting points about the birth of the German military and its role in the bombing of Gernika are revealed, taken as a field of experimentation for a future World War. The following experts from Germany, the Basque Country, and Spain were involved in the documentary:

Oiane Valero, historian and researcher

Hubert Brieden, historian and researcher

Angel Viñas, historian, economist, and diplomat

Ingo Niebel, historian and journalist

Xabier Irujo, historian and philologist- Professor at the CBS

Baskale’s work is based on the three principles of the Historical Memory movement: Truth, justice, and reparation. The main objective of the exhibition and documentary is to provide the truth about the Condor Legion and its war crimes, providing a framework for discussion that aims to learn from history so as to not repeat it.

The Baskale association denounces the historical impunity of the crimes committed by the Condor Legion, which systematically spread terror and panic among the civilian population of the more than 30 villages bombed in the Basque Country, also responsible for thousands of deaths in the Spanish state and in the many countries attacked during World War II.

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The documentary can be watched online, using the following links:

Spanish: https://vimeo.com/125135092

Basque: https://vimeo.com/130355642

German: https://vimeo.com/130350555

October 3-5, 1968: The Arantzazu Congress and the Creation of Standard Basque

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The Sanctuary of Arantzazu, in Oñati, Gipuzkoa. Image by Keta, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the Fall of 1968 one of the most important ever meetings was held regarding the fate of the Basque language. Organized by Euskaltzaindia, the Royal Academy of the Basque Language, the Arantzazu Congress in Oñati, Gipuzkoa, was designed as a forum in which to debate and discuss the possibility of creating a unified or standard version of the Basque language from among its rich and diverse dialects.

The leading Basque-language experts of the day gathered that October to work out a suitable model on which a potential Euskara Batua (Unified Basque) could be based. The meetings within the congress were often heated and arriving at agreement was by no means a smooth process. There was clear resistance on the part of many influential thinkers to creating such a unified model. Yet many others, including the leading theoretician of the day, Koldo Mitxelena, believed that Basques needed a standard version of their language–something that, at the end of the day, the “big” cultures had already implemented in previous centuries–for Basque culture itself to survive.

In addition to the specific subject of the congress itself, one should also remember the wider context in which it was held: 1968 was the year of major civil unrest in Paris and this had a significant effect on the rest of Europe; there was widespread protest against the Vietnam War; and, more generally, social turmoil, protest, and change were sweeping across the old continent, with the Basque Country also experiencing the beginnings of a major social, cultural, and political upheaval in what would ultimately prove to be the final years of the Franco dictatorship.

The dramatic and often highly charged story of how standard Basque was designed and later successfully implemented in wider society through education, the media, and literature, all remarkabaly within the space of a generation, is recounted by Pello Salaburu in Writing Words: The The Unique Case of the Standardization of Basque.

See, too, other Center publications on the Basque language:

The Dialects of Basque by Koldo Zuazo  charts the diversity of the Basque language in its dialects but, as the author contends, mutual comprehension among native speakers is not as difficult as has been previously contended.

Basque Sociolinguistics by Estibaliz Amorrortu examines various dimensions of the Basque language and its role in Basque society as a whole, including a chapter on the use of Basque in the United States. Download a copy free here.

The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi, is a multiauthored work that explores a wide range of topics associated with the challenges implied by encouraging a bilingual society: from how to implement this idea in legal terms to language-use in education and the media.

Any reflection on the Basque language must include some consideration of the work of Koldo Mitxelena: Koldo Mitxelena: Selected Writings of a Basque Scholar, compiled and with an introduction by Pello Salaburu, is a marvelous English-language introduction to the prodigious contribution of Mitxelena to the study of Basque.

 

Dale Erquiaga, CBS board member and new President and CEO of Communities in Schools

Dale Erquiaga, a member of CBS advisory board, is relocating to Washington D.C. to take up the post of President and CEO of Communities in Schools, an organization dedicated to student achievement, keeping kids in school and aiding educators by providing resources.

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A native Nevadan and Basque-American, Erquiaga has served on our board for several years. He has been the Chief Strategy Officer for Governor Brian Sandoval and the State of Nevada since 2015, with prior experience in education as Superintendent of Public Instruction and various consultancy jobs in policy development and communications. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science here at UNR and a Master’s in Leadership from Grand Canyon University.

It is great to see Basque-Americans taking up major posts at a national level. He is sure to contribute his extensive experience to this organization and we look forward to hearing more news about this new chapter in his career.

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To learn more about Communities in Schools, visit: https://www.communitiesinschools.org/

For more information about Erquiaga’s new post, read the following press release: https://www.communitiesinschools.org/press-room/resource/communities-schools-names-dale-erquiaga-president-and-ceo/

 

 

Amama screenings begin today, don’t miss out!

AMAMA: When a tree falls (2015), director Asier Altuna’s latest film, will be shown and followed by a Q&A session at various cities throughout the United States. The tour kicks off in Boise today at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center.

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Altuna, born in Bergara (Gipuzkoa), has gained critical acclaim for his films, including a nomination for Best New Director at the Goya Awards in 2005 for his debut film Aupa Etxebeste. Amama won the Irizar Prize for Basque Cinema at last year’s San Sebastian International Film Festival.

The film is a story of tradition confronted by change in a rural Basque family farm. When the eldest son decides to move away instead of inheriting his father’s farm and way of life, the daughter, Amaia, tries to convey, while also understand, the necessity for change to her father, Tomas. Both sides are highlighted in the film, celebrating customs and tradition while grasping the need for progress. The visual landscapes are haunting in an alluring way and symbolic throughout. Watch the trailer here:

Be sure to go to one of the showings, it’s bound to be worthwhile!

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