Author: mvaczi (page 1 of 6)

Visiting Scholar Haritz Azurmendi Speaks on Basque Nationalism at the CBS Lecture Series

Haritz Azurmendi is a visiting scholar from the University of the Basque Country (EHU-UPV). Azurmendi gave an engaging lecture at the CBS Lecture Series late October, where he addressed Basque debates about nationalism from a historical and contemporary perspective. Tracing the evolution of Basque nationalist thought over 1968 to 2018, the lecture situated Basque discourse about identity and nationalism within the broader intellectual debates between the Modernist and Ethno-symbolic schools.  To what extent, Azurmendi proposed, is Basque nationalism a product of the Enlightenment, of capitalism and of the general resurgence of nationalist movements in the 19th century? To what extent does the emergence of Basque nationalist symbols constitute a pattern of a Hobsbawmian “invention of tradition”? Alternatively, how do they draw on pre-modern ethnic memories? Azurmendi presented the evolution of Basque nationalism as a contested ideological terrain where left wing abertzalism, right wing bourgeois nationalism, Marxism and post-colonial discourses competed for diverse interpretations of the nation.  He identified the initial phase of these developments as the First Renaissance that relied on the exaltation of the peasantry, traditionalism, folklore, and a certain romanticism of rural life. The Second Renaissance, in turn, drew from urban modernity, existentialist thought, and social poetry. Azurmendi discussed the fascinating debate among public intellectuals concerning the question of why, and to what end, is one to speak Basque, with arguments ranging from sentimental reasons to justice, the importance of choice, and the defense of local culture. Azurmendi concluded that in light of the current Catalan crisis and Spanish reactions to it, we must re-think Basque nationalism and its diverse appeal to discourses about the “post-national subject,” the right to decide, democratization, independence, and the role of the Basque language.

Haritz investigates the idea of the nation in Jose Azurmendi`s work as a PhD student in the department of Political Science at the University of the Basque Country (EHU-UPV). He is using the CBS library resources to finish his dissertation, which he will defend next summer. This is what he said about his stay in Reno: “I try to travel around at weekends. I have visited such must see places in the neighborhood as Lake Tahoe, Mount Rose, and I am planning to go to Lake Pyramid soon. I also enjoy historical visits to places like Virginia City. And, of course, I love meeting Basque Americans and hear their stories and memories!”

Haritz`s talk ended with a lively discussion among the faculty, students and visiting scholars of the Center for Basque Studies. Eskerrik asko Haritz!

      

 

 

 

 

 

Basque Books Round-Up 2018

It has been another busy and exciting year for Basque publishing! The year started out with our attendance at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Our booth there was very well-attended and we launched local Elko author Gretchen Skivington’s novel (a past winner of our Basque writing contest) Echevarria. In addition to selling the book at our booth, we also hosted an event at which the work of Joan Errea was read by your Basque books editor, Florence Frye read from her stories about growing up in Gerlach, David Romtvedt read from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space, and Gretchen presented from her new book as well. The spring continued with the publication of our director Xabier Irujo’s short history on the bombing of Gernika, The Bombing of Gernika: A Short History. The publication was celebrated in Winnemucca in conjunction with the Basque festival and NABO convention held there with another booth and with a wonderful dance performance about the bombing of Gernika by Lamoille, Nevada dancers Ardi Baltza. Ardi Baltza continued presenting the dance and the book at events in Gooding, Idaho, and Elko, Nevada, among other places.

It was with great pleasure this year that we published At Midnight by the late Javier Arzuaga. This tremendously interesting story recounts the experiences of a young Basque priest counseling to condemned prisoners in the aftermath of the 1950s Cuban revolution. It is a tremendously powerful story about doubt, faith, human kindness, and the confrontation with the eternity. In a masterful translation by Cameron J. Watson, this book is a must read!

Bertsolaritza has also been a theme of the year, with Basque bertsolariak also attending the Elko Poetry Gathering and a book forthcoming with shared articles on the oral poetry form and the experience of poetry in the Western United States. In addition, we published World Improvised Verse Singing, edited by Xabier Irujo, a collection of articles on improvised and other oral poetries from around the world.

The tenor changed with our next publication, Stories of Basque Mythology for Children, by Bakarne Atxukarro, Izaskun Zubialde, and illustrated by Asun Egurza. This delightfully and colorfully illustrated children’s book runs the gamut of classical Basque mythological tales, all translated by students from the USAC program in Donostia-San Sebastián.

In addition, a collection of article based on the conference that was held in Iceland regarding the massacre of Basque whalers there hundreds of years ago was presented, Jon Gudmundsson Laedi’s True Account and the Massacre of Basque Whalers in Iceland in 1615, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio. The story not only talks about the Basque whalers, however, but also the Icelanders, including especially Jon Gudmundsson Laedi, who rejected their countrymen’s violence and sought to present the truth about the events far out in the Atlantic. And it will continue to be a busy fall, with the current launch of a new kind of book for us, Meggan Laxalt Mackey’s, Lekuak: The Basque Places of Boise, Idaho, this richly illustrated book tells the story of Basques in Boise from their roots in trans-Atlantic migration and the sheepherding industries to their modern contributions to the city of Boise and the state of Idaho, an influence that will continue to be felt deeply into the future. And in production is the next installment of the Basques in the United States, with many more names added; Asun Garikano’s Kaliforniakoak, a history of Basques in California; a collection of articles on German and Nazi influence in the Basque Country and Catalonia during the Civil War and World War II, and our classic, the first English translation of the diaries of the first Basque lehendakari, Jose Antonio Agirre, in a richly annotated edition, and much more.

             

CBS Graduate Student News 2018

Kerri Lesh, supported by a Bilinski Fellowship, will defend her dissertation next Spring. In November, she will be presenting a wine tasting as well as on the panel, “Food, Money, and Morals: Semiotic Reconfigurations of Value,” for the American Anthropological Association. Her recently gained title as a Certified Specialist of Wine compliments her research which has allowed her to present for Academic Minute and the radio show, “The Good Life”.

 

After successfully completing her comprehensive exams and teaching her first course for the CBS, Edurne Arostegui took off to Euskadi to conduct field work. Her current research deals with Basque women’s migration to the United States. She hopes to track down return migrants and family members for interviews as well as consult archives and municipal records. She will also participate in conferences and present her work at various universities.

 

Marsha Hunter is a second-year PhD student who is currently completing her course work on Basque culture, history and politics. She is preparing for her comprehensive exams in May 2019, expanding her research on Basque nationalist activity in Idaho during the first half of the twentieth century.

 

Callie Greenhaw is the newest Ph.D. student at CBS. In addition to her course work, she is participating in the ACUE certificate program “Effective Teaching Practices in Higher Education”. This semester, Callie is contributing to the CBS blog, organizing the CBS’s Fall 2018 Multidisciplinary Lecture Series, serving as a TA in Dr. Ott’s Basque Culture class, and starting her research on the Basque community in Elko, NV.

 

 

CBS Faculty News 2018

Xabier Irujo participated in the commemoration of the 81th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika. As part of the events, he collaborated with the City Council of Gernika to inaugurate the “Itinerary of Memory,” a route through the most affected scenes of the raid. This consists of a tour of the eleven most significant points of the bombing, marked with several testimonies of survivors and photographs. It was an initiative that combined three paths: historical research, the testimonies of the survivors, and the possibility to see what Gernika was like before the bombing through QR. Dr. Irujo also participated in the conference “Experiment Stuka” on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the war experiments carried out by the Condor Legion in Alt Maestrat. He also co-organized three international seminars with the University of the Basque Country, the University of Barcelona, and the Public University of Navarre. Dr. Irujo addressed the Parliament of Uruguay as part of the events that took place during the III. Seminar on Basque Studies in Montevideo. He gave thirty lectures during the spring and summer semesters. His 2018 book 778 on the battle of Rencesvals/Errozabal had a wide media impact this summer in the Basque Country. He was invited to give the keynote lecture on this topic by the Orreaga Association in Pamplona and in Errozabal.

In 2017, William Douglass published an article on immigration policy (“Gizon bikarti baten mamuak”) in a book on the Trump administration (Trump amesgaizto amerikarra) edited by Arantxa Elizegi Egilegor. In 2018 he was interviewed by Las Vegas Public Television for a “Basques of Nevada” program in their Nevada Outdoors series. On May 18, 2018, he presented former Basque President, Jan José Ibarretxe, as the lecturer for the Second Annual William A. Douglass Annual Lecture in Basque Cultural Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. On August 22 he addressed the 25thannual dinner of the Estate Planning Council of Northern Nevada at Louis’ Basque Corner, Reno, on the subject of “Basques in Nevada.” He was also interviewed by Yvonne Gonzalez for her article entitled “Q+A Expert Discusses Basque History, Culture in Nevada” that appeared in the August 25 issue of the Las Vegas Sunnewspaper. On September 7 he gave an address on immigration in Agnone, Isernia (Italy) on the occasion of the book presentation of the second edition of his work L’emigrazione in un paese dell’Italia meridionale: Agnone tra storia e antropologia(Isernia: Cosmo Iannone Editore, 2018). While in Agnone, Douglass was interviewed by Radio Euskadi (via Skype) for its coverage on September 8 of the Day of the Diaspora in the Basque Country.

During the Spring semester Joseba Zulaika has been on sabbatical with the purpose of finishing his manuscript on drone warfare. Hehas published the following articles: “What Do You Want? Evidence and Fantasy in the War on Terror,” in Mark Maguire and Ursula Rao, eds. Bodies as Evidence. Yale University Press);  “La última cena,” “Cenizas y rosas,” In Carles Guerra, ed., La paz aplazada. Documentos y ensayos en torno a una exposición. Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies; (with Anna Maria Guasch), “The Gaur Group in the Context of Post-War Basque Art: The Test of Modernity,” in Jacques Battesti, Gaur, 1966: L’Art Basque sous le Franquisme—Resistance et Avant-Garde. Bayonne: Musee basque et de l’histoire de Bayonne; “Self-Fulfillling Prophecy,” Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition. During the months of February and March, Zulaika taught a course on the Bilbao-Guggenheim Museum at the University of Liverpool. On March 8, he gave a public lecture on “City, Architecture, and Labyrinth” at the University of Liverpool. On May 14, he lectured on “The Architecture of Borderless Drone Warfare” at a symposium on “The City and Other Policies” organized by Tabakalera, San Sebastian. On June 22, Zulaika also gave a public lecture in Itziar, “The Beginning and End of ETA,” with the occasion of 40 years after he began his fieldwork on Basque political violence.

On July 1, 2018, Sandy Ott was promoted to full Professor at UNR. In 2018, she published two book reviews: The Pyrenees in the Modern Era: Reinvention of aLandscape, 1775-2012 (London & New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 276 pp., for H-France Review, and a review of Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944 by Jean Guéhenno (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 304 pp., for H-France Review. She did two podcasts about her book, Living with the Enemy: German Occupation, Collaboration, and Justice in the Western Pyrenees, 1940-1948 (Cambridge University Press, 2017): one for Historica (which focuses on the history of Spain) and another for the German Studies Review. She continues to serve as Interim Chair of Communication Studies (since July 2017).  In the Spring of 2018, she received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service in the College of Liberal Arts. This Fall, Ott is teaching a course on “Basque Culture” with 32 students—none of whom has any Basque connections. They have learned a few Basque words and later this month will be treated to some singing by Louis Irigaray. Students will also hear about his experiences growing up as a Basque American in California. As Sandy says to her students, “since I can’t fly you all to the Basque Country, I’ll do my best to bring Basque culture into our classroom.” During the summer, Ott started a new research project in the Departmental Archives of Baiona and in the National Archives in Paris: the experiences of Jews in Iparralde and Bearn during the German Occupation and in the post-liberation years. She is working on the spoliation of Jewish property by Vichy and the Germans and the attempted restitution of such property by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in the post-liberation years.

Mariann Vaczi`s recent publications include “Football, the Beast and the Sovereign: The Politics of Joking Relationships in Spain” in the journal of anthropology Ethnos, where she addresses fan protests against Spanish state symbols at soccer games. Given the salience of anthem protests at sport events in the US as well, the New York Times interviewed Dr. Vaczi in April 2018 for its cover of the Spanish King`s Cup final. She has served as editor to a monographic special issue titled Sport, Identity and Nationalism in the Hispanic Worldat the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies(SIBA), including two of her own contributions in a roster of 13 authors. In 2018, Dr. Vaczi finalized additional publication projects about sport in the Basque Country and Eastern Europe, forthcoming and published in the journals Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares, and Communication & Sport. Dr. Vaczi`s book review of CBS colleague Sandy Ott`s Living with the Enemy (2017) is forthcoming at the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. At the invitation of Routledge, Dr. Vaczi is editing a volume with the title Sport and Secessionism with Alan Bairner from Loughborough University, convoking 17 authors from diverse contexts across the globe. Most importantly, she is eager to finish her second ethnographic monograph, this time on sport and the Catalan independence movement. Besides her classes about Basque culture and transnationalism, Dr. Vaczi has also developed a course called “Sport and Society from a Global Perspective,” which she will teach in Spring 2019.

 

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.

Musikene and the CBS Compile the History of Basque Music

The Center for Basque Studies and the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, Musikene, have organized a conference on the history of the Basque music from Prehistory to the present times. The conference took place on June 28 and 29 at Musikene in Donostia-San Sebastian and the pianist and professor Jokin Okiñena offered a piano recital.

After a concert Prof. Okiñena gave in Reno in 2016, he and Xabier Irujo spoke about the existing void in relation to the history of Basque music since the publication of Arana Martija’s work in 1987. To carry out this task, the Center for Basque Studies signed an agreement with Miren Iñarga, director of Musikene.

The resulting volume coordinated by professor Okiñena will be published by the CBS. The project, which emerged thirty years after the publication of the last historical analysis of Basque music by Jose A. Arana Martija, will systematize the history of the Basque music from prehistory to the present and will include a separate section on the contribution of women to this relevant aspect of the Basque history. This is a novel project whose first sketch emerged in 2017 with the signing of an agreement between Musikene and the Center for the celebration of a conference and a piano recital and the publication of a book.

The conference has brought together nine experts on different aspects of the Basque music. Prof. Elixabete Etxebeste lectured about the history of the Basque music from Prehistory to the Middle Ages; Prof. Sergio Barcellona talked about Renaissance and Baroque; Prof. Jon Bagüés about Enlightment; Prof. Isabel Díaz about Basque Music in the 19th century; Prof. Iosu Okiñena about Basque music and Nationalism, Itziar Larrinaga lectured about the Basque music during war and dictatorship (1936-1978) and Mikel Chamizo about contemporary Basque music (from 2000 to the present.) Finally, Prof. Patri Goialde and Mark Barnés lectured about Basque jazz and Prof. Gotzone Higuera focuses on the contribution of Basque women to music.

Program

June 28:

10:00 Opening

10:30 Prof. Elixabete Etxebeste. Prehistory, Antiquity and Middle Ages

11:30 Prof. Sergio Barcellona. Renaissance and Baroque

12:30 Break

13:00 Jon Bagüés. Basque music and Enlightment

14:00 Lunch

15:30 Isabel Díaz. Basque music in the 19th century

16:30 Gotzone Higuera. Basque music and women

17:30 Break

18:00 Patri Goialde y Mark Barnés. Jazz in the Basque Country

20:00 Piano recital by Josu Okiñena

 

June 29

10:00 Josu Okiñena. Basque music and nationalism

11:00 Itziar Larrinaga. Basque music during war and dictatorship (1936-1978)

12:00 Break

12:30 Mikel Chamizo. Basque music in the 21rst century

13:30 Conclusions

14:00 Lunch and meeting of the scientific committee

 

From the Seeds of Jai Alai to the Streets of London

We could say that without the “pilota”, this meeting would not exist, ex professional Jai-Alai player and New England Basque Club integrant Aitor Aldazabal concluded.

By Iñigo Medina Gracia

Aitor Aldazabal, Juan Mari Aramendi, Riki Sotil, Raul Blanco, Edu Arrieta, Patxi Gandiaga and many others gathered in New London CT the 23th of June as organizers during the celebration of the New England’s annual Basque Festival. They were nostalgic but heartfelt when considering this statement.  As the ones who have loved loyally the ancient Basque sport of the “Fronton” in its “Zesta” modality and have to leave it sooner or later, life could be expressed as a set of steps where each one takes you to a different, eventually, completely unexpected one.

Those steps are the ones they experienced after playing at the main frontons of Jai-Alai (or Hi-Li) in Miami, Dania Beach, Hartford, Orlando, Milford, Newport and others. The events occurred during the late 80’s and first 90’s, as the players were on strike, the parallel development of other sports-show competence and the decay of the betting business forced them to reinvent their selves. After getting introduced to some of the organizers or assistant ex-pilotaris and knowing a bit more about their American experience, I noticed that somehow what happened was a recent chapter of Basque emigration history that has not been considered as it deserved to. As multilevel sociological phenomenon, maybe the Jai-Alai 80’s strike and the previous genealogical events which triggered it did not acquire the needed echo within the Basque migration movements. And for sure, it has been and still is, a very interesting individual and collective story.

  

One of the many products of this route synthetized with the creation of the Rhode Island Basque Club in 2003, when some Roberto Guerenabarrena and other Basque-Americans ex “pilotaris” decided to run a Basque Club. This Euskal Etxea later gathered other Basque Diaspora members from states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, finally establishing the New England Basque Club. New England’s Basque Club has been an active chapter of the NABO federation from 2011, celebrating amusing Basque Festivals each year and running different cultural activities always enforcing Basque culture in the East Coast. This time, the place chosen was New London a “well connected enclave between big cities like Boston and New York. This has encouraged other Basques to visit us and join the celebration” organizer Juan Mari Aramendi assessed. In this sense, not only North East coaster Basques came to the meeting. Formers from other Euskal Etxeak or Basques communities like Montreal and Quebec, Florida, California and Nevada could be found onto the about seven hundred assistants.

The meeting was hosted thanks to the collaboration of the New London’s City Council who set the license for the celebration, the main sponsor Thames River Greenery who offered a sale selection of Basque products in this store and obviously the voluntary support carried out by all the members of different Euskal Etxeak. First step of the agenda took place on Friday afternoon at Thames River Greenery, where the visitors had the chance to taste some typical Basque products as cheese or white, rose (Txakoli) and red wine (Rioja). After this, the “Trikipoteo” (a popular run of bars in the Basque Country which always goes with an itinerant live performance of “Trikitixa” or Basque accordion and tambourine or “Pandero”) moved to the Hot Rod Wings bar in Bank Street. New England Basque Club invited the assistants to a tasty dinner based on the specialty of the house: many different types of sauced chicken wings.

Next morning, last steps of the setting up were figuring out at 11.30 when a parade conformed by visitors, dancers and musicians began from the City Hall to the Parade Plaza. The institutional reception lead by the Mayor Michael Passero, and accompained by Juan Mari Aramendi the New England Basque Club president and Iker Goiria from the Regional Council of Gipuzkoa, took place in front of the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse. After the welcome “Aurresku”, Passero gladly received all the visitors and underlined the value and importance of the coexistence between communities that the city of New London has hosted from its foundation. He also remarked the naval-harbor connections and strong whaling tradition similarities between both Basque and New England’s histories.

Bars were opened at the Parade Plaza offering different “pintxos” elaborated by Mikel de Luis from the Amona restaurant (NY) and Fernando Zarauzfrom the Txikito restaurant (NY). Also the paellas started to get cooked thanks to the good work of Bonifacio, Danny and Jean Pierrefrom Miami with the cooperation of different voluntaries from the New England Basque Club.

As the day went by, different music and dance performances started within the celebration premises. Musicians brought from Gipuzkoa made more enjoyable if possible the festive atmosphere breathed in the Parade Plaza. The dancing groups this time were “Gauden Bat” from Chino CA, “Zazpiak Bat” from San Francisco CA and “Ardi Beltza” from Lamoille NV. They offered a magnificent and inclusive demonstration (the visitors were allowed to join the dancers and learn Basque “dantzak”) which came with detailed explications about the origin and meaning of each dance. Meanwhile, the “Paella” was ready to get served just before the turn for the “Herri Kirolak” or Rural Sports came.  Woodchopper or “Aizkolari” performances were developed by Juan Mari Aramendi, Riki Sotil and Patxi Gandiaga, being Riki the first courageous contender to chop six trunks in a row and becoming winner of the challenge.

 

Time for the little ones to try some “txinga-eramate” (a Basque rural modality which consists in carrying a heavy dumbbell in each hand within a track. The person who succeeds in making more comebacks with no limit time and without leaving the dumbbells touch the floor, wins) started afterwards. We had the chance to see great young runners before they changed the dumbbells for the rope “Tug of War-Rope pulling”or “Sokatira” competition, where the struggle got funnier when the adults joined it (my muscles were aching next morning!).

Music continued grooving until dusk when the time to close an enriching Basque culture day in New London arrived. The outcome of the festival was an undoubtedly success, considering the beauty of how the sown seeds of old Jai-Alai Basque-American stories could blossom nowadays in such marvelous gathering and cultural expression.

 

Presentation of the book “A Basque cry for freedom in New York”

          Josu Erkoreka, secretary of Public Governance and Self-Government of the Basque Government and Iñaki Anasagasti, former Basque senator and Xabier Irujo, director of the Center for Basque Studies have presented a book on José Luis de la Lombana.

           On the 80th anniversary of the speech given by a young non-anglophone Basque at the Madison Square Garden in New York, a book about Lombana has been presented at the Sabino Araba Foundation in Bilbao.
Both authors underlined that the book collects “the incredible trajectory of José Luis de la Lombana, a young activist of the Basque Nationalist Party, born in Gasteiz within a Basque nationalist family, which during the years of the 1936 war and the subsequent dictatorship carried out a great anti-Franco activity calling for peace in Europe and the Americas and for Basque freedom”.
          Erkoreka and Anasagasti -authors of recommended monographs on the contemporary history of Euskadi and the Basque Government, with the collaboration of Xabier Irujo- have detailed during the presentation Lombana’s life trajectory, from his education in Madrid, his participation in the anti-Franco resistance, his incarceration in Gasteiz, his departure to exile in France, his activism in Barcelona where he worked as an editor for the Basque nationalist newspaper Euzkadi, supporting the Basque Government in exile, and, finally, his long years of exile in Colombia.
          The book focuses on Lombana’s intervention at the Second World Youth Congress for Peace that took place in New York in 1938 where he argued against the pro-Franco propaganda in the United States. Lombana was one of the delegates of the Basque Nationalist Party in the World Youth Congress for Peace and during his period of activism in the United States, he made “innumerable observations about American society and the American Basques, establishing bridges between different North American groups and the Basques. All this within the framework of a complex and tumultuous period both in the United States and in the rest of the world.”
          In New York, Lombana who at the time was only 27 years old found a society that was not so uninformed about the war and the Basques. The Americans had followed through the press the ups and downs of the war and had a fairly clear criterion around the Basque reality. But in the end Lombana outlined a rather “pessimistic” approach. In his opinion there was little to be done from America to help Europe in general and Spain or the Basque Country and Catalonia in particular. Very little. Both geographically and intellectually, the United States felt alienated from Europe and its social, cultural and political problems.
          The book also analyzes the first years of the delegation of the Basque Government in New York, three years before the arrival of Lehendakari Agirre escaping from the Nazis in World War II. There are also reports on the efforts to support the Basque Government in France and the United States and letters on the propaganda effort both in favor of Basque nationalism and the rebels and their international allies, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Xabier Irujo

Joseba Zulaika returns to Itziar to talk about his classic Basque Violence

In June 22 Joseba Zulaika gave a talk in Itziar, his home town and the place of the ethnographic work for which he is best known, Basque Violence: Metaphor and Sacrament. Almost forty years ago, having concluded his fieldwork, Zulaika was asked to give a talk in Itziar and he said that this one, now that ETA is ended, felt like a repetition of that one—when he had to face his village neighbors and explain what he had “discovered” about the place.

Zulaika repeated his argument about the Homeric plot underlying “The Tragedy of Carlos”—the two “milk brothers” and close friends Martin and Carlos who later became political antagonists in the eyes of the community and when Carlos was killed by ETA Martin didn’t approve of it. Zulaika later applied the Homeric scheme to the painful history of ETA in Itziar—the plight of the hero who falls into a tragic error. The tragic error is really an error, yet it is the sort of error a good man would make. It is thus an act both free and conditioned. It is not forced upon him, but he makes it under conditions so adverse that we watch him with compassion. There could be many readings of Itziar’s events but Zulaika emphasized that, far beyond the current “terrorist” all encompassing discourse, only an ethnographic approach could make justice to the actual histories of the pople. Zulaika said that giving his talk in Itziar was unlike giving it anywhere else—because he was in the presence of the protagonists of his ethnography and this implied a “repetition” in the deeper sense that the presence of Martin and Carlos and the former ETA activists wasn’t just a memory of past events, but an affirmation of the present and future realities of Itziar in this post-ETA era.

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