Month: October 2018

CBS Lecture Series

The Center for Basque Studies invites you to attend our Fall 2018 Multidisciplinary Lecture Series. Starting this month, the series will showcase the research of our librarian, our visiting scholars from the Basque Country, and faculty from the UNR Anthropology Department. Our lecturers will cover a wide range of topics and disciplines. It is held on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 in the Basque Studies Conference Room (MIKC 305N). Be sure to check it out!

The schedule for the Lecture Series is:

OCT 25 “Debates on Nationalism in the Basque Country: 1968-2018” by Haritz Azurmendi

NOV 8  “A Critical Analysis of Cooperative Multinationalization: A comparative study of the French ‘Up Group’ and the Mondragon ‘Fagor Ederlan Group’” by Anjel Errasti

NOV 15 “Preserving Basque Digital Photographs: Dealing with Legacy Metadata and File Formats” by Iñaki Arrieta Baro

NOV 29 “Contested Reconciliation in the Basque Country: A Feminist Approach” by Andrea García González

DEC 6 “Politics, Aesthetics and Technologies of the Self in Sakha Blessing Poems” by Jenanne Ferguson

October 7, 1915: Inaugural run of the Artxanda Funicular in Bilbao

The Lower Station. Photo by Wayne 77, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Lower Station. Photo by Wayne 77, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On October 7, 1915, a funicular railway linking Bilbao with Mount Artxanda, one of the emblematic mountains overlooking the city,  operated for the first time. The Artxanda Funicular still runs to this day, and is an obligatory experience for many visitors to the city because at the summit one is treated to some of the best views of Greater Bilbao as it winds it way out along the Nerbioi River to the ocean.

View of the Artxanda Funicular from downtown Bilbao. Photo by pere prlpz, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

View of the Artxanda Funicular from downtown Bilbao. Photo by pere prlpz, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In late nineteenth-century Bilbao, the area around Mount Artxanda became a popular recreation spot for the inhabitants of Bilbao. The city was experiencing a major industrial boom and leisure pursuits–the display of having and using one’s “free time”–were important for the more affluent classes. A casino was constructed and the area was also renowned for its “txakolis” (bars developed out of farmhouses whose principal beverage was the local wine known as txakoli). Yet the area remained difficult to get to and, with the coming of the twentieth century, different plans were put forth to construct a rail link to the top of the mountain.

View of Bilbao from Mount Artxanda. Photo by Ardfern, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

View of Bilbao from Mount Artxanda. Photo by Ardfern, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, in 1915 a definitive plan was approved and the funicular was built using  machinery designed by the Von Roll company, a Swiss enterprise specializing in mountain railroad construction. The inaugural run that same October was presided over by the mayor of Bilbao, Julián Benito Marco Gardoqui. In the years that followed, the funicular served as both a means for city dwellers to spend some time in the rustic environment of Mont Artxanda, and for the local farmers to take their produce down into the heart of the bustling city to sell.

It did not function during two significant periods–in the civil war when it was bombed (1937-1938) and following an accident (1976-1983, during which time it was renovated)–but today it thrives as it always has done, transporting locals and visitors alike to the recreation area around Mount Artxanda. Check out a previous blog by our Basque Books Editor on his own Artxanda Funicular experience here. And why not take a virtual ride below?

 

 

Agur Dan! Eskerrik asko eta ondo ibili!

It is with great sadness for us at the CBS that our book productions editor, Dan Montero has decided to leave and “seek new challenges,” as he put it. Today is his last day of work. Many thanks, Dan, for the wonderful books you produced, and for being a great friend and colleague!

Dan has served as publications editor for the Center for Basque Studies since August, 2009, during which time he has managed the publication of books on many Basque topics. He sat down and recalled some of his favorites, “there can’t be any single story like that of Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees, it is a publisher’s dream. The manuscript, written by local artist and Basque Mary Jean Etcheberry, was brought to us by her grandnieces as a carbon copy of a typed manuscript that had been passed down through the family. Artwork on original blocks. And a story that grabbed me as soon as I sat down to read it, it is a really beautiful book and I feel so lucky that I got to work on it.”

Another exceptional story that he recalls particularly fondly is that of Winnemucca, Nevada author, Joan Errea, and her tremendous memoirs about her mother and father, My Mama Marie and A Man Called Aita. Joan had published the books in spiral notebooks, with drawings by Bert Paris, but it was her daughter, Lianne Iroz, who brought them in to the Center. “I’ve particularly loved the homegrown books about the West we’ve done,” he recalls, “especially My Mama Marie, I can almost imagine Marie stepping down from the train and being spoken to in Basque by her future husband, Arnaud Paris. And knowing the place where it happened makes it all that much more meaningful.”

When asked about the specific challenges that he has enjoyed about publishing Basque books, he answers, “in general, it has been a pleasure to work in a place that takes on so many and so many complex translations, from Basque usually, but also Spanish, French, and even German!”This was the case with the publication of The Selected Writings of Alexander von Humboldt for the Basque Classics Series. “Translations were especially hard because I don’t have much Basque, but I had the masterful editing of Cameron J. Watson. Without him many of our books would not have been possible, he is a true scholar in the best meaning of the word and I will miss working with him and our weekly Skype meetings!”

Other highlights he recalls fondly are sales trips he made the Durango Azoka, for him “a deeply meaningful cultural event that I was blessed to be a part of, and to meet so many great Basques at our booth.” And a trip to Buffalo, Wyoming, for the NABO Convention, “it’s an incredible part of the world,” he says, “and it means even more to me because, even though I had never been there, I imagined it and held it dear due to working on Buffalotarrak and Zelestina Urza in Outer Spaceby David Romtvedt, a truly special novel.”

He also would like to thank all of the visitors, grad students, and friends who have spent time at the Center; professors Xabier Irujo, Sandra Ott, Joseba Zulaika, Mariann Vaczi, and professor emeritus Bill Douglass, for their dedication to research on Basque culture; and all of the student assistants who have helped him through the years, especially Kim Jo Daggett, Joannes Zulaika, Ezti Villanueva, Meg Montero, and Carly Sauvageau. He has a special thanks for Kate Camino, for being a great coworker and friend, and for “holding the place together.” He adds, “I give my most heartfelt thanks to all those people who have picked up and read one of the Basque books I’ve had the absolute honor of working on while I have been here. I love books more than just about anything, and without readers there are no books. So mila eskerto our readers!”

We wish you all the best, and hope to see you around sometime! Agur Dan, eskerrik asko eta ondo ibili!

                         

 

 

At Midnight: Book Review by William A. Douglass

A few years ago I was co-organizer in Havana of a conference that eventuated in the publication of the book entitled Basques in Cuba (2016).  My collaborator was a famed political exile and extraordinary figure in Basque letters, Joseba Sarrionandia. In addition to our conference we were working on an English-language translation of his poetry. That anthology is now completed and should be published within the next several months (our working title is “Prisons and Exiles”). But that is another story.

Joseba insisted at the time that I consider arranging for English translation and publication by the Center for Basque Studies a book entitled A medianoche by a Basque former priest Javier Arzuaga. I read it as a favor and was dumbfounded. Arzuaga was the priest of the parish that included La Cabaña fortress, presided over by Che and the site of show trials, brief imprisonment and then execution of certain officials in the army and government of Fulgencio Batista. For the first four months of the process, Arzuaga was permitted to accompany condemned men for the few hours before their extermination. He was present at fifty-five executions before suffering a nervous breakdown.

Arzuaga describes his encounters with Che and Fidel, as well as his own evolution as a supporter of the revolution to critic of it. He provides extraordinary human profiles of the revolutionary officials conducting the proceedings, as well as of several of the condemned men. Particularly riveting was his internal crisis of conscience, since Arzuaga had become estranged from the Catholic hierarchy (he eventually left the priesthood) and doubted the very message of redemption and an afterlife that he employed to console the doomed men.

As a 78-year-old writer in the twilight of a lengthy career, I cannot begin to estimate how many books I have read—certainly thousands. Yet I can say that none has been more disturbing or memorable than At Midnight.

Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika

Ardi Baltza Kontalari

The William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies invites you to Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika on November 2, 2018 at 7 p.m. in the UNR Wells Fargo Auditorium (MIKC 124). In this performance by the Lamoille, NV based Basque dancing group, Ardi Baltza Kontalari, the eyewitness accounts of the survivors of the tragic Nazi bombings on Gernika in 1937 are presented and honored. Through their lyrical and contemporary dance styles, mixed with traditional Basque steps, the dancers demonstrate the strength and resilience of the Basque people in the face of adversity.

Etxea: Memoirs of Gernika at the 2018 NABO Convention

This performance will also feature a short introductory talk by Dr. Xabier Irujo, professor at the Center for Basque Studies and author of The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History, on the events leading up to the bombing. Free admission.

To learn more about the Ardi Baltza Kontalari, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ardibaltza/

For information on Dr. Irujo’s book, a companion to this performance, visit: https://basquebooks.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-bombing-of-gernika-a-short-history

October 3, 1994: Premiere of long-running Basque TV soap opera Goenkale

On October 3, 1994, the Basque TV series Goenkale premiered. It would go on to run for 3,708 episodes, finally coming to an end on December 28, 2015. It became the most watched show on the Basque-language channel ETB 1 and one of the most popular shows of all time for EITB, the Basque public broadcasting service.

Set in the fictional coastal town of Arralde, the soap opera followed the fortunes of the town’s inhabitants and several emblematic locales such as the Boga Boga bar, a popular local bakery, a video store, a gastronomic society, and the local police station, all centered around “Goenkale” or Upper Street, the principal street in Arralde.

It was originally scheduled to run for just three months, but its immediate success led to it being renewed. With episode number 3000 on July 5, 2010, it became officially the longest running TV series in Spanish broadcasting history to date, and the second longest-running show on European TV.

See a report on the show here.

 

Nevada Stories Series: Folklife Program Videos Online

A couple of months ago, I came across a few videos on the Nevada Arts Council website highlighting Basque culture in Nevada.

Nevada Stories is an online video series focusing on folk and traditional artists, specific local traditions, and Nevada’s landscape. An outreach activity of the NAC Folklife Program, it supports the Nevada Arts Council’s mission to provide folklife education to all age groups and to highlight the individual folk artists, traditional communities, and cultural sites that make Nevada distinctive. Filming and production are funded through Folk and Traditional Arts grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

I’ll share the Basque ones here, but be sure to check out the website for more on the many cultures that comprise Nevada!

The Basque Chef: Asier Garcia

Visitors to the 34th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko (2018)–themed “Basques and Buckaroos”–saw firsthand that Basques know how to have fun! A popular social pastime in the Basque Country involves bar hopping while sampling the pintxo (pronounced “peen-show”) or bite-sized snack specialties of the house. Our guest chef Asier Garcia hails from Bizkaia and is now a resident of Boise. Asier leads a workshop group through the intricacies of creating a dozen different pintxos, deconstructing this artful tradition to enhance their culinary repertoires and satisfy their appetites.


Basque Cooking With Jean Flesher

Utah bandleader, contractor, Basque personality and cook Jean Flesher presents Basque cuisine in traditional fashion with a northern Basque country (French influenced) flavor. The workshop features classic dishes and cooking techniques. Participants learned new recipes (included in the video) and left with satisfied appetites and a full serving of Basque joi de vivre. This film was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and partnerships between the Western Folklife Center, Nevada’s Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and the Nevada Arts Council.

Hunting the Mountain Picassos

For more than half a century, Jean and Phillip Earl of Reno have used clues from old maps, letters, and books to hunt for and document “Mountain Picassos,” distinctive figures carved into aspen trees found in the high country meadows of the Great Basin. These figures– along with names, dates, and sayings– were carved by Basque sheepherders in the early to mid-20th century.

Euskal Jaiak: Celebrating Basque Culture – the 50th Annual National Basque Festival, Elko
For the last 50 years, Basque families from throughout the American West have gathered in Elko, Nevada on 4th of July weekend to celebrate their culture and the opportunities afforded them in the USA. Filmed over the three days of the 2013 National Basque Festival, “Euskal Jaiak: Celebrating Basque Culture” offers the viewer an all-embracing view of this multi-faceted event.

To learn more about Basque’s in Nevada, go to, Home Means Nevada 1896: Folklife in Nevada Historic Radio Series

Alan Griffin and the Alboka

Alan Griffin, an Irish musician, originally playing the flute and the tin whistle in traditional Irish fashion, did not think much of the alboka, the peculiar Basque, single-reed, woodwind instrument, when he first encountered it.  Griffin said that it seemed like “a kind of circus trick”.  Yet, three decades later, he became an influential part of the revitalization of the alboka and traditional Basque music.

Griffin started out playing at informal social gathering for Basque social dinners, and eventually met Txomin Artola while he was playing at a cider house with the music group Ganbara, which included the accordionist Joxan Goikoetxea and they began playing together in the group Folk Lore Sorta, which eventually evolved into the group Alboka along with Josean Martín Zarko.

Joxan Goikoetxea & Alan Griffin. Photo by: Ander Gillenea, uploaded by Aztarna via Wikimedia Commons

Joxan Goikoetxea & Alan Griffin. Photo by: Ander Gillenea, uploaded by Aztarna via Wikimedia Commons

There is so much more to the story of how Griffin, along with his alboka and the group of Alboka helped the revitalization of traditional Basque music, to learn more about the story and Griffin’s thoughts on his musical career, click the following link: https://bit.ly/2pAqCe0.