Month: October 2017 (page 1 of 2)

In her own words: Iratxe Antonio-Agirre

Iratxe Antonio-Agirre was among the visiting scholars we had at the CBS this summer. For this introduction, we have the chance to read about her experience in her own words.

My name is Iratxe Antonio-Agirre. I was born in Legazpi, a little village located in the southern area of Gipuzkoa, but I have been living in Vitoria-Gasteiz since I was a child. I am a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) where I try to convey my passion for teaching to my students.

I was granted a mobility scholarship for a five-week research stay at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC). Knowing of the existence of the large Basque American Community residing in Nevada, it seemed natural for me to contact the Center for Basque Studies at the UNR in order to better understand the Basque diaspora.

Along with Prof. Dr. Estibaliz Ramos-Díaz, a colleague from the University of the Basque Country, we collected data about the emotional and resilience strategies used by undergraduate students to promote their school engagement. I truly believe that this collaborative research between the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of the Basque Country will lead to a broader knowledge of the well-being of future students. We hope to establish the different processes involved in feeling more engaged in university academic tasks both in U.S. and in the Basque Country.

As a part of my research stay in the UNR, the Center for Basque Studies played a key role in establishing contact with other faculties and researchers interested in our study, as well as in helping us communicate some preliminary findings to the local scientific community. And not only that, the hospitality of the Center for Basque Studies staff made us feel like home, always helping us with everything we needed, always making us welcome.

Of course, I enjoyed the U.S. and Reno! No doubt about it. I remember with much affection the riverside, the dips in the Truckee during hot days, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, some meaningful conversations in the company of good friends, The Lincoln, Gardnerville, Pub N’ Sub, that improvised lunch at Louis’ Basque Corner, the incredible views of the Sierra… But in the end, what I miss the most is all the people I have had the chance to meet.


Eskerrik asko, Iratxe for writing this beautiful reflection. We had a blast having you around and can’t wait to see you again. Zorte on with everything!

Interviews with Naiara and Virigina, USAC Visiting Scholars

This summer, we had quite a few visiting scholars at the CBS, thanks to USAC stipends for professors to research abroad. First up, I’d like to introduce Naiara Ozamiz and Virginia Guillén Cañas, professors at the University of the Basque Country.

Naiara Ozamiz is a Doctor in Psychology and Professor of Medical Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the Basque Country. She has worked as a psychotherapist in different day units with patients with personality disorders and psychosis. She has mainly specialized in group psychotherapy, although she has also performed individual and family psychotherapies. In 2013, she defended her dissertation on Personality Disorders in the DSM-5. She has published several articles on attitudes towards treatments, personality disorders, psychiatric emergencies, and the elderly.

Virginia Guillén Cañas has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and has researched eating disorders. Although she studied Psychology, she is not a therapist, although she is versed in Gestalt Therapy. She is a Professor of Psychology and Communication Skills to medical students, as well as dentistry and physiotherapy students, in the Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, Department of Neuroscience, in the area of Psychiatry. Spending most of her time in the Basque Country working on research and other scholarly projects, she researches health improvement and enjoys teaching healthy habits about addictions and gender empowerment, working with children and women.

We took a minute to catch up with them, giving them a chance to reflect on their experience at UNR and Reno more generally.

What brought you to the Center for Basque Studies and UNR?

Naiara: The University the Basque Country offers USAC scholarships every year to be able to go to universities in the United States. I was interested in learning about the University of Nevada and requested the scholarship. Before going, Iker Saitua, (Ph.D. who carried out his doctoral dissertation at the Center for Basque Studies) recommended me to approach the Center. I was also interested in UNR’s Medical School and the Psychology Faculty.

Virginia: I stayed in Reno and UNR for a month thanks to a USAC grant. I chose Reno because of the existence of the Center for Basque Studies.

 

What was the goal of your research?

Naiara: One of the objectives of getting to know the different faculties at the University of Nevada has been to learn about the way they teach, their investigations and their clinical work in different areas.

Virginia: My objective was to search for  opportunities to meet with other colleagues, and I knew that the Center for Basque Studies could assist me in planning my research abroad. I wanted to acquire and refine my medical and scientific knowledge and then apply it through medical education and evidence-based treatments for people, especially those with mental illnesses.

 

What did you accomplish?

Naiara: In the area of teaching, I have been able to see the teaching curriculum of the Medical School, and their teaching methodology. I have been fortunate to be able to attend medical classes. With the methodology and material that the faculty has shown me, I will be able to apply it in the classes of psychology that I give in the Faculty of Medicine.

Virginia: We have worked in the translation of the three questionnaires for measuring communication skills:  a Cognitive and Affective Empathy Test and one on Social Abilities. It was a good chance to adapt and publish these scales into English, since they are only validated in Spanish and Basque. We hope to carry out this research at UNR and University of the Basque Country.

Naiara: As far as research is concerned, the Medical School has given me several ideas to investigate, and maybe, in the future, we will do joint research. Furthermore, the Writing Center has helped me to write scientific articles. As far as the clinical area is concerned, the University of Nevada, Reno has a psychology service for teachers and students, and I found its operation very interesting. At the University of the Basque Country, there is a similar service but in Nevada, they have many more resources, and I would love to take that magnitude to our university.

Virginia: We will go deeper in optimizing the clinical cases given to students after analyzing UNR’s organization of medical curriculum.  Also, their website has additional information about the curricular structure, http://med.unr.edu/ome/curriculum/structure, and about the cases of the week, http://med.unr.edu/ocf/involvement-opportunities/case-of-the-week. Melissa Piasecki has a very interesting book that we will try to translate into Spanish, so we will keep in touch. We will look into congresses about suicide in Europe, where she will attend and collaborate with other groups in preventing suicide.

I have revised three publications at the Writing Center. One publication is about Communication Skills, another one about eating disorders, and last one about Diabetes. I hope to publish them in the next months. The Writing Center is very helpful for Spanish speaking people like myself to write correctly in English.

Did the Center for Basque Studies help you in any way?

Naiara: Above all, I have been helped by the workers at the center. They informed me of different resources that the University has, and of Nevada in general. I have learned about Basque and American culture, and I took several excursions with them. There is nothing like getting to know the country and its history, especially with historians! I am very grateful and they are excellent people.

I have felt more comfortable at the Center for Basque Studies since it has been like being at home. They have taught me about the Basque studies that are being done at the Center and I have learned a lot about Basque history in the Basque diaspora. At the moment, I’m dedicating myself to translating psychology questionnaires into Euskera and I’m trying to write the maximum possible articles in Euskera. The workers at the Center have inspired me to continue doing this work, since their great knowledge in history gives meaning to the work being done in favor of Basque.

Virginia: Visiting the Center for Basque Studies has been very useful because of resources such as the Writing Center, Savitt Medical Library, Summer sessions and the Nevada Historical Society. Also, it was a place where I could share research projects where Basque-speaking people are compared to Spanish and English speaking ones.

I would not have gone to Reno without the help of the Center for Basque Studies. I felt at home, and Edurne and Iñaki explained to us political and social aspects about the way of living and we had conversations comparing American and Basque people. This is very important for adapting there.

I will keep in contact and inform the Center if any research fulfills the objectives of the Center and the University of the Basque Country.  There are three possible projects to collaborate on: Sport in the Environment of National Minorities, Communication Skills in Medical students: Bilingualism and Gender Differences (Third sex), and Adapting a test for measuring eating disorders in Basque, Spanish and English males with eating disorders.

 

Did you enjoy U.S.? What about Reno!?

Naiara: I had a great time in Reno. I have learned a lot and I have loved meeting the people there. The USAC workers have treated me very well. It is an excellent organization. I did not miss anything.
Although the Reno casinos are a bit scary, Reno has some fabulous places. The whole walk along the river with its atmosphere, Louis’ Basque Corner, the Basque monument … and the surroundings are wonderful: Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, and all the trekking that can be done around Reno…
It has been wonderful, just remembering it gives me much joy and I feel like coming back. I feel very grateful for all the people I have met there, they could not have treated me better.

Virginia: Reno and the surrounding areas provide unlimited indoor and outdoor recreational activities. The most impactful aspect is that Reno has a great area full of casinos Downtown but the rest of the city is like any another one. Anyway, the distances are big so USAC offered us bikes and the bus timetables. I would recommend anyone to use them and also Uber, Taxis and UNR’s Campus Escort. The weather has been spectacular.

I liked Lake Tahoe a lot, and next time I would like to share a car or a van to visit the deep countryside of Nevada…for biking, camping, and mountain climbing. I also went to Colorado so I visited the mountains, and I would recommend that trip to everyone!

 

What did you miss the most?

Naiara: Nothing, I did not want to go back to the Basque Country. The only thing that made me go back was to meet my newborn nephew.

Virginia: Nowadays I miss my friends there. My stay was perfect!

 

We do hope you come back and visit!

Topeka by Asier Altuna: Of Men and Rams as Metaphors for Violence

 

We are pleased to announce that we are starting our Monday Movies series to present Basque short films and contemporary filmmakers! The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the CBS`s upcoming book publication Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!

 

Aurrera doan herria, a nation progressing, a nation on track.” Or is it?

What distinguishes the creative brand of Asier Altuna is the minimalism, visual potency, and poetic value of images strongly rooted in the Basque imaginary. The director eliminates dialogues and transmits, from a critical perspective, brief but powerful messages about society, humans, and their behaviors. Altuna uses an eminently Basque tradition, the ram fight, to speak in a metaphorical way about the duality between human beings and animals in a sick, violent and intolerant society whose members aim to destroy one another and themselves.

The film starts out with the traditional Basque ram fight. This pattern is broken by a brief shot of a man who suddenly hits the person next to him with his head, very much like the rams just did. The natural sound of the fiesta is substituted by the sound of the tambourine and the xtalaparta, Basque instruments of percussion whose beat strengthens the sensation of the blows. Altuna shows how humans have occupied the primitive place of animals; they do not only charge at the person next to them, but also foolishly hit their head against a stone wall when they can`t find another person to attack. Meanwhile, one of the rams escapes and, in a display of common sense that humans have just lost, he disappears where he belongs, nature. The duality proposed between the animal behavior of human beings and the human behavior of the animal is best visualized by the anthropomorphic sculpture ram by Ricardo Hernández.

It is almost inevitable to interpret these images as a metaphorical treatment of the Basque Country. It is particularly curious and ironic that the short film should open with an overprint that reads “Aurrera doan herria,” “a nation progressing, a nation on track,” a slogan borrowed from the Basque government at the time, whose Department of Culture sponsored part of the short film. Enjoy!

 

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/16310694″>TOPEKA</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3148570″>txintxua</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

 

October 7, 1936: First Basque Government Formed

The first Basque Government was created on October 7, 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The government was led by Jose Antonio Agirre and was based in Bilbao’s emblematic Hotel Carlton.

Agirre and other government members address crowd from balcony of Hotel Carlton

Given that holding elections was impossible on account of the outbreak of the civil war in July 1936, a transitional decree was approved whereby the councilmen of municipalities in territory not occupied by the military rebels would elect the first lehendakari or Basque president. They duly elected Jose Antonio Agirre unanimously at a meeting in the historic assembly hall in Gernika. Agirre subsequently formed the first Basque government from among his own Basque Nationalist Party as well as the other parties that formed part of the Popular Front, the democratically elected coalition governing the Second Spanish Republic that Franco’s military uprising was seeking to overthrow.

The importance of Agirre and the first Basque government were explored at a major international conference whose results were published in The International Legacy of the Lehendakari Jose A. Agirre’s Government, edited by Xabier Irujo and Mari Jose Olaziregi.

 

“Bringing Women out of the Shadows”

Basque migration to the Americas has been widely documented. From the 15-16th century Spanish colonial pursuits to the 20th century Franco dictatorship, Basques left the home country in great numbers to escape economic hardships and political turbulence in search of a better life. In the United States, the image of the lonely Basque sheepherder has become an important figure in the iconography of the American West, and Basque bars, restaurants, and cultural centers continue to thrive as descendants of the once ubiquitous Basque boarding houses.

Women, however, are conspicuously missing from the grand narratives of Basque migration, Ph.D. student Edurne Arostegui argued at her lecture at the CBS Seminar Series. “We need to make an effort to bring female immigrant experiences out of the shadows.” Even canonical works of Basque migration suffer from this lacuna, Edurne argued, while women came in great numbers, and worked just as hard as any man: they were sheepherders, boarding house managers, cooks, translators, housewives, bar tenders, and waitresses, etc. “Basque women immigrants are not given due credit as long as they are featured as mere appendices to their husbands who came to this country with no agency of their own. They did have their own dreams and aspirations about their new lives, and worked very hard for them.” Furthermore, the lecture featured pioneering women who affected gender breakthroughs by taking up traditionally masculine jobs like sheepherding or becoming pivotal figures, as leaders, in their communities. “We need to reach out to these women before their stories get lost,” Edurne concluded.

 

Graduate Dean’s Merit Scholarship: Zorionak Hito and Edurne

UNR’s Graduate School inaugurated a new fellowship and scholarship program for the 2017-2018 academic year. According to Nevada Today, “the Graduate School began offering the fellowships in an effort to recruit and retain highly talented students to the University’s graduate programs.” A reception was held on September 18, and I’m proud to announce that both Hito Norhatan and myself received merit scholarships this year.

Six incoming graduate students were selected for the $35,000 one-year fellowship. All hailing from different countries and academic backgrounds, David Zeh, Dean of the Graduate School, introduced each of them, as we snacked on cheese and crackers, fruit, and more, alongside glasses of champagne. Congratulations Mahamoud Amin Aboukifa, Isayas Berhe Adhanom, Katherine Chang, Grant T. Fairchild, Sarah Anne Moody, and Birendra Rana. I’m sure you will accomplish great things!

The Graduate Dean’s Merit Scholarship was awarded to 30 students, who have already embarked on their studies. The recipients were as varied as those for the fellowship. Hito and I celebrated alongside everyone, and I think we deserved a piece of the cake alongside our champagne flutes. I hope more students from the CBS get nominated for these scholarships. It is our chance to bring Basque Studies to the forefront of research!

Basque Ladies “Lagunak” Luncheon

 

Last Saturday, the 23rd of September, we celebrated the annual Basque Ladies Luncheon at the restaurant,  Louis Basque Corner. It is an essential event for all the Basque ladies in Reno and its surrounding areas. A unique occasion to gather together, and when there’s food on the table of a good restaurant, it is even better!

The event began at 11.30am, and the restaurant was pretty full when we arrived. The ladies, with their Lauburu necklaces -in all sizes and colors- were conversing,  laughing, and loving each other’s company, some of them, the bravest ones, were drinking Picon Punch. The talented ladies Judy Mendeguia and Joanie Test shared their beautiful handmade horseshoes and crosses with us, such beautiful and exceptional artwork made with so much love and passion. The Center for Basque Studies didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to show and share our latest publications with the ladies. The reception of our books was incredible, thank you so much!

Around noon we began having lunch, and the menu was delicious. The traditional Basque family-style lunch included soup of the day, French bread, Basque beans, salad, French fries, an entree, and a complimentary glass of house wine or a soft drink, and coffee. They set up an area for us and they treated us phenomenally.

Unfortunately, this lunch wasn’t the same without our beloved, Florence Larraneta Frye who was unable to attend. She is an amazing Basque woman who made the endeavor of the Basque Ladies Luncheon a reality, a dream come true. It is also worth thanking Kate Camino for maintaining the spirit and us ladies together.

Till the next time!

Monday movies: “The Raven” by Tinieblas González

We are pleased to announce that we are starting our Monday Movies series to present Basque short films and contemporary filmmakers! The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the CBS`s upcoming book publication Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!

In a mournful midnight, the writer Edgar Allan Poe tries in vain to entertain himself reading occultist books, and he constantly remembers his beloved Leonore, who died shortly before.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.

Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven

 

Tinieblas González and Karra Elejalde wrote the script of this short film on the basis of the American classic The Raven (1845), which catapulted its author, Edgar Allan Poe to fame. The adaptation keeps the same structure as the original poem.

The writer locks himself in his room, converted into a mausoleum, to dedicate his existence to the memory of the deceased woman. The music that evokes Leonor is associated with each of the apparitions of the beloved woman: the picture, the flashback and the hallucinations that torture Poe. This musical composition stands out for its subtleness. The room`s Baroque decoration features saturated red, resembling the iconography of the horror of Hammer Films. The cemetery evokes the suggestive imaginary of Monastery graveyard in the snow (1818-1819) by Caspar David Friedrich, the Romantic German painter, and its disturbing atmosphere is transferred to the forest that surrounds the mansion. Death transforms the woods into a sinister place where the branches of the trees reach toward the sky over a sea of snow. Poe is full of profound melancholy, and is lost outside on the fields. Leonor sends a seductive invitation to her husband so that he passes over to the other world.

Watch Part 1 and 2 here:

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Tinieblas González said this about about making The Raven:

The Raven had a design of excellent production, it was a short film that had a presence. I spent more than 19 million pesetas on it, and received a lot of criticism on part of some short film makers. They said that it was more like a feature film rather than a short film. Apparently, The Raven lacked the aesthetics of a short film. It was an accusation that did not at all correspond to reality. I had seen many short films at an endless number of festivals all over the world, and I knew that it was not the case. In spite of the criticism, people started to become enthusiastic, and invest more money in their short films. Nevertheless, all of this disappeared. The design of production is fundamental in a short film, but in the past years it has been rather neglected. Depending on the story it tells, cinema can be poor. But there are films that need to offer a spectacle. Because at the end of the day, for me, cinema has always been about entertainment. I don`t consider myself an artist, I consider myself a creator. A creator of ideas. I make films because I like entertaining. In fact, I think that cinema is first of all entertainment. And later, if a film stays in the annals of history, it may become a work of art.

 

 

 

 

 

October 1, 1910: Pioneering Basque aviator Benito Loygorri crash-lands in Donostia-San Sebastián

Benito Loygorri Pimentel (1885-1976)

Born in Biarritz, Lapurdi, but raised in Gipuzkoa, Benito Loygorri Pimentel was an engineer and a pioneering Basque aviator. At the age of 18 he witnessed one of the early flights by the Wright brothers in France, specifically in Pau, near the Basque Country, and Le Mans, and was captivated by the idea of flying. He subsequently became the first person in Spain to achieve an international pilot’s license in August 1910. Shortly after this, on October 1, 1910, he set off from Biarritz airport to give a flying exhibition above the city of Donostia-San Sebastián. Some 35 minutes after taking off, and with his girlfriend by his side, he entered the city and circled the bay.  Conflicting accounts exist on what happened next, but whatever the case, he landed the aircraft right there in the middle of the city on Ondarreta Beach, either intentionally or not. In “Benito Loygorri, primer piloto español,” Alejandro Polanco Masa quotes an article in the journal of the time Vida Marítima that stated: “he landed without any incident at all.” A contrasting report is given by José Delfín Val in “Un aviador pionero y su hermano, el ilustrador de novelas ‘picantes‘,” who writes that the plane, “crashed into the water on account of the engine cutting out near Ondarreta Beach.” Loygorri went on to have a long and eventful life, abandoning the burgeoning world of aviation in the 1920s to concentrate on a career in industry, most notably becoming the head of General Motors in Spain and Portugal. He died at age 90 and a commemorative stamp was issue in his honor in Spain.

 

Frank Bergon: Adventures of a Basque American Novelist

The Center for Basque Studies Multidisciplinary Fall Seminar Series has begun with a bang. We had the pleasure of having the acclaimed novelist and professor Frank Bergon give our inaugural lecture, held on September 20 in the beautiful Leonard Room at UNR’s Knowledge Center. There was a terrific audience, much bigger than we would have ever expected, and Bergon’s presentation inspired us all in different ways.

After an introduction by Professor Zulaika and myself, Bergon talked us through his research for his novels, weaving in his own personal narrative. A native of Ely, Nevada, who then grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Bergon’s maternal grandparents were from Bizkaia, while his paternal ones from Bearn. He describes himself, above all, as a Westerner, although his work has explored the presence of Basques in the West.

His lecture was beautifully combined with photographs of his family and the many places he has traveled to for research and writing. Along the way, he spoke of the many Basque characters in his work, as well as the way he finds inspiration for future novels from past characters he has created. He is now working on non-fiction by describing “America’s True West. For Bergon, Western history and literature is not myth vs. reality: it is the complicated lives of people that go beyond stereotypes, from the Marlboro Man to the small rancher.

The audience was attentive to his talk, especially due to his gift of storytelling and charismatic nature. For me personally, having the chance to meet one of my literary heroes was an experience I will never forget. He inspired me to think about new angles and perspectives of the West, as well as helping me to reflect on the writing process. Eskerrik asko, Frank Bergon, and we truly thank you for your participation and warm spirit.

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