Category: Academics at the Center (page 1 of 3)

Gernika: voices after the bombs

Gernika exhibit posterThe bombing of cities and civilians during wartime has been a constant in history almost since planes became war guns. On April 26, 1937, Gernika, the sacred city of the Basque people, was brutally attacked and destroyed by the Nazi Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force, acting under the command of the Spanish General Francisco Franco.  More than 2,000 people were killed.

The bombing of Gernika was one of the first actions of the Condor Legion, a real-life training ground for the Nazi’s Blitzkrieg warfare. The methods developed by this unit served as a model for the bombings by the Luftwaffe during World War II.

Eighty years after this event, with the screaming and cries of those being bombed all around the world on television and social media, the voices of those who witnessed the destruction of Gernika remind us that suffering is real.

The Jon Bilbao Basque Library is opening the exhibit Gernika: Voices after the Bombs. Its goal is precisely to give voice to whose who suffered the bombing and its aftermath. The exhibit comprises a selection of six witnesses testimonials about the pain experienced by Gernika’s inhabitants. These testimonials have been translated into English, audio-recorded, and complemented with a mural of pictures of the ruins of Gernika.

Gernika exhibit photograph wall

The exhibit has been developed by Xabier Irujo, from the Center for Basque Studies, and Iñaki Arrieta Baro and Shannon Sisco, both from the Basque Library. They had the support of Mikel Amuriza, Edurne Arostegui, Daniel Fergus, Jill Stockton, Kathleen Szawiola, Irati Urkitza-Ansoleaga, Kyle Weerheim, and Joseba Zulaika in translations, marketing, and multimedia development.

Opening today, you can visit Gernika: Voices after the Bombs until the end of October at the window exhibit case at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

Dr. Irujo’s new book: Gernika, 26 de abril 1937

This Wednesday, April 26 marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika, during which the Nazi Luftwaffe and fascist Italian forces carried out a devastating aerial bombing of the market town for Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War, leaving thousands dead. Our own Professor Irujo has published extensively on the topic, and today we’d like to share the latest fruit of his labor: Gernika, 26 de abril 1937, published by the Editorial Crítica, part of Planeta de Libros, España.

Here’s a translation of the synopsis provided by the publisher:

A necessary book to clarify many of the lies about the bombing of Gernika and its hidden aspects in the public light to this day.

The bombing of Gernika is a very complex event, combining military, strategic, ideological and political aspects, as well as personal interests. Generally, it has been studied from the point of view of its victims, that is, from below. This book is a study of the logic underlying the attack and a detailed description of the bombing’s planning, organization, and execution. It is therefore a study of the bombing from the point of view of its engineers, a study “from above.” The book answers some of the basics of this story, namely who gave the order of attack, why Gernika was chosen, what resources the perpetrators had, how Gernika was bombed, why Gernika was bombed to the point of its disappearance, and how many fatalities were caused by the bombing.

Gernika was a turning point in the history of terror bombings and also the prologue of the subsequent saturation bombings of World War II. For the first time, German air command experimented a combination of ‘carpet bombing’ and ‘chain bombing’ in Gernika. Flying from three to six degrees deep in closed formations through a narrow air corridor, successive groups of bombers unloaded a novel mixture of explosive and incendiary projectiles over the urban area of ​​Gernika that was barely 1 km2, while ground attack aircraft and fighters created a ‘ring of fire’ around the village by machine-gunning civilians from the air. The effect was devastating.

The book also addresses an issue closely linked to the history of the bombing: General Franco ordered everyone to lie about the bombing of Gernika on April 27, less than 24 hours after the attack. Specifically, Carlo Bossi’s telegram includes Franco’s order to deny the bombing and denounce “the fiery system of Reds burning all urban centers before withdrawal.” The negationism resulting from this policy of the dictatorship has given rise to subsequent historiographic reductionism. Franco’s order has made this historical fact one of the most paradigmatic frauds of twentieth-century historiographic revisionism.

For anyone interested in this tragic event, this book is a must read.

We’d also like to bring your attention to a new review of Dr. Irujo’s book Gernika, 1937: The Market Day Massacre, by Ian Patterson for The American Historical Review, it’s definitely worth reading!

An Interview with Saranda Frommold, a visiting scholar from the Freie Universität Berlin

We had the pleasure to welcome Saranda Frommold to the CBS last month, where she conducted research for her Ph.D. in Political Science at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her dissertation looks at the political relations between Mexico and Spain with regard to ETA exiles, and we had the chance to hear more about her work during her lecture and many encounters. She brought new perspectives and ideas to the Center and had an energy that would be difficult to beat!

 

Saranda is born and raised in Berlin. She studied Spanish Philology, Political Science, and Ancient American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, finishing with a master’s degree and continuing on to her Ph.D. The following is an interview so you too can learn more about this amazing researcher.

 

  • What brought you to the Center for Basque Studies?

During my fieldwork in the Basque Country in 2016, I met the professors Xabier Irujo and Joseba Zulaika, who told me about the Center for Basque Studies in Reno and invited me for a research stay. Several other people I spoke to during my research in the Basque Country also recommended me to go to the Center for a research stay. So I decided to go and spend three weeks in Reno.

  • What is the goal of your project? How far along are you?

My doctoral project deals with “The political relations between Mexico and Spain regarding Basque exile to Mexico (1977-2000).” It’s currently my third year of Ph.D. studies and I’m in the process of writing, because I have already done field work in Mexico and Spain. The goal is to finish my dissertation in 2018.

  • What makes your research unique? What do you enjoy about it most?

I think this research is unique because, first of all, it has not been studied yet. Besides, it includes a lot of empirical evidence like interviews and documents from archives that highlight a different perspective on foreign policy than the media’s. Finally, it is a contribution to the understanding of a part of Basque exile that we almost don’t know. In the last years, I  have really enjoyed my research, because I have learned so much about how to do an investigation, how foreign policy works and that politics are much more complicated than they seem at first sight.  I have especially enjoyed interviewing so many different people, who were so generous to share their experiences, opinions, and perspectives with me and made me feel that this topic should really be investigated.

  • What have you accomplished here at the Center?

At the Center, I was able to do research in the library and the archive, talk to experts in Basque Studies and present my project in the Spring Seminar Series.

  • Has the Center for Basque Studies helped you in any way?

It was a great pleasure to be at the center. The library and the archive really helped me, because I could find material that I had not found in any other place. Everybody was very friendly and gave me a lot of support in my research. Besides talking to experts in Basque Studies, it was a wonderful opportunity to better understand my own research, find new conclusions and have a deep academic exchange.

  • Did you enjoy the U.S.? What did you see beyond Reno?

I had a great time in the U.S. and had the opportunity to visit San Francisco, Pyramid Lake, Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Death Valley, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

  • When will you be back?

Hopefully, I will be back soon to personally give  a copy of my finished thesis to the library and see all of you again!

We look forward to that visit and wish you great luck Saranda! Come back soon!

Spring 2017 Basque Multidisciplinary Seminar Series

This semester, like almost every semester, the CBS is holding a Seminar Series. Here’s a round-up of the lectures given thus far and a sneak peak of the coming presentations!

Professor Douglass kicked off the series with his paper entitled “Basques in Cuba,” based on his research and the conference held in Havana in 2015 entitled “Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi.” Douglass shared many anecdotes and the audience responded with many questions, carrying on the discussion well after the hour had quickly gone by.

Next up, Saranda Frommold, a PhD candidate at the Freie Universität Berlin,  shared her dissertation findings on “The Political Relations between Mexico and Spain regarding Basque Exile to Mexico (1977-2000).” She has spent three weeks at the Center, continuing her research. The presentation was thought-provoking and also ended in a lively question and answer session. Stay tuned for our interview with Saranda. We will miss her at the CBS.

Last week, I presented a paper entitled “Memoirs of Mobility and Place: Portrayals of Basque-American Identity,” written for a literature class, so a little out of my historical comfort zone. I must say, it went well, and I was excited to recommend Mountain City, by Gregory Martin, to most of my audience. It’s definitely a good read! I compared Martin’s portrayal of Basque communities in the West to that in Sweet Promised Land, Robert Laxalt’s famed memoir.

Next week, March 29 from 12:30-1:30, our Basque Librarian, Iñaki Arrieta Baro, will be presenting on “Bertsolaritza: Kultur Artea Network.” This will be a nice addition to our showcase on Bertsolaritza. Be sure to come visit and see the exhibit!

April 5 is sure to be a busy lecture day. Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain, a PhD candidate here, will present on “Euzko-Gogoa: Gender and Nation,” as a part of her own dissertation research. Mikel Amuriza will then follow, giving a talk about tax systems. Mikel is a visiting scholar from the Diputación de Bizkaia, and will be with us for a few more months. We’ll be sure to post an interview soon!

Professor Ott will present on April 12, giving a talk on “German P.O.W.s in Post-War France,” part of her ongoing research on the topic. I’m sure it will be full of anecdotes and more!

Lastly, we have the pleasure to have Professor Boehm from the Anthropology department, as well as Women’s Studies and GRI, present on her recently published book. Her conference is entitled “Disappearance and Displacement in an Age of Deportation,” and I’m sure it will bring up many current events and a discussion of what is going on in the world around us.

Be sure to stop by from 12:30-1:30 on Wednesdays for our seminar series. Bring your own brown bag, sit back, and enjoy!

Conferencing on the East Coast with Amaia and Edurne

Last week, from the 1st to the 7th, I had the pleasure of attending the Southern American Studies Biennial Conference “Migrations and Circulations” at the University of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA) with my colleague Amaia Iraizoz. We took advantage of our trip to the East Coast and visited Washington D.C. and New York City as well. So I’ve taken a moment to share some of our experiences with you, our loyal readers.

Richmond’s Capitol Building

After an early flight out to Richmond, VA, we took the chance to walk around the capital and enjoyed a delicious dinner. We were exhausted from the trip, but the warm weather really encouraged us to explore the city. I’ll be sure to return! The following day, after an hour-long bus ride, we arrived in Williamsburg, a beautiful colonial town, rich in history.

Downtown Williamsburg

Walking through the streets downtown, you feel immersed in the setting, especially since every building is well taken care of and as part of a living history museum of sorts, you bump into people dressed in 18th-century garb. However, we had a conference to attend, so that took us to the University of William and Mary.

Amaia presenting on her dissertation

At the start of my presentation

Like many East Coast colleges, the campus was full of brick buildings and spacious lawns. The event was held at the College of Education, which was conveniently located. The conference brought together a vast array of researchers, dealing with diverse topics. Amaia and I were a bit exotic in our research though, but those who attended our presentations were full of questions about Basque migration and what we do at the Center for Basque Studies. A side note: at the opening  reception, I was surprised to find guindillas, those delicious pickled peppers often served with pintxos or beans. As expected, I had more than just a few…

Conference Selfie

Blurry pic of a guindilla!

We took the train to D.C. where our host, Sam Zengotitabengoa, a member of our board, picked us up and took us on a tour of the town. We couldn’t have had a better guide! He told us about the Basque community on the East Coast and his upbringing there. We even visited the Gernikako Arbola that was planted last year. He also pointed out all the best places to visit and let us stay at his home. We hope to return the favor some day, Sam was amazing!

Representing Nevada!

Washington Monument Sunset

We spent the final two days in New York City. What an intense place! I’ve never felt like such a West-coaster till I visited this city. Everyone and everything seemed to be in movement around me! We had two intense days, seeing all of the sights, including biking around Central Park and going to the Top of the Rock. However, we were on a quest for Basques!

Bikes in Central Park

Top of the Rock

We visited the Delegation of the Basque Country in the United States, and were warmly welcomed by Ander Caballero (the delegate), Unai Telleria (economic development officer), and Felipe Victoria (institutional affairs officer). They wanted to know more about our research and then told us a bit about what they do in New York. We spent quite a bit of time with them and learned more about the delegation’s mission.

Inside the office with the Lehendakari

Unexpectedly, but a testament to Basques around the world, we bumped into Francisco’s Centro Vasco in downtown Manhattan. It’s a shame it was closed, but we’ll be back next time. Unfortunately, the New York Euskal Etxea was also closed, so that’s on our list as well.

Next time Francisco’s!

As you can imagine, we returned to Reno exhausted, but we’re back in action at the Center. We had an intense trip, but it was worth every moment. Till the next conference!

“Basques in Cuba” : William A. Douglass to lecture at the CBS

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 22, from 12:30-1:30, Professor Emeritus William A. Douglass will give a lecture on “Basques in Cuba” at the Center for Basque Studies. He will inaugurate the Spring 2017 Basque Multidisciplinary Seminar Series the Center organizes, presenting on a topic explored in Basques in Cuba, a collection of articles edited by Professor Douglass and published after the eleventh international ‘Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi” Congress held in Havana, Cuba in 2015. Here’s a brief description of the volume:

Taking as their inspiration and cue Jon Bilbao’s book Vascos en Cuba, 1492–1511, the authors of this book, a collection of international academics, take up the subject of the involvement of the Basque people in Cuba from a variety of viewpoints and analytical and theoretical perspectives. The Basque Country has had a long and varied relationship with Cuba, its people, and its history. The chapters in this volume trace that connection based on diverse topics and viewpoints: the representations of Basques in classic Cuban poetry and Cuba as a topic in the nineteenth-century Basque novel; the involvement of Basques in the African slave trade, the role of the Tree in Gernika in Cuba’s Templete monument, the service of Basque parliamentarians and soldiers in Spain’s former colony, and the politics of Basque priests on the island are all treated, as well as much more. There are also chapters that consider the involvement of Basques regionally, in places such as Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Vueltabajo, and Havana. Edited by renowned Basque scholar William A. Douglass, this volume provides an important contribution in reclaiming a mostly neglected history. (from the back cover)

Be sure to attend if you happen to find yourself in Reno, and stay tuned for the seminar series schedule, you won’t want to miss out!

Sandra Ott: Faculty News Roundup

Our faculty here at the CBS sure is an inspiration when it comes to work ethic, and Professor Ott is no exception. This semester, she has taught the “Basque Culture” capstone course to 38 undergraduates and two graduate students, myself included. This course really helps to spread awareness of the Basques throughout our campus community, and the students are both engaged by the material and also participate actively. Dr. Ott is also supervising her graduate student, Kerri Lesh, and coordinating an independent study course with her on the anthropology of food.

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Stemming from her research interest in German POWs in postwar France, particularly the POW camp at Polo-Beyris in Baiona, Dr. Ott has been reading French sources on the POWs who were sent to Iparralde and neighboring Bearn from May 1945 onward, to work in local town halls, to clear German mines on the Basque coast, and to work on farms. She is interested in this episode of Franco-German relations in the postwar period, when many of these young Germans longed to escape across the Pyrenees into Spain and make their way back home. Next semester, she is planning to continue working on this research project, in preparation for archival research during the summer in both Pau and Baiona.

On top of these new interests, her manuscript, Living with the Enemy: German Occupation, Collaboration and Justice in the Western Pyrenees, 1940-1948, is now being proofread for publication by Cambridge University Press, which issued a contract for the book in November 2015. It is set to come out in 2017, in both paperback and cloth editions.

Professor Ott has also found the time to present and publish several papers during the past year. In November 2015, she presented a paper on “Creating a Realm of Memory for the ‘Swallows’ of Maule: Spanish Female Factory Workers in the Pyrenean Borderlands” in Chicago for the annual conference of the Western Society for French History.

In March, she talked about Basques in occupied France at the University of San Francisco, as well as presenting another paper, entitled “Double Think in Occupied and Liberated France: A Test Case from the Western Pyrenees,” for the annual conference of the Society for French Historical Studies in Nashville, at Vanderbilt University.

During the summer of 2016, to mark her 40th anniversary in the province of Xiberoa, Dr. Ott gave a public lecture in Maule on her early years of fieldwork in Santazi (1976-1977) and her current research interests (the trials of suspected collaborators in liberated Pau). More than eighty people attended the event, including three generations of one Santazi family and several people who had experienced the German occupation of Iparralde.

In September 2016, Oxford University’s journal, French History, published her article, “Cohabitation and Opportunistic Accommodation in Occupied France: A Test Case from the Western Pyrenees.”  She also had the chance to spend a wonderful weekend with members of the Chino Basque community—thanks to Advisory Board member Mike Bidart—and presented her 1985 documentary film, “The Basques of Santazi,” at the Chino Basque Club, alongside the screening of Amama. The event was attended by more than 50 spectators.

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Professor Ott with director Asier Altuna at the Chino Basque Club in September

In November 2016, Professor Ott’s presentation, “A Pro-Vichy Mayor and His Indiscreet Ladies: Cohabitation and Accommodation in a Basque Village under German Occupation,” was filmed for H-France in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the annual conference of the Western Society for French History.

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A view of Santazi

For those of you who have read Dr. Ott’s Circle of Mountains, an ethnography of a Basque sheepherding community in Santazi in the province of Xiberoa, you will appreciate the amount of fieldwork she carried out for the endeavor. Professor Ott has visited the community and her host families every year since 1976, as celebrated last summer. In October of this year, a terrible, rapid fire completely destroyed the farmhouse of her closest friends in Xiberoa, whom she had known for nearly forty years. Luckily the fire began in the evening and not in the middle of the night. Both family members and all livestock survived the blaze. The community and the province rallied behind the family in extraordinary ways that reflect core rural Basque values, especially mutual aid. Local people at once took food, clothing, and household items to the town hall for the family’s use. The community also opened a bank account for them to which many donations have been made. Local people also organized a kantaldi, or singing festival, for the family in a nearby village. The spirit of the lehen aizoa, first neighbors, endures!

Professor Ott is quite the inspiration for us all. We look forward to reading your new book and the fruits of your new endeavors.

For now, check out War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946,  edited by Dr. Ott: http://basquebooks.myshopify.com/collections/books-by-title/products/war-exile-justice-and-everyday-life-1936-1946

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Joseba Zulaika: Faculty News Roundup

Professor Zulaika has been busy this semester! Although he is currently working on a book on drone warfare, he has had the time to publish several articles. “The Real and the Bluff: On the Ontology of Terrorism” was published in the Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies, while “El ogro de la realidad” was written as an Epilogue to P. Eser and S. Peters, El atentado contra Carrero Blanco como lugar de (no-) memoria. In Anthropology News’ June edition, he produced “A Tale of Two Museums.”  Finally, his paper “El mapa y el territorio: Cuestiones epistemológias y ontológicas sobre terrorismo” came out in Relaciones Internacionales.

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In the past year, Dr. Zulaika gave the keynote address “The Passion and Resurrection of a City” at the Conference titled Euskal Hiria, in Bilbao, on November 22, 2015. He then gave a talk to the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Basque Country (Donostia-San Sebastián) on January 27, 2016, entitled “The Passion of the Real.” In March, he gave a talk to the anti-drone protesters at Creech Air Base, with whom he has established  relationships for his research, entitled “Truth and the Lunatic Fringe.” He presented the paper “Images, Fantasy, and the Law: The Limits of the Nation-State and the Manufacturing of Terror” at the conference on Law and Image held in Birkbeck, University of London, in June. At the Summer University of the Basque Country (Donostia-San Sebastián), he presented “Mundu txikia mundu handitik nola ikusi eta alderantziz” at the conference on Basque Nationalism in the 21st Century.

He then took part in the ceremony establishing the William A. Douglass Chair in Basque Cultural Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with the talk “Writing Basque Violence.” For more information about this event, check out our blog post from  September.

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As part of our Fall 2016 Basque Multidisciplinary Seminar Series, Dr. Zulaika presented on his current research, comparing drone warfare to hunting and desire, talking us through his research methods and theories, and providing a captivating analysis of the way warfare is experienced. We look forward to reading your work Professor Zulaika!

Don’t forget to check out That Old Bilbao Moon for a fascinating look at the city of Bilbao.

An Interview with Cristina Fernández, visiting artist at the CBS

You may have read our post on Monday on one of our visiting artists, but it’s now Cristina Fernández’s turn in the spotlight. Cristina is a native of Seville, where she received her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Seville. She then moved to the Basque Country and obtained an MA in Contemporary, Technological, and Performative Arts last year from the University of the Basque Country. We are very pleased to introduce her as part of our visiting artists residency program.

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  • What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies? The Center for Basque Studies is linked through a collaborative project to the university where I studied.  I will be here for two months.
  • What is the goal of your project? The goal of my project is artistic practice. My research in Reno has to do with the city and how we experience it through the images that people upload onto social websites, so the aim of this project is to somehow define how the city itself participates in these networks.
  • What makes your research unique? My work focuses on physical behavior and how we glance at images when we look through the web and begin to create labels. I try to analyze the use of the internet and multimedia files as recycled material for artistic creation, displaying the accumulated empowerment that we have come to associate with images since the very establishment of social websites in 2002.
  • Accordingly, I have created categorizations and labels to effectively sort groupings of data, reaffirming the idea of the disintegration of the relationship between the actual image from the labels we have come to associate with them.
  • What have you accomplished since you arrived? I am still sorting and organizing images. This month, I will develop the final images.
  • Has the Center for Basque Studies helped you in any way (library resources, people)? They have helped me and are friendly people, making us more comfortable here.
  • Are you enjoying the U.S.? Yes, everything is new for me. There are different and interesting people everywhere and the place is very attractive. It is a new experience.
  • What have you missed the most since you’ve been here? Definitely food. I think the dishes in Spain are more elaborate and attractive with fruits, vegetables, meat, fish … quality. But it is nice to try other kinds of food.

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If you’d like to see some of her work, please visit her website: mcristinafernandez.com

 

 

An Interview with Julen Agirre Egibar, visiting artist at the CBS

Julen Agirre Egibar is one of two visiting artists at the CBS this semester. Originally from Azpeitia, a town in the middle of Gipuzkoa, he received his BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country (EHU/UPV) and is now finishing his PhD dissertation, set to defend next spring.

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  • What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies? How long will you be here?

The reason that I´m here at the moment is because I obtained a grant from the Fine Arts Faculty (EHU/UPV) in order to do an artistic project in the city of Reno at the Center for Basque Studies. The University of the Basque Country and the CBS at the University of Nevada, Reno have a collaboration program for artist residencies. I´m staying in Reno for two months, having arrived at the end of September and returning at the beginning of December.

  • What is the goal of your project?

My artistic project’s name is ZENTER, and it is connected to my dissertation. I’m carrying out an analysis of Reno, more concretely, I am interested in the urban space that is between the city´s center – downtown in this case – and the periphery. The ZENTER project focuses on this intermediate place, because, in my opinion, these spaces still are not active in a sense, and contain a lot of tensions. This study matches the conclusions in my dissertation. I hope to create an archive and material, in order to bring it into my sphere of work.

  • What makes your research unique?

I don´t know if my research is necessarily unique, but I know that it is a very concrete research field. I am interested in investigating the concept of disturbing strangeness, and, in a sense, I try to demonstrate this concept in places like houses, cities, and non-spaces (suburbs). 

  • What have you accomplished since you arrived?

The city of Reno, precisely its downtown area, is very well adapted to my research criteria, and this feature is very important to the development of my artistic project.

  • Has the Center for Basque Studies helped you in any way (library resources, people)?

For a start, I have a very appropriate space at the Center for Basque Studies to carry out my work, so I am grateful to Joseba Zulaika and the rest of the people at the center. All of its resources, in general, are useful for me.

  • Are you enjoying the U.S.?

This is the second time that I have stayed in the U.S. and  I am obviously enjoying it. I mention the U.S. in my dissertation many times. On the one hand, I analyze the city of Los Angeles, and on the other, I have introduced some American artists, among whom the filmmaker David Lynch, whose work takes up the main idea of my dissertation, stands out.

  • What have you missed the most since you’ve been here?

I don´t know, I think that I haven’t missed anything since I got here, quite the opposite, this is an excellent experience for my artistic career.


We are happy to have Julen here with us and hope he enjoys his stay. He is a welcome addition to our center.

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