Category: Academics at the Center (page 1 of 10)

Faculty, Students and Friends of CBS Plant the Tree of Gernika on UNR Campus

Faculty, students and friends of the CBS planted the Tree of Gernika on the UNR campus last week. The event was a commemoration of the sacred tree of the Basques as we sang Gernikako Arbola, and wished the best for the young tree that is now planted right outside of our offices, between the Knowledge Center and the Student union. Many thanks to all who took care of the tree, and enabled its new life on campus!

Visiting Scholar Haritz Monreal Zarraonandia Speaks about Basque Mountaineering at CBS Lecture Series

Hiking and mountaineering associations have important social and political trajectories in the Basque Country. Visiting Scholar Haritz Monreal Zarraonandia (EHU-UPV) presented his research project titled “Basque Mountaineering During the Interwar Period” at the CBS Lecture Series. The lecture covered the interwar period, and detailed how the Basque mountaineering movement both reflected and constructed contemporary political and cultural moods. It also covered the activities and publications of contemporary mountaineering journals such as Jagi-jagi, Mendigoxale, or the Journal of the Basque Mountaineering Federation Pyreneica. Dr. Monreal traced the social motivations behind Basque mountaineering back to the ritual and religious dimensions the practice might have had in the Middle Ages, and situated it in European, particularly French hiking traditions.

2017-06-22, Donostia. Haritz Monreal idazlea, mendiari buruz.

Religious and ritual mountaineering

Cultural hiking: Miguel de Unamuno

The beginnings of mountaineering as a sport

Mountaineering clubs and political parties 1.

Mountaineering clubs and political parties 2.

Mountaineering clubs and political parties 3.

Zorionak to Dr. Kerri Lesh on successful PhD defense!

“If you can’t market in your own language, what you are communicating implicitly then is that Euskara is only worth something when used to market traditional, historic, old products… this is inadmissible, it tramples on the rights of any language that you want to revitalize” (Estitxu Garai, May 12, 2017).

On May 1 2019, CBS graduate student Kerri Lesh defended her PhD dissertation titled “Through the Language of Food: Creating Linguistic and Cultural Value through Basque (Euskara) Semiotics to Market Local Gastronomic Products.” Kerri’s work met with unanimous appraisal from her committee and the audience. Zorionak, Dr. Lesh!

Kerri’s dissertation committee consisted of Sandra Ott (Center for Basque Studies, UNR) and Jenanne Ferguson (Department of Anthropology, UNR) as co-chairs, as well as Ian Clayton (English Department, UNR), Agurtzane Elordui (University of the Basque Country), and Begoña Echevarria (University of California, Riverside).

Kerri spent a year conducting anthropological fieldwork in various locations of the Basque Country, including intensive language immersion at barnetegis (Basque-only language schools) in order to understand the interfaces of culture, language and gastronomy. Her basic research question was:

Amid ever increasing interest in Basque gastronomy, how can value (cultural, economic, social) be created when using the minoritized language, Euskara, to market gastronomic products in working toward language normalization?

In order to answer this basic question, Kerri conducted dozens of formal and informal interviews with actors in the sectors of gastronomy and language maintenance: Michelin-star chefs, gastronomic societies, milk, cider, Txakolina, Rioja Alavesa and beer producers, Basque professors and sociolinguists, NGOs and interest groups.

In her dissertation talk, Kerri discussed the commensality of Basque gastronomic societies or txokos, and their role for Basque culture and language maintenance against the backdrop of changing gender relations. She talked about the “battle of milk” between the producers Kaiku and Euskal Herria Esnea, and the role of products for social reproduction through language. The Basque sagardotegi or cider house is another gastro-space where Basque “authenticity” is produced and consumed. The audience learned the ways “txakoliscape,” as part of the Basque “semiofoodscape,” is a landscape of value, identity, experience, and political and social contestation.

Kerri concluded that further research should be done in order to learn more about what is valued and why, through food and wine products and commensality, in the Basque Country and beyond. She argued that further effort must be made for language maintenance, and tools related to product marketing may continue to be useful in the effort. Finally, she highlighted the antagonisms between authenticity and integrity versus the commodification of language and goods.

 

  

Below are some of the revealing quotes Dr. Lesh presented from actors involved with food, wine and language in the Basque Country. Once again, congratulations, Kerri, and thank you for sharing the results of what seems to have been an intoxicating fieldwork experience!

 

Kerri’s dissertation committee: Sandy Ott, Jenanne Ferguson, Joseba Zulaika and Ian Clayton. Others attended via video conference.

 “We want to demonstrate that we are committed to a civil activity, to the defense of the products. A defense of territory also exists…many times businessmen cannot compete with products that come from outside, often with poor salaries. When defending a local product, we are defending the local producer.” (Luis Mokoroa, Presidente de la Cofradía Vasca de Gastronomía de San Sebastián (President for the Basque Fraternity of Gastronomy of San Sebastian), Terrigastro, February 13, 2018).

“Internationally I am proud and don’t fear retaliation [for using Basque] …but within Spain, you have to be brave to use Basque on the label” (Itxaso Compañon, text message, Oct. 24, 2017).

 “The label is not important, what’s important is the essence and experience you give…it would be an error to lose the essence and think that you have to translate everything”“focusing on key words would be helpful if one wanted to use a language to market” (Agirre, November 24, 2017).

“The women, in the world of Txakolina back then, as well as in other activities, were limited to doing the manual work often, cleaning bottles, labeling them, selling the Txakolina, and dividing up the money…And now, there are a lot of women in the world of Txakolina, things continue evolving.” (Iratxe Zabala, email to author, August 30, 2018).

Zorionak, Joseba! Dr. Zulaika Retires

By Sandy Ott

Joseba Zulaika and I met thirty-six years ago in Donosti. In 1983, he had just joined the faculty at the University of the Basque Country. I had recently become the director of USAC’s first study abroad program in Donosti. Kate Camino was among that first cohort of pioneering USAC students. Little did any of us know that our professional paths would eventually find us all in Reno as colleagues at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies.

Joseba joined the UNR faculty in 1990, twenty-three years after Bill Douglass became the first coordinator of the Basque Studies Program. When Bill retired in December 1999, Joseba became the Center’s first Director. He has played an integral role in the transformation of the Center, now often described by UNR President Marc Johnson as “a jewel in the crown.” During Joseba’s directorship (2000-2005) the number of faculty doubled, in large part owing to the support of Bill Raggio, Joe Crowley, and Bill Douglass and to skillful lobbying by our longstanding Advisory Board member, Pete Ernaut. Joseba was also closely involved in the creation of that Advisory Board, in response to friendly pressure from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bob Mead. The Advisory Board held its first meeting in January 2001, with John Echeverria as its first Chair and Bill Douglass as its Vice-Chair.

As Director of the Center, Joseba also recognized the need to secure support from Basque public institutions. Our Advisory Board and its leadership under John and Bill helped us obtain financial support from the Basque Government and the Diputación de Bizkaia. Joseba’s efforts, as well as Bill’s, resulted in a $60,000 grant from the Basque Government and an annual agreement to support the Center’s development of online courses, publications and conferences. That ongoing support by the Basque Government and other Basque institutions has proved fundamental to the Center’s record of excellence. Joseba’s close involvement with the developing CBS Press began with textbooks for online courses and expanded into various distinguished series, such as the Classics Series, the Basque Literature and the Basque Diaspora Series. Joseba also played an instrumental role in developing the Basque Library as an integral component in our collective mission to generate and disseminate knowledge about the Basques.

During his long and distinguished career, Joseba has received several awards and prizes, most notably among them the coveted Euskadi Prize for his outstanding memoir, That Old Bilbao Moon. The memoir is an “ethnography of desire, an essay tracking a generation’s consciousness.” Its opening paragraph gives the reader a flavor of the amazing journey ahead: “It was the spring of 1999 and a Carnival Monday morning when I returned for a visit to San Felicísimo (“Saint Happiest”)—the Bilbao monastery where in the 1960s, as a teenager and for almost a decade, I tried hard to become a saint, but was finally expelled, an atheist and suicidal (That Old Bilbao Moon, 2014, p. 9).”

Joseba has long tackled daunting topics in his research and writing. Internationally known for his works on terrorism, Joseba will crown his academic career later this year with the publication of his riveting (and admittedly disquieting), forthcoming book, Killing from Las Vegas: Drone warfare and the American Dream (under contract with the University of California Press).

Joseba, we all wish you every happiness and continuing success in your retirement in July. Thank you so much for everything you have done for the Center.

Sandy Ott

Professor of Basque Studies

Additional CBS Lecture on May 7th

Have you been wanting to come to the CBS Lecture Series, but Thursdays do not work with your schedule? Well you are in luck! We have added an additional lecture to the Spring 2019 Lecture Series, but on a Tuesday! Come by UNR’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (MIKC) 305N at 4:30 to 5:30 pm to learn about Basque mountaineering during the interwar period. The presentation will be by CBS visiting scholar, Haritz Monreal. See you there!

For more information on Monreal’s work click here.

Dissertation Defense for Kerri Lesh on May 1st

The Center for Basque Studies is pleased to announce that next Wednesday, CBS graduate student Kerri Lesh will be defending her dissertation titled: “Through the Language of Food: Creating Linguistic and Cultural Value through Basque (Euskara) Semiotics to Market Local Gastronomic Products”.

Her defense will start in MIKC 305N at 9:00 am. Please join us in wishing Kerri our best and congratulations for reaching the final stage!

Kerri Lesh

 

Dr. Ott’s “Evelyne’s Story: A Jewish Basque Infant Heiress versus the General Commissariat for Jewish Affairs”

Last Thursday, as part of the CBS’ Spring 2019 Lecture Series, Dr. Sandy Ott presented a new and fascinating paper, fruit of her archival research last summer in France. There’s no need for fiction with the trove of documents she has found throughout her years rummaging through piles of dossiers.

Dr. Ott began by telling us that her next step in research on the Nazi occupation of Iparralde is to explore more Jewish cases, which she has done with Evelyne Lang’s incredible story of inheritance.

Evelyne’s grandfather, Adolph Lang, was a wealthy land owner with properties throughout France. When transfers of Jewish property to “Aryans” began in occupied France, Lang did his best to circumvent the laws. His son, Robert, had married a Basque heiress, Eliane Etxeberry and together had baby Evelyne. Lang decided to transfer his property to his granddaughter who was just four months old at the time. Casteig, the provisional administrator for the transfer of this property, requested just that from Xavier Vallat, head of the General Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, who granted the deed of inheritance. The question is, what motivated them to make this exception?

Within the case, Basque inheritance traditions play a major role. When Robert and Eliane married, they signed a deed of separation of goods, making Eliane the sole owner of her household. According to the Jewish statutes of the time, Evelyne was considered 3/4 Aryan, and since her mother was full Aryan, Eliane could administer the property. Casteig therefore argued that a legal transaction had occurred, aryanizing this Jewish property by putting it in the hands of baby Evelyne.  Vallant never tried to stop the process, even though he was known as a raging anti-semite. Although we may never know what else went on between the Langs, Casteig, and Vallant, Evelyne’s story provides a glimpse into some of the strategies Jewish families carried out to maintain what belonged to them.

As usual, I can’t wait to hear more about Dr. Ott’s research. For those of you interested, make sure to check out Living with the Enemy, her latest book.

 

CBS Conference on the Work of Basque American Author Frank Bergon

The Center for Basque Studies and the Basque Library organized an extremely successful conference on March 13-14 honoring the work of Basque American author Frank Bergon.

How does the work of a Basque-Nevadan author and professor relate to both his Basque heritage and Western American literature? How has his writing changed over time, confronted the struggle between fact and fiction, and dealt with the nuclear apocalypse? The title of the conference was “Visions of a Basque American Westerner.”

     

The conference gathered ten scholars and writers from the United States and Europe to discuss Frank Bergon’s novels, essays, and critical works from multiple perspectives. Participants included William Heath (Mount Saint Mary’s University), Monika Madinabeitia (Mondragon University), Joseba Zulaika (UNR), Sylvan Goldberg (Colorado College), Zeese Papanikolas (San Francisco Art Institute), Iñaki Arrieta Baro (UNR), David Rio (University of the Basque Country), Nancy Cook (University of Montana), David Means (Vassar College).

The two-day event also featured book presentations, music recitals and dance performances, all open to the general public.

    

CBS Graduate Student Eneko Tuduri Discusses Medieval Art at Lecture Series

 

Eneko presented his talk titled International and Political Influences in the Kingdom of Navarre 1194-1425 through Art.

Since its formation, the kingdom of Pamplona (824) has had a lot of  international influences. By the end of the 12th century, this kingdom turned into the kingdom of Navarre after conquering Tudela (the most important Muslim city in the north after Saragossa). It was then when real “international” connections started. They were especially remarkable with the French territories and with the English crown.

The Church of San Zoilo de Caseda, Navarre, 14th century.

It was through the Saint James way that the Romanesque art entered the north of the Iberian Peninsula. European styles also spread from French settlements in the kingdom of Navarre, or through the dynastic marriages with Basque and English royal families.

A good example of how cultural influences were coming down the Saint James Way was the “Viking” or Northern European symbol on the facade of the church of Santa Maria de Sangüesa. The story of Sigfrid was sculpted in stone, with two scenes depicting how the hero gets the magic sword from the dwarf smith, and how the hero kills the dragon. This representation is typical of northern European countries, as we can see in the carvings from Hylestad stavekirkein Norway.

The dynastic marriages allowed that the high-quality art of Europe would reach Navarre to all the different fields. The Lemoges enamel art or the “champlevé” was already in Navarre for the marriage between Richard the Lionheart and the princess Berengela of Navarre. The magnified altar piece of the monastery of San Miguel de Aralar (end of the 12th century) is one of the most impressing examples of Lemoges enamel art. According to some experts, the altarpiece was the present for this weeding.

Finally, during the 13th and 14th centuries, the new French artistic style gothic art spread in Navarre thanks in part to the French origin of the kings of Navarre. One of the best examples is the Barbazana chapel in the Cathedral of Iruña-Pamplona, the burial place of the bishop Arnauld of Barbazan in power from 1318 to 1355. The chapel is covered with a star shaped-vault, which has an origin in England, most specifically in the Cathedral of Southwell, according to some experts. This is something not very surprising because in the construction site of the cloister, just where this chapel is located, we can find the trace of several European master builders as Guillermo Inglés (William the English).

The Pyrenaic kingdom will stay for the next century as an important European kingdom, in some cases with art at the same level of the best European capitals.

 

The Greenman of San Juan Bautista de Eristain, Navarre, locally known in Basque as Basajaun (“the lord of the forest”).

Spring 2019 CBS Lecture Series

This semester we a have an exciting line-up of lectures starting on March 7th! The Lecture Series will feature CBS professors Sandra Ott and Mariann Vázci, Jon Bilbao Basque Library Intern Mónica Buxeda, our two new graduate students Eneko Tuduri and Nerea Eizagirre, Anthropology professor Jenanne Ferguson, and Spanish professor Tania Leal.

As usual, lectures are on Thursdays from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm in MIKC 305N. Admission is free, so stop by and learn about the amazing research developed by the faculty and students at UNR!

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