Month: August 2017 (page 1 of 3)

Ongi Etorri to the 2017-2018 academic year at the Center!



We are so excited for the beginning of the 2017 Fall semester at the William Douglass Center for Basque Studies! This year we will continue offering undergraduate and graduate classes in many aspects of Basque culture. We would like to welcome Mariann Vaczi, who is joining the faculty and will be teaching a course on Basque Transnationalism in the United States. More about Mariann joining us will come in its own post, but in the meantime we for sure want to say welcome!

This semester, we are offering 5 courses:

 

Elementary Basque

Instructor: Kate Camino

Introduction to the language through the development of written and conversational language skills and through structural analysis. Emphasis on Unified Basque but includes an introduction to the dialects.

 

Contemporary Basque Politics

Xabier Irujo

History and legal status of Basque Politics within Spain and the European Union with particular emphasis on Post-Franco nationalist movements and party development.

 

Museums, Architecture, City Renewal: The Bilbao Guggenheim

 Joseba Zulaika

Introduction to the complex architectural, museistic, local/global, artistic, political and epistemological issues presented by the first global museum in its first franchise.

 

Basque Culture

Sandy Ott

Survey of the culture of the Basque, including occupations, cultural institutions, oral traditions and art, as well as their transformations in emigrant settings such as the American West.

 

Basque Transnationalism in the United States

Mariann Vaczi

Theories of globalization, social identity, diaspora foreign policy, identity construction, and nationalism are utilized to compare Basque individual and institutionalized ethnicity in the United States.

New documents about Juan Sebastian Elkano available online

Juan Sebastian Elkano (1476-1526)

As we noted in a previous post, Juan Sebastian Elkano (also spelled Elcano) led the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522. Yet as a recent report in El Diario Vasco suggests, the figure of Elkano remains very a mystery. Two serious fires in 1597 and 1836 the archives of Getaria, his home town, destroyed much of the information about Elkano. Last year, however, eight important documents were discovered that have come to shed more light on this major Basque historical figure.

These documents were discovered during an initiative to reorganize the archive of the Lardizabal family, the owners for centuries of the Laurgain Palace in Aia. They are administrative in nature and provide an insight into Elkano the person, his preoccupations and interests. They also include a key letter written by Elkano to King Carlos I following his return to Europe.

See the full report (in Spanish) here.

These documents have been digitalized and are now available online via the Basque National Archive here.

Elkano is a key figure in Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean by William A. Douglass.

What’s in a Song? Agur Xiberoa

Agur Xiberoa (Farewell Xiberoa) is one of the canonical songs in the Basque songbook, simultaneously a lament to the impact of enforced displacement as well as a testament to the powerful connection between people and place.

It was written in 1946 by Pierre Bordazaharre, also known as Etxahun-Iruri (1908-1979), from Iruri in Xiberoa (today known as Zuberoa). During his compulsory schooling (through age 13) Etxahun-Iruri was a good student and displayed a special interest in literature, becoming an avid reader for the rest of his life. Opportunities for humble rural people, however, to develop such interests further beyond the end of their school years were few and far between at the time and having finished his formal education he carried on the family farming tradition.

This did not prevent him, though, from taking an active part in Basque culture: he was involved in both the maskaradak and pastoralak, two key expressions of Basque culture in Zuberoa. Additionally, he also authored and helped to revolutionize the pastorala in the twentieth century, introducing more specifically Basque themes into the art form; and he was an accomplished xirulari or pipe player, wrote poetry, and was a bertsolari or improvising oral poet.

Agur Xiberua is a lament, the story of the enforced displacement many inhabitants of the province were forced to undertake in search of work and better opportunities than their homeland could offer. It stands as a testament to the cultural importance of Basque exile more generally, although its cheery tune also serves to celebrate the memory of homeland, family, and friends.

The chorus captures all of this perfectly:

Agur Xiberoa                                                            Farewell Zuberoa,

bazter güzietako xokhorik eijerrena          the most beautiful place on earth;

agur sor lekhia                                                         farewell, native land,

zuri ditit ene ametsik goxuenak                    my sweetest dreams go to you

bihotzan erditik                                                      from the bottom of my heart;

bostetan elki deitadazüt hasperena          I have often heaved a sigh,

zü ützi geroztik                                                       since I left you;

bizi niz trixterik                                                       I live in sorrow,

abandonatürik                                                         abandoned,

ez beita herririk                                                      for there is no city,

Parisez besterik,                                                    except Paris,

zü bezalakorik.                                                       which is your equal.

Some of the themes mentioned here, such as the new emphasis on Basque instead of more generically religious or French themes in the cultural expression of the pastorala as well as the impact of emigration from Zuberoa, are discussed in detail by Igor Ahedo Gurrutxaga in The Transformation of National Identity in the Basque Country of France, 1789-2006.

*Information sourced for this post from Orhipean, The Country of Basque.

Nevada Independent reports on Basque culture in the Silver State

On the occasion of Attorney General and CBS Advisory Board Member Adam Laxalt’s annual Basque Fry, the Nevada Independent recently reported on the Basque presence in the state and included some great personal recollections on the part of state senator Pete Goicoechea, part of which we quote below:

His grandfather, also named Pete Goicoechea, worked on a fishing boat on a seaside town on the Bay of Biscay until he immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century.

When his grandfather landed at Ellis Island, they pinned a tag on his coat that said “Elko, Nevada” and put him on a train, Goicoechea said. He couldn’t speak a word of English, couldn’t read or write but could figure out anything in his head. (“If you were talking about a nickel, he’d cheat you out of three cents,” Goicoechea said.)

“It was a hard life for them. A lot of them spent the first year before they had enough money in a tent with their sheep,” Goicoechea said. “There was no (Bureau of Land Management), no regulation at all. There’d be a group of them, the Goicoechea brothers and their families, they lived with those sheep from somewhere south of Duckwater close to Tonopah for winter and the Idaho border for summer.”

His grandfather ran moonshine for a period in Gold Creek during Prohibition, finally settling down and buying a ranch in 1937 and switching to cattle. “Sheep may be a little more delicate, but they have a personality,” Goicoechea said. “If you can run sheep, you can take care of a bunch of cows.”

Check out, too, Goicoechea’s observations about the emblematic Picon Punch!

See the full report here.

Immigrant tales like those mentioned above form the essence of the Center’s ambitious collection, Basques in the United States,  by Koldo San Sebastián, with the assistance of Argitxu Camus-Etxekopar, Joxe Mallea-
Olaetxe, Jone Laka, and José Luis Madarieta.

August 22, 1777: Basque writer Joan Antonio Mogel comes up before Inquisition

Joan Antonio Mogel (Also spelled Moguel, 1745-1804) was a priest and writer, and the author of what is generally considered to be the first novel in Basque, the full title of which–El Doctor Peru Abarca catedrático de la lengua vascongada en la universidad de Basarte o Diálogos entre un rústico solitario bascongado y un barbero callejero llamado Maisu Juan–is typically shortened to Peru Abarka.  Although written by the turn of the century, it was not published until 1881.

Born in Eibar, Gipuzkoa, he was ordained in 1770 and appointed the parish priest in nearby Markina, Bizkaia. During his time in Markina, however, he was accused of improper behavior with a young woman and was obliged to declare before a trial of the Inquisition on August 22, 1777 in Logroño. Following the inquiry, he was charged with improper conduct and although the prosecutor called for a prison sentence, he was instead sent to a retreat in Milagro where he began to write in earnest.

Mogel’s work, with representative texts, is discussed (pp. 391-401) in Anthology of Apologists and Detractors of the Basque Language, edited by Juan Madariaga Orbea.

 

 

 

Heading into the Fall, here’s a recap of our summer publishing!

It has been an extremely busy summer here at the Center press, and now that students, new faculty and grad students are trickling in, we thought it would be a great idea to just quickly recap our summer publishing season!

Might post more on these individually, but just want to gather them together like a family portrait!

Bitter Justice: The Penitentiary of El Puerto de Santa María and Its Basque Dimension, 1936-1949

By David Lyon

ISBN 9781935709800

$32.00

Incarceration of political enemies was a principal strategy for repression by the Francoist regime during the Civil War and Franco’s early rule and El Puerto de Santa María, in Andalusia, was a major prison. Bitter Justice tells the story of some of its prisoners, focusing on the Basque dimension and based on newly cataloged prison files, interviews with family members of prisoners, and research in Cádiz and Basque archives. The book tells the story of these prisoners: their charges, sentences, and conditions of release, which were generally more stringent for Basque prisoners than others. And El Puerto contained more Basque prisoners than all the other Andalusian prisons put together. In addition, Bitter Justice considers important interrelated issues: El Puerto’s background including conditions and treatment of its inmates; Basque prisoners’ conditions; a presentation of collective memories of Basque prisoners’ relatives relating to the prisoners’ lives before, during, and perhaps as important, after their return to their communities. The book also presents case studies of “offenders” and analyzes any inconsistencies of sentences, charges, and release conditions that affected Basque and Cádiz prisoners. This research shows that prison irregularities, and discrimination against those convicted from the Basque Country, were normal. This history, the first of its kind, sheds a new light on the terrible early repression of the Franco regime and its effect on many lives.

 

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors

by Maite González Esnal

$16.00

ISBN 9781935709855

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors is an epic ramble through space and time—from the modern day Fryslân, The Netherlands, to the Basque Country in the years of privation after the Civil War. The stories are precise and radiant, thoughtful and emotional. They are filled with memorable characters: a Good Samaritan who offers coffee and registers birds, and who is, in his own words, “the master of my sounds, I only hear birdsong”; the railway man, Jean, whose true calling is his garden; and many more. Through these stories the narrator shines, illuminating with her inner musings, memories, and recollections both large and small. In turns contemplative, active, reflective, and expansive the result is a collection that glitters and resounds. Although it resists definition—being part travelogue, memoir, short story collection, and more—it is always filled with insight, stunning imagery, and a deep and wide heart.

 

Far Western Basque Country

by Asun Garikano

$31.95

ISBN 9781935709787

The experience of Basque immigrants to the United States has come in many shapes and forms, and Asun Garikano takes nearly all of them into account in this comprehensive look at the lives of the ordinary men and women who made the brave journey to the US West in search of a better life. Although their experiences were very diverse, one commonality was the aid they received from fellow Basques. They were often met at the dock in New York City with the familiar sound of their language and helped to find a place on the transcontinental train with their names and destinations pinned to their coats. They worked at ranches, farms and businesses often owned by people from their same hometowns. They found conversation, fellowship, and cheer at boardinghouses where they shared the games, drinks, language, and food of their homeland. In Far Western Basque Country these and many other stories are told about the individual immigrants that made up the Basque diaspora in the United States. Some stayed, some returned, some lost money, some became rich and powerful. They adopted their new homeland and its ways. They fought in its wars, celebrated its highs and suffered its lows, but in the face of it, they all remained Basque.

A Man Called Aita

By Joan Errea

$15.00

ISBN 9781935709824

A Man Called Aita is Joan Errea’s loving, moving, heartfelt, and honest tribute to her father, Arnaud Paris—aita is the Basque word for “father.” But it is so much more than that: it is the continued story of her mother, also told in Joan’s book My Mama Marie; it is the story of her brothers Arnaud, Mike, Johnny, and Pete; of her adored Uncle Otto; of ranch hands; and of dogs and goats and sheep and horses and cattle. Written in beguilingly simple rhymed verse, the story is not simple, nor is it entirely carefree—there are deaths, injuries, losses great and small, disease, trials and tribulations. There is humor, there is love, there are grand personalities written across the western landscape. At its heart is a tremendous loss that has been felt by all who have lost a beloved parent. Beyond its deeply personal story, this book is also a testimony to the ranching way of life in the Western United States and the place of Basques within it. Written in the style of the Basque bertsolari, and taking as inspiration her father, who was also a troubador of this oral tradition, the small book you hold in your hands is a true gem of the West.

With an introduction by Pello Salaburu.

The International Legacy of Lehendakari Jose A. Agirre’s Government

Edited by Xabier Irujo and Mari Jose Olaziregi

$32.00

ISBN 9781935709817

This book, the result of an extensive international gathering of scholars from many different disciplines and countries, explores the fascinating life of Jose Antonio Agirre (1904–1960), the first lehendakari or president of the Basque Country. A charismatic figure that in many ways transcended the bitter political divisions of the age he lived through, Agirre’s legacy serves as a timely reminder of how maintaining one’s political, social, and cultural convictions need not necessarily serve as a barrier when it comes to promoting dialogue, cooperation, and diplomacy. A Basque nationalist but also an internationalist and strong advocate of an integrated Europe, Agirre’s biography reads as a testament to the mid-twentieth century experience of war and exile, and the chapters herein explore his life in both Europe and the Americas against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the coming of the Cold War.

The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia: In the Time of Major Crises

Edited By Joseba Agirreazkuenaga and Xabier Irujo

$35.00

ISBN 9781935709749

The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia seeks to analyze Basque fiscal systems in the context of the 2008 financial crisis. It also aimed to develop a comparative vision with the state of Nevada and Catalonia. It treats the politics of finance in multi-level public institutions during the economic crisis; long-term fiscal policies for dealing with economic downturns during the past twenty years; the development of treasuries in federal states, in non-federal states and in complex unions (Europe); taxation and citizenship in a globalized world; long-term trends for dealing with the crisis and strategies for the future in European and North American contexts (the Basque Country, Catalonia, Spain, Ireland, and Nevada). Most of the book’s contributions by distinguished scholars and public officials relate to the Basque Country, providing an analysis of fiscal policies or the evolution of public finances. A contribution on taxation and gambling is also offered. This book serves as a new contribution to studies on fiscal federalism in Europe and America. We hope that these reflections serve as a turning point to promote debate and for the formulation of future research. Fiscal analysis is now an important research line at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque studies, promoted and in cooperation with the regional government of Bizkaia, with the end of promoting research in a comparative perspective.

The Basque Moment: Egalitarianism and Traditional Basque Society

Edited by Xabier Arregi Gordoa and Andreas Hess

$32.00

ISBN 9781935709732

The discussion of egalitarianism goes to the very heart of Basque identity. The purpose of this book is to explore the concept, and to investigate whether egalitarianism is only a myth or ideology or whether there is some real substance and practice to it. This book approaches the topic of Basque egalitarianism from a broad range of disciplines and sub-disciplines, including social and contemporary history, sociology, political science, social anthropology and political philosophy. It also brings together people of different political conviction, spanning the divides that often occur when Basque traditions and ideas are discussed.

Traditional Basque Sports Explained in Short Video

Herri kirolak–traditional sports–are one of the defining features of Basque culture. Many of these sports developed out of everyday chores like chopping wood or lifting heavy objects. Neighbors would then challenge each other to informal feats of strength and/or stamina and out of these challenges, the custom of betting on the outcome developed. Nowadays these challenges take place in organized settings, typically during local fiestas for example, and involve formal, regulated competitions.

Check out the following short video from Iparralde that explains in brief form a gathering of competitors in various Basque sports in the town of Donapaleu (Saint-Palais) in Lower Navarre.

The Center has published books on several aspects of sports in Basque culture. See, for example, Basque Pelota: A Ritual, an Aesthetic by Olatz González Abrisketa, and Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport, edited by Mariann Vaczi.

The Basque Country in Statistics

Whatever the level of interest you may have in the Basque Country, whether professional or scholarly or more informal or personal, there are several online resources that offer a wealth of statistical information to facilitate a better understanding of the basic structure of Basque society.

Gaindegia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing social and economic information about the whole Basque Country, Euskal Herria. Likewise, Atlasa, a related initiative, seeks to collate and present this same information in map form.

The Basque Statistical Office, Eustat, meanwhile, serves as a key source of information about the Basque Autonomous Community as does its counterpart in Navarre, (Na)stat.

If you’re interested in this kind of information, be sure to check out Basque Economy from Industrialization to Globalization by Mikel Gómez Uranga (free to download here) and Basque Society: Institutions and Contemporary Life by Gabriel Gatti, Ignacio Irazuzta, and Iñaki Martínez de Albeniz (free to download here).

 

August 12-13, 1912: 112 Basque fishermen die in sudden storm

On the evening of August 12, 1912, as they were accustomed to doing every day, the fishermen of several ports along the Bizkaian coast set out in small 40-50 feet boats to fish in the waters close to their homes. This was a form of coastal rather than deep-sea fishing, a typical Basque practice and one intimately linked to the traditional culture of Basque fishing communities as a whole. It had been a mild day with a warming southerly wind, but all of a sudden, as the evening drifted into night, there was a dramatic change, and a cold northerly wind came in from an area of low pressure in the far North Atlantic, around Iceland: an unprecedented phenomenon for that time of year.  The air temperature fell dramatically, and the sea became increasingly more squally.

At the time a number of these boats were approximately 45-50 miles off of the Bizkaian coast. This would have been just about the moment they were thinking of returning to port with their evening catch, but instead they got caught up in the storm, which carried on ferociously all night and into the morning of August 13. The boats could not cope with such appalling conditions and many sank.

On shore, people realized that their loved ones and neighbors were in danger, and an appeal was made to send out rescue launches, but between the terrible conditions at sea and the time it was taking to alert the authorities in Bilbao, help was not immediately forthcoming.

In total, there were 143 recorded deaths, most of them fishermen from Bermeo, but including others from Lekeitio, Elantxobe, and Ondarroa. A memorial service was held for all the dead on August 23 in Bermeo, to which King Alfonso XIII also came.

The tragedy marked a watershed moment in fishing practices and techniques in the Bay of Biscay.

Check out the following two-part video about the tragedy, recreating life in fishing communities at the time (in Basque):

Basque writer Kirmen Uribe selected for fall residency in prestigious Iowa writing program

The Basque poet, writer, and essayist–as well as CBS author–Kirmen Uribe has been selected this fall for the University of Iowa’s prestigious International Writing Program, “a unique conduit for the world’s literatures, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, bringing international literature into classrooms, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, and serving as a clearinghouse for literary news and a wealth of archival and pedagogical materials.” Moreover, Uribe will attend the program thanks to the support of the Etxepare Basque Institute.

Check out the full list of participants, including Uribe and with writing samples, here.

Kirmen Uribe is the author of CBS publication Garmendia and the Black Ridera children’s adventure story set in the Old Wild West.

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