Author: Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain (page 2 of 3)

Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World 40 YEARS!

Amerikanuak (1975), by William A. Douglas and Jon Bilbao, is a cornerstone in studies of Basque emigration and diaspora. Although in the last four decades a lot of research has been carried out on this topic, this book is still essential today.

From October 14 and until December 9, different universities in the Basque Country are honoring this landmark work by holding inter-university seminars on topics related to the book titled “The Basque Country and the Americas: Atlantic Links and Relations.”

October 14: at the University of Navarre, Iruñea-Pamplona: “Navarre and the Americas.”

October 15-16: at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz: “Recovering the North: Companies, Capitals, and Atlantic Projects in the Imperial Hispanic Economy.”

October 23: the University of Pau, in conjunction with Eusko Ikaskuntza (the Basque Studies Society), at the Basque Museum of Baiona: “Research on Basque emigration.”

December 9 at Mondragon University, Arrasate: “The Image and Representation of Basques.”

William Douglass will be in the Basque Country collaborating in these inter-university seminars. For more information about these seminars (in Spanish) click here.

The Center for Basque Studies has more books written and edited by William A. Douglass that you may find interesting, such as: Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, Death after Life: Tales of Nevada, (edited with Carmelo Urza, Linda White, and Joseba Zulaika) The Basque DiasporaGlobal Vasconia, Essays in Basque Social Anthropology and History, and (with Joseba Zulaika) Basque Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (free to download here).

There is even a candid and vivid biography by Miel A. Elustondo, William A. Douglass: Mr. Basque, which will be of interest to anyone who has followed Bill’s work over the years.


Aitaren etxea, Love in Times of Hatred: The Basque Country in the 50s in a New TV Show

Photo taken from the Eitb website.

Aitaren etxea (The father’s house) is a TV show set in the 50s in a small coastal Basque town that goes by the fictitious name of Etxegi. The idea behind the show is to portray how hard life was in the Basque Country after the Spanish Civil War. The impossible love story between the mayor’s daughter, Irene, and Martin, a country boy, will reflect the open wounds that still exist after the  fratricidal civil war between the “winners” and the “losers” in the conflict.

If you want to see the first episode (in Basque and some Spanish) click here. 

On a related theme, War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott, explores the impact of war over a decade in Europe (including the Basque Country) in the 1930s and 1940s.



The Humboldt-Basque Connection

Sheep on Humboldt

Sheep graze along the Humboldt River in this historical photo

Northeastern Nevada Museum

Iker Saitua, PhD student at the Center for Basque Studies, recently published another amazing story in the Elko Daily Free Press. A terrific article combining history, family stories, and his own personal experience. The main protagonist of the article are the Humboldt brothers.  Because, did you know that the state of Nevada was almost called Humboldt? Click here to read it!

You may also find the following book interesting: Selected Basque Writings: The Basques and Announcement of a Publication


Cartel Loreak

Photo from the official website of the film

Loreak (Flowers), a Basque-language film directed by Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga, has been selected to represent Spain at next year’s Oscars. But before being finally selected for the Oscars, the film must still pass two more shortlists. We will follow its progress closely.


Ane’s life takes a turn when, week after week, she starts getting a bouquet of flowers at home. Always at the same hour. And always anonymously. The life of Lourdes and Tere is also affected by some mysterious flowers. Every week someone deposits a bouquet in memory of someone who was important in their lives. This is the story of three women, three lives altered by the mere presence of a few bouquets. Flowers will sprout in them feelings that seemed forgotten … But after all, are nothing but flowers.


If you want to know more about the Basque Cinema, click here.

See also this article at the Guardian.

Basque Lecture Series, here we go!

Last week the students and professors of the Center for Basque Studies once again started the Basque Lecture Series. This tradition, which began some years ago, is one of the most entertaining events during the fall semester.

With these lectures the students learn confidence and skills for future conferences and symposiums. The feedback between the professors and students make these lectures something genuine.

Through the last Thursday in November, every Thursday at 5.15 pm in the Center for Basque Studies (Basque Conference Room, 305, Third Floor), students and professors will give a lecture on a topic that they are researching.

You are all invited!

Last year’s flyer, designed by Iker Saitua

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2015 in Bilbao, Basque Country.

Saturday, September 26, witnessed the grand finale of the 50th Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Bilbao. Relive the event here.

 Video taken for YouTube

If you want to know more about Bilbao or the Guggenheim Museum, check out That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, Building Time: The Relatus in Frank Gehry’s Architecture, and Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, available free to download here. In relation to the event itself, see also Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport.

An interview with Edurne Arostegui: Visiting Scholar from the University of the Basque Country.

  • What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

I was very lucky to have received the Begoña Aretxaga Travel Stipend this year, and the best part was that I got the email on my birthday, making it by far the best present. I’m currently a doctoral student at the UPV/EHU and the opportunity to have access to the library here was something I couldn’t miss out on. It certainly hasn’t disappointed me.

I initially came with the idea of putting myself through a sort of academic boot camp: non-stop reading, note-taking and writing. The CBS is the ideal place to study because of the diversity of materials housed in its really accessible facilities. What I didn’t realize till I arrived is the atmosphere CBS faculty, students, and staff have created along with the ongoing interaction with other visiting scholars. Besides working hard and getting good work done, I’ve had an engaging and worthwhile experience.

  • Can you tell us what the goal of the project is?

My dissertation deals with the construction of Basque-American identity in the American West through the analysis of the stereotypes and imagery presented in works of western fiction and non-fiction, specifically, cowboy dime novels, and the stories of migrants. Although I am a historian through formation, I believe that the use of literary sources contextualized with events in migration history, both from the Basque and American perspective, help shed new light in the understanding of Basque-American identity. The aim is to understand how American society perceived and stereotyped Basque immigrants, and how in turn, second and third generation Basques turned these same stereotypes on their heads in order to create markers of a new hybrid identity.

The Basque migration experience and integration, or lack of, into the host society shaped their identity, not only within their community but also in its outward representation. Once Basque-American identity was assumed, what relationship did these migrants maintain with their homeland and how has it changed up to present? Migration obviously changes identity, while identity marks representation and recognition from both a political and socio-cultural standpoint. Therefore, the study of this process of identity creation helps us understand the actors and forces that change history.

  • Would you say that this research, is quite unique?

Well, I think as academics, we all think our research is unique, or else we wouldn’t be doing it! However, much attention has been given to literary sources, I guess it’s a sexy topic. I’m interested in how American society perceived Basques and how they became a part of the history of the West. Instead of solely focusing on the migrant experience, I aim to understand identity through the lens of the spectator, trying to look past the rose-tinted glasses of pastoral romanticization. Surely, once I get further along in my research it will become more unique and distinctive, or so I hope.

  • What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I’ve read, a lot! I came with a list of sources that I wanted to check out before coming, but it’s always interesting to see what you come across by chance and what other people are doing. My stay has given me the chance to become immersed in all things Basque. I’ve met great people and have probably spoken and listened to more Basque here than in the Basque Country!

  • Are you enjoying the U.S.?

I’m from California so of course I enjoy coming home to the States. That being said, Reno is a completely new experience for me and I like what I see. It’s amazing to be surrounded by the landscape of the places that appear in my research. I never realized how tranquil and inspiring the desert could be, especially its vast and colorful sunsets. Reno has surprised me in many ways and I can’t wait to get another opportunity to return.

Visiting scholar Aritz Farwell at the Center for Basque Studies

What brings you to CBS?

I am completing a doctoral thesis on the political, social, and cultural perspectives that existed about Basque at the start of the twentieth century.


What is the goal of the project?

The primary goal is to discover what the discourses surrounding Basque were like at the time and to see if they were common across many different sorts of texts and contexts.  For example, did what was said about Basque in a political context translate into what was said about it in a zarzuela?  A secondary, future goal, will be to compare the perspectives on Basque of this era to those that came later.


Is the research unique?

Parts of the story are well known.  The early nationalists’ relationship with Basque, for instance, is a subject included in the thesis that has received a good deal of attention.  Other areas are more obscure.  An example of something that has garnered less scrutiny, perhaps, are the practical and ideological reasons behind why Basque was required for certain local government positions at the turn of the century.  But one of the more unique aspects of the research is the approach, which encompasses a more synchronic rather than diachronic sweep of how Basque was understood.  The result of casting a wide net over a shorter period of time is a fairly detailed account of how Basque was perceived, which makes it possible to see that similar themes were attached to the language, and the people that spoke it, across texts of a diverse nature.


What have you completed since arriving?

A good deal—essentially the final section of the thesis, which focuses on Basque in the cultural sphere, which is to say its presence in literature, plays, music, bertso, etc.  The library and the Center are great places to work and everybody here has been very helpful.


Are you enjoying the US?

Very much so.  Being American, visiting Reno is a homecoming of sorts.  But I didn’t know the city or the region and it has been a pleasure exploring another part of the US with my family and the friends I’ve met here.  I hope I’ll have another opportunity to visit again in the future sometime!

Interview with visiting professor Asier Barandiaran from the University of the Basque Country


Asier who came through USAC, is a professor in the University of the Basque Country ( Irakasleen Unibertsitate Eskolan, Hizkuntza eta Literaturaren Didaktika departamentuan). He is also  part of  Basque literature research group, LAIDA coordinated by Jon Kortazar.

  • What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

What brings me here is the good work atmosphere that reigns in the Center for Basque Studies and the spirit of collaboration among scholars in order to do research about anything related with the Basque culture. The CBS is a great plataform within the American culture where dialogue and reflection about contact between cultures can be conctucted and it is a pleasuer to take advantage of it


  • Can you tell us what the goal of the project is?


My aim is to conduct research into the diaspora (Basque emigration is an alternative term) in Basque literature (written in Basque) in order to assess its weight and importance within this literature, as well as analysing what resources, strategies and trends can be seen in its development.

The fact of the diaspora is a fundamental part of Basque culture, but it does not seem to find so much of an echo in the European Basque Country in defining Basque culture. Probably because of this, nor has it been strongly reflected in Basque literature. That is why problably now it is time to pay attention to this topic in Basque Literature in order to become more aware of this important aspect of our culture.

I woul also like to make comparisons with other cultures such as the Irish Diaspora in Literature.



  • Would you say that this research, is quite unique?

The Basque migration or diaspora has been considered from different points of view and its importance has been recognised: the historical, social, cultural and economic angles have been taken into account. However, literature is without a doubt one of the ways human beings have of constructing our individual or collective identity. This way (of approaching the diaspora) has not been extensively pursued in Basque culture in respect of literature, and we hope that both writers and arts administrators will become aware of it so that they can take the literary aspect of such an important part of our reality into consideration, and so strengthen links between the different Basque diasporas in the world.


  • What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I accomplished providing a context of other Basques literatures (written in Spanish or in Englis) to the Basque literature (written in Basque) when it comes to deal with the diaspora (as a topic, as an literary element…). I have also now a clearer map of the course of action in the following months thanks to the many resouces and references that I could find at the Basque Library.

The recent conctact with some Basque oral Poets has given me a new insight about how they see their art and how they see their role in the Basque diaspora.


  • Are you enjoying the U.S.?


Yes I am. This is a special opportunity to learn more about different cultures and different ways of life and I feel very grateful for the help and opportunities given by people living here in order to become my staying more fruitful and enjoyable.



Ismael Manterola Ispizua from the University of the Basque Country visits the CBS


Ismael Manterola Ispizua, art history professor at the EHU/UPV

What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies Ismael?

A couple of years ago I presented my project to obtain the Douglass Scholarship. It was a project I had in mind since then.  In fact I decided to publish a book. In recent years I made some progress on the book so I decided that it would be a good idea to consult the Basque Library and applied for USAC scholarship.

Can you tell us what the goal of the project is?

My aim is to finish the book I am writing. The book is about the transmission of values in the twentieth-century art in the Basque Country. I think there are certain values that artists transmitted throughout the twentieth century, from the modern project of the early twentieth-century to the end of the 90s (values like the trend associations, thinking about identity, the link between art and ethical positions, etc.). Basically, it is the research of a kind of an intergenerational continuity or continuities in Basque contemporary art.

What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I am working very hard and I managed to finish some chapters due the rhythm of work you have in the library. In my opinion it is a good place to work. You can work for 8 straight hours at a time and you have all the books you need to hand.

Are you enjoying the U.S.?

Yes, a lot. I am discovering different aspects of American life very quickly. In addition I am in a USAC program and they organize lot of activities to get to know the country better, especially the cultural life you have here. Besides this, summer in Reno is exciting with an interesting cultural program in different places, but especially in downtown: music, art, cinema…

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