This year marks the 25th anniversary of the notable Basque anthropologist, ethnographer, archeologist, and priest José Miguel de Barandiaran’s death. The Barandiaran Foundation has organized a series of five roundtable discussions in his honor entitled “Europe, Barandiaran and Values,” being held in various Basque capitals from October 20 to December 15.
Last Thursday, November 17, our professor and colleague Xabier Irujo participated in the event that took place in Donostia-San Sebastián at the Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea. Professor Irujo spoke about Barandiaran and exile via Skype, and members of the CBS and UNR attended, making it an international affair. He was joined by a panel composed of Asier Barandiaran, Argitxu Camus Etchecopar, Gaspar Martinez, and Ixone Fernandez de Labastida, who spoke about various topics including Barandiaran and Europe; Barandiaran’s values in contemporary society; Barandiaran, science, and faith; and lastly Barandiaran and Basque society. This group of scholars have participated in all of the events and are at the heart of this discussion series, traveling from city to city to present to and answer questions from the wider community.
The following are a series of quotes by the participants on what Barandiaran as a researcher represents in various fields:
ASIER BARANDIARAN- Barandiaran’s values in contemporary society
“Barandiaran was rooted in Christian values. However, on the other hand, he offered different visions by being in touch with diverse cultures and was always committed to people. He would often say ‘I hope I will be remembered as a person who has loved love’. Kindness, sharpness, honesty, solidarity, truth, justice, work well done, and a long chain of values are what define Barandiaran.”
ARGITXU CAMUS- Barandiaran and Europe
“José Miguel de Barandiaran was a convinced European. He learned French, German, and English on his own. When he was very young, he opened himself up to European science. He studied the most famous anthropologists, ethnologists, and linguists of the time. He went to the very sources of science in order to compare them to his own ideas. And since then, the Ataundarra took part in numerous courses in diverse universities throughout Europe, as a student and professor. The work of Barandiaran has contributed a great deal to European ethnology.”
GASPAR MARTINEZ- Barandiaran: Science and faith
“Barandiaran was primarily a priest. In addition, he was also an archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, historian…that is, a man of science. Even so, he was able to reconcile religion and science. A difficult exercise, considering the strict postulates of the Catholic Church of the time. Even though the studies carried out to clarify his doubts were based on research by people of faith, Barandiaran, in order to achieve absolute tranquility, wanted to place his ideas at the same level as other researchers of different beliefs.”
IXONE FERNANDEZ DE LABASTIDA-Barandiaran and Basque society
“One of the most studied facets of José Miguel de Barandiaran is that of him as an anthropologist. However, with the passage of time and in light of the historical context in which he developed his work, Barandiaran could also be considered a social activist. Thanks to his particular methodology and its object of study, this anthropologist contributed not only to mitigation of the discourse on the race coming from Europe but also to the reconstruction of social ties and the feeling of shared cultural identity in Euskal Herria.”
XABIER IRUJO- Barandiaran and Exile
“Joxe Migel Barandiaran lived for 17 years in exile in Iparralde, in Miarritze first and later in Sara. During these years, he collaborated and at times led the group of vascologos and euskaltzales who met in these early years of exile, and most fundamentally after the liberation, who then received the name ‘Los caballeritos de San Juan de Luz’. Among the most outstanding works of Barandiaran in exile are the creation of Ikuska, Eusko Jakintza and the ‘Jakin Bilerak’, which helped to consolidate the network of Basque scholars of the diaspora in America.”
Overall, the event was a fantastic way to learn more about Barandiaran and his work, making it a fitting homage to the prolific and wide-ranging scholar who did so much for Basque culture and history.
To learn more about the series, visit the Barandiaran Foundation’s website: http://www.barandiaranfundazioa.eus/index.php/es/
See, too, the Selected Writings of José Miguel de Barandiarán: Basque Prehistory and Ethnography, edited by Jesus Altuna. This is a marvelous introduction, in English, to Barandiaran’s published work and the various fields in which he researched, from Basque prehistory and mythology to essays on the importance of the household and hunting in Basque culture.