Category: Basque politics (page 1 of 4)

WSFH 45th Annual Conference

The Western Society for French History’s 45th Annual Conference was held on November 2-4 here in Reno, sponsored by our very own Center for Basque Studies and the Santa Clara University History Department. Dr. Sandy Ott led the local arrangements committee with help from numerous members of the CBS staff and students, dedicating countless hours to the conference’s success. There were around 150 speakers and attendees to the 35 panels on diverse topics such as “Imperial Mobilities: Labor, Goods, and Technology between Colony and Metropole” and “Nazism, Neo-Nazism, and Exile the French Basque Country.” To check out the program, visit the WSFH website. I will include a brief description of the conference, however, provided by the society:

The forty-fifth annual conference of the Western Society for French History will be held from November 2-4 in Reno, Nevada. The theme for this year’s conference is “Diasporas, Displacements, and Migrations,” and engages with diverse human experiences of relocation, both forced and voluntary, and invites reflection on large-scale human displacements, both past and present, and the long-term consequences they generate. Our keynote speakers will be Tyler Stovall (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Annette Becker (Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense).

The University of Nevada, Reno is the home to the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies, which is co-sponsoring the conference. The conference will highlight the Basques and their vibrant culture, and participants will be able to sample Basque cuisine at the Friday business luncheon. The Basque experience reflects the conference theme, and our aim is to bring aspects of Basque culture to the program so that participants can appreciate the historic importance of the Basque people in the Great Basin Region of the American West.

This year the conference organizers are introducing a new format: a linked Conference Plenary Roundtable and Conference Workshop.  Following on last year’s excellent discussion at the roundtable “Crisis in French History?” we have planned the roundtable “Addressing Structural Racism in French History and French Historical Studies,” followed by a related workshop in which we hope colleagues can explore in more depth pedagogical questions raised by the roundtable discussion.  If you are interested in exploring strategies for engaging with questions of race in your classrooms, please plan to attend this inaugural Conference Workshop.

As co-sponsorers of the event, we had our own books out and of course, Dr. Ott’s new Living with the Enemy. We also had a collection of posters from the Jon Bilbao Basque Library on display, which really livened up the space.  Numerous questions were asked about the Basques at the registration desk. One professor, although raised in Brittany, had Basque ancestors who had made their way into France. Another had visited the area in the late 1960s, who recalled his travels with much enthusiasm. The attendees seemed genuinely interested in learning more and got the chance to have a Basque-style lunch too. Food is always the best way to learn about a culture!

Yesterday’s post outlines the panel on “Nazism, Neo-Nazism, and Exile in the French Basque Country” and the presentations by Aurélie Arcocha-Scarcia, Mari Jose Olaziregi, and our own Ziortza Gandarias. Dr. Zulaika’s comments resonated with the present and the past of the Basques. Overall, it was a great success.

On a personal note, I had the chance to reconnect with a professor of mine after 10 years. I had seen his name on the program, Dr. Jonathan Beecher, but couldn’t put a face to the name. The moment he walked up to the registration desk, I immediately recognized him. He was on a panel entitled “Flaubert, Marx, and 1848,” with Biliana Kassabova and Dominica Chang, chaired by Naomi Andrews and commented on by Mary Pickering. I had a chance to attend the panel, and as I had read both Flaubert and Marx in Dr. Beecher’s class, “19th Century European Intellectual History,” I was brought back to the days that I began my studies in History. Back then, my focus was on Modern Europe, Germany to be exact. How things have changed! I am now in my sixth year studying Basque migration! Attending that panel made me reflect on my path as a historian, and the many professors and books that have influenced my studies. In that regard, the WSFH conference was a wonderful opportunity to hear different scholars and re-energize my own studies.

Grad Student News: Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain

Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain arrived from Galdakao (Bizkaia) in January from her fieldwork abroad and is in her last year of the Ph.D. program. She is currently writing her dissertation, focused on the analysis of the Basque cultural magazine Euzko-Gogoa, the emblematic leader of the press in the Basque language. As a student, she has presented her papers at numerous conferences in the US and Europe throughout the years and presented this November on a panel for the Western Society for French History’s 45th Annual Conference.

The panel, entitled “Nazism, Neo-Nazism, and Exile in the French Basque Country,” was chaired by Robin Walz from the University of Alaska Southeast, with comments provided by our own Joseba Zulaika. First off, Aurélie Arcocha-Scarcia from the University of Bordeaux spoke of Jon Mirande’s “poetic imaginary and the origins of his neo-Nazism.” Next, Mari Jose Olaziregi from the University of the Basque Country presented “The Nazis, a Contested Site of Memory in 21st century Basque Fiction.” Ziortza finished off the panel with her presentation on Eresoinka, the Basque dance, art, and music group formed in 1937. For Lehendakari Aguirre, it was a cultural embassy to share Basque culture throughout Europe. Ziortza’s presentation was entitled “A Basque Cultural Embassy in France: Exile as a Fantasy Space” and it definitely brought another side of exile into the picture.

Ziortza also presented at our own CBS Multidisciplinary Seminar Series in October. In this case, she gave us a look into one of her dissertation chapters, “Transoceanic-Will.” During the lecture, Ziortza focused on the transatlantic history of Euzko-Gogoa, and how the magazine itself could be considered a symbol of transnationalism. Her work on Basque diasporic identity helps us to understand the common history and collective memory of the Basques as presented in Euzko-Gogoa, and its lasting impression in the world of Euskara, elevating the language to what we understand it as today.

We look forward to Ziortza’s dissertation, which she is studiously and laboriously working on. Zorte on!

CBS Seminar Series: “The Basque Swastika”

CBS Seminar Series Presents Santi de Pablo`s “The Basque Swastika”

Santi de Pablo is professor of Contemporary History at the University of the Basque Country. He specializes in history of the Basque Country and in film history. His last book is Creadores de sombras: ETA y el nacionalismo vasco a través del cine (Originally published in English by the CBS as The Basque Nation on Screen: Cinema, Nationalism and Political Violence in the Basque Country). He enjoyed the opportunity of being William Douglass visiting scholar at our Center in 2009-2010, and now he is researching in the CBS thanks to a USAC grant.

On October 17th he presented in the Center the documentary The Basque Swastika (Una esvástica sobre el Bidasoa), a film produced in 2013 by the Basque film-company EsRec Productions, and directed by Javier Barajas and Javier de Andrés. Santi himself worked as historical advisor to the film, along with professor Ludger Mees.

He explained that the origin of the movie was an academic paper he wrote in 2008 together with a professor of the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid. One day he received a phone-call at his University office from the aforementioned film-company proposing to make a movie about the topic of the paper. Two years later, the film premiered in the San Sebastian Film Festival, one of the most prestigious cinema festivals in Europe.

It’s quite unusual for an academic paper to become a film, but in this case the topic of the article inspired curiosity. The authors had discovered in the Berlin Film Archive a German Nazi documentary from 1944 about the Basque Country (Im Lande der basken), which nobody knew of until that moment. This discovery was stunning because it disclosed the interest of Nazis in Basque culture during the Second World War.

On the one hand, The Basque Swastika is cinema about cinema, as it uncovers the story of Im Lande der basken. On the other hand, it’s a film about the history of the Basques, the Nazis and the Second World War. The documentary recalls that the Basque Government and its president Aguirre and the Basque Nationalist Party fought for the Allies and against the Nazis during World War Two, but also that there were some contacts with occupation forces in France. Both the filmmakers and the historical advisers were aware of the controversy surrounding this topic, but they attempted to explain it in an unbiased way. Actually, both Spanish and Basque public televisions co-produced the film, which was well received, and obtained awards at such international documentary film festivals as Nantes (France) and Guadalajara (México).

The screening inspired a fruitful and interesting debate with the audience. Many thanks, Santi, and zorionak!

 

Faculty News 2017: Sandy Ott

Cambridge University Press published Sandy Ott’s book, Living with the Enemy: German Occupation, Collaboration and Justice in the Western Pyrenees, 1940-1948. In his endorsement of the book, John Merriman (Yale) observes that “her ethnographic approach succeeds beautifully in describing and analyzing the relations between German occupiers and Basques in a place that in some significant ways stands apart from other regions in France. She brings to life the dramatic and complicated ‘hidden’ story of the German occupation…in the Basque Country.” Sandy also contributed to The Oxford Companion to Cheese (Oxford University Press). Sandy conducted further archival research on German POWs in the French Basque Country (1945-1948) and gave a paper on the topic at the annual conference of the Society for French Historical Studies in Washington, D.C. She also lectured at the University of Southampton (UK) on the intersections of anthropology and micro-history. In July, Sandy joined Advisory Board members in the Basque Country for their weeklong excursion. She also (unexpectedly) became interim chair of Communication Studies at UNR, alongside her regular duties in teaching, research and service in Basque Studies. She is also the local organizer of a major French history conference that takes place in Reno soon.

 

    

An Interview with Marsha Hunter, New Ph.D. student at the CBS

It’s my pleasure to introduce the latest addition to our graduate student cohort, Marsha Hunter. After receiving her M.A. in History, Marsha moved from Boise to Reno to start her Ph.D. in Basque Studies. We are glad to have her around and hope to share her interests with you!

What drew you to apply to the Ph.D. program at the CBS?

  • Quality of faculty and staff.

Tell me a bit about your Master’s thesis?

  • This research examines the life of José Villanueva de Amezketa, an urban Basque nationalist who immigrated to southern Idaho in the early 1920s. The majority of first-generation Basque immigrants in this area came from a concentrated rural location of Bizkaia, which normally generated an apolitical attitude toward Basque national politics. The goal of this research is to show how Villanueva, as an immigrant outlier, maintained his Basque nationalist political identity through his international network. This study in a biographical format used the preserved correspondence received by Villanueva, oral history interviews by his family members, and secondary scholarly publications to examine the cultural and political characteristics of the area’s Basque immigrants. A compare and contrast exercise between Villanueva and the general Basque community was used. It identified a transnational immigrant community that maintained and developed a sliding scale of social and political relationships between the homeland and their host country.  The research suggested that the presence of Basque nationalist activity in southern Idaho was larger than suggested by previous scholarly research.

What are your research interests?

  • Exploration of the development and expression of beliefs and activities of different cultures.

What makes your research special? How does it contribute to Basque Studies?

  • Artifacts at the Basque Museum provide information on a larger extent of Basque nationalist activity in the area than previously reported.

What classes are you taking?

  • Basque culture and politics

How does it feel to be at a new university?

  • The faculty and staff have made me feel very welcome.

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

  • Yes, quality of resources/people is exceptional.

Basically, what’s your impression of the Center?

  • First rate.

Are you enjoying Reno?

  • Yes, but I continue to get lost in areas that I should avoid.

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

  • Friends in Boise.

I’m sure we will hear more from our new student and look forward to the progression of her research. Ongi etorri, Marsha!

From the backlist: Empire and Terror

In April 2002 the Center hosted a conference titled “Nationalism, Globalization, and Terror: A Debate on Stateless Nations, Particularism/Universalism, and Radical Democracy.” The conference was ambitious in scope, attracting globally renowned scholars; opportune in timing, coming as it did in the wake of the then relatively recent events of 9/11; and prescient in its findings in light of later international developments.

The Center subsequently published a book that included papers delivered at the conference. Titled Empire & Terror: Nationalism/Postnationalism in the New Millennium and edited by Begoña Aretxaga, Dennis Dworkin, Joseba Gabilondo, and Joseba Zulaika, we think this is a work well worth revisiting some fifteen years after it was first published.

Specifically, the issues is discusses–the nature of democracy and capitalism, the challenge of stateless nations to the established political order, and the rise of international terrorism–are as important today as they were back at the turn of the millennium, indeed arguably even more so. In broad terms, the book addresses the themes of nationalism, globalization, terrorism, democracy, and culture.

Quoting at length some passages from the introduction:

We do not see the concrete and specific cases discussed here in merely particularistic and exceptional terms. Rather we think of them as providing specific political contexts in which are dramatized crucial questions about contemporary relations of power, sovereignty, statehood, ideology, and fantasy. We see them as sites of psychic investments in the particular that nonetheless have implications for the universal dimension. Particularistic claims, such as self-determination, ultimately appeal to universal principles. Moreover, specific interests, if they are not to be merely relational or differential, invariably end up in conflict with other such interests, mediated by a field of power relations that is structured by forms of dominance, subordination, and exclusion . . .

A genuinely democratic society permanently shows the contingency of its foundations, the gap between the ethical moment and the normative order. Critical in this context are antagonisms, which have no objective meaning and which produce empty signifiers with no necessary attachment to any precise content. While authority attempts to establish an objective order of social relationships, it is subverted by antagonisms that lack a definitive ground. At the level of political subjectivity, historical analysis shows that oppositional identities are simultaneously antagonistic to and dependent on the status quo from which their opposition and hence identity is derived. Issues pertaining to antagonism and oppositional identities repose at the center of our reflections . . .

As scholars, we are concerned with issues of particularism/universalism and democracy. The spiraling circle of violence and the narrowing scope of the discussion about it likewise preoccupy us. We see this volume as a contribution to expanding that debate beyond the idea that terrorism is intrinsically evil and therefore can only be condemned, or the notion that it is part of an inevitable clash of civilizations. Situating terrorism within different historical contexts and analyzing how it functions as a stimulus for discourse are the preconditions for opening up that discussion beyond today’s stultifying polarities.

Empire & Terror is available free to download here.

 

Basque Economic Agreement Explained

Check out the following video, part of the Bizkaia Talent initiative and featuring Pedro Luis Uriarte (President of the Bargaining Commission of the Economic agreement from the Basque Government side in 1980), which explains succinctly the very special fiscal system that exists in Hegoalde or the Southern Basque Country.

If you are interested in this topic, check out Basque Economy from Industrialization to Globalization, by Mikel Uranga, free to download here.

See, too, The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia: In the Time of Major Crises, edited by Joseba Aguirreazkuenaga and Xabier Irujo.

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!

March 19, 1624: Representatives of several Basque towns expelled from provincial assembly for not knowing Spanish

Men in stocks in Bramhall, England, 1900. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On March 19, 1624, the council representatives of Líbano de Arrieta (today Arrieta), Castillo y Elejabeitia (today Artea),  Ispaster, Sondika, Leioa, Berango, Lemoiz, Laukiz, Ubidea, and Bakio were expelled from the Bizkaian provincial assembly meeting because “they were not found to possess the necessary proficiency in reading and writing in Castilian [Spanish].” This followed a decree, passed some ten years previously by the provincial assembly on December 10, 1614, which stated that, “henceforth, whoever does not know how to read or write in Romance [a synonym used for Spanish] cannot be admitted to said assembly.” As a postscript to the story, the same assembly member for Laukiz turned up once more at a later meeting of the assembly, and was rewarded for his audacity by being “placed in stocks and a severe judicial process begun against him.”

Information sourced from Iñaki Egaña, Mil noticias insólitas del país de los vascos (Tafalla: Txalaparta, 2001), p. 113.

Language Rights and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and viola Miglio, is a collection of articles by different authors that explore several cases of smaller languages and how they survive within the legal and administrative frameworks of larger, more dominant languages.

Cecilia García de Guilarte: The First War Correspondent on the Northern Front

guilarte

Cecilia García de Guilarte (1915-1989). From ‘Un barco cargado de…’ [A Boat Laden With…], a blog devoted to her life.

It’s a real pleasure to come across the life stories of people who don’t typically make it into the history books, as happened recently when I discovered the figure of Cecilia García de Guilarte. Born in Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, in 1915, she was the first journalist to cover the Northern Front after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

García de Guilarte was the oldest of four children born into a working-class family originally from Burgos. Her father worked at the paper mill in Tolosa, one of the most important companies in the town. Indeed, she also started her working life in the mill. There, influenced by her father’s labor union activities for the CNT, the confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, she took to writing for union publications. Her facility for writing led her, at age 20, to publishing articles for a Madrid weekly, Estampa, signing her name, as she would do thereafter, “Cecilia G. de Guilarte.”

With the outbreak of the war, she continued her work as a journalist, writing for the union’s official publication CNT Norte and becoming the de facto first correspondent to cover the Northern Front (Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Santander, and Asturias), between 1936 and 1937. During this time she secured exclusive stories, such as her interview of the German pilot Karl Gustav Schmidt, who had crashed after the aerial bombardment of Bilbao by Nazi planes in the service of Franco in January 1937. At the same time she met and married Amós Ruiz Girón, the former chief of municipal police in Eibar, Gipuzkoa, who was at the time in the Cuerpo Disciplinario de Euzkadi, a policing force created by the Basque government during the war.

Following the fall of the Northern Front to Franco’s rebel forces, García de Guilarte escaped to Catalonia, from which fled fled to France in 1939 after it, too, fell. While in exile in France she wrote briefly for the newspaper Sud-Ouest before crossing the Atlantic to escape World War II and settling in Mexico with her husband. There she embarked on a productive career in journalism, writing for several journals and newspapers, including many connected to the community of Basque exiles. She was also editor of El Hogar and Mujer. She combined all this with a similarly active political life as a member of the Izquierda Republicana de Euskadi, and she also taught classes in art and theater history at the University of Sonora. As well as all this, she also published voraciously: novels, essays, biographies, and plays.

She was able to return to Tolosa in 1964, although she would have to wait over another decade, and the death of Franco in 1975, before he husband could rejoin her in the Basque Country. Back home, she became the theater critic for the Voz de España, a newspaper published in Donostia-San Sebastián, until it closed in 1979. She died in 1989, having taken an active part in the social and cultural life of Donostia both before and after Franco’s death.

Sources

See the bilingual Spanish/English blog Un barco cargado de…’ [A Boat Laden With…], which covers all aspects of her life and includes numerous photos and interviews: https://unbarcocargadode.wordpress.com/

See, too, an excellent blog post about her life at the following site: http://monografiashistoricasdeportugalete.blogspot.com.es/2014/02/celia-g-gilarte-periodista-de-guerra.html

Further Reading

War, Exile, Justice, and Everyday Life, 1936-1946, edited by Sandra Ott. This multi-authored work traces the impact of both the Spanish Civil war and World War II on people’s everyday lives, with a special focus on (but not limited to) the Basque Country. This work is available free to download here.  

Expelled from the Motherland, by Xabier Irujo. This is a book that, while taking as its central subject matter the life and work of the exiled Basque president or lehendakari, Jose Antonio Agirre, also explores the stories of many other Basque exiles in Latin America and beyond.

Older posts