Category: Basque sports (page 1 of 6)

Mariann Vaczi presents at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association

CBS professor Mariann Vaczi presented her current research at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. The title of her presentation was “Catalonia`s Human Towers: Nationalism, Associational Culture, and the Politics of Performance” focusing on the political deployment of physical culture in the current Catalan sovereignty process. Vaczi`s current research project is based on 1,5 years of fieldwork as a human tower performer in Barcelona, and draws parallels between alternative routes to nationalist mobilization through sport in the Basque and Catalan contexts. The panel, titled “Commemorating and coming to terms with the past” was chaired by James Deutsch from the Smithsonian Institution, which hosted both Basque and Catalan cultural projects at their summer festivals.

Dr. Vaczi`s anthropological work focuses on the interfaces of sport, politics, culture and society in the Basque and Catalan contexts. Her main work Soccer, culture and society in Spain: An ethnography of Basque fandom (Routledge 2015) gained positive critical acclaim internationally, and is now being translated into Spanish.

 

   

“Spanish soccer is on top of the world, at international and club level, with the best teams and a seemingly endless supply of exciting and stylish players. While the Spanish economy struggles, its soccer flourishes, deeply embedded throughout Spanish social and cultural life. But the relationship between soccer, culture and national identity in Spain is complex. This fascinating, in-depth study shines new light on Spanish soccer by examining the role this sport plays in Basque identity, consolidated in Athletic Club of Bilbao, the century-old soccer club located in the birthplace of Basque nationalism.

Athletic Bilbao has a unique player recruitment policy, allowing only Basque-born players or those developed at the youth academies of Basque clubs to play for the team, a policy that rejects the internationalism of contemporary globalised soccer. Despite this, the club has never been relegated from the top division of Spanish football. A particularly tight bond exists between fans, their club and the players, with Athletic representing a beacon of Basque national identity. This book is an ethnography of a soccer culture where origins, nationalism, gender relations, power and passion, lifecycle events and death rituals gain new meanings as they become, below and beyond the playing field, a matter of creative contention and communal affirmation.

Based on unique, in-depth ethnographic research, this book investigates how a soccer club and soccer fandom affect the life of a community, interweaving empirical research material with key contemporary themes in the social sciences, and placing the study in the wider context of Spanish political and sporting cultures. Filling a key gap in the literature on contemporary Spain, and on wider soccer cultures, this book is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in sport, anthropology, sociology, political science, or cultural and gender studies.” Routledge, 2015

 

 

From the Seeds of Jai Alai to the Streets of London

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

By Iñigo Medina Gracia

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

CBS professor Mariann Vaczi interviewed by New York Times for report about upcoming King`s Cup final, and its whistling controversies

‘Why does the Spanish national anthem have no lyrics?’ a joke went before the 2015 Spanish King`s Cup final between Athletic Bilbao and FC Barcelona. ‘Because it’s whistled!’ Jeering the Spanish royal family and the national anthem at soccer games catalyses spectacular debates over sovereignty, state–region relations, and the freedom of expression.

CBS professor Mariann Vaczi, who has published about sport and nationalisms in Spain, was interviewed by the New York Times for a report about the upcoming King`s Cup (Copa del Rey) final between Sevilla and FC Barcelona, and the championship`s whistling controversies in a tense political climate of Catalan secessionism. See the report here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/sports/barcelona-copa-del-rey-final.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fsports&action=click&contentCollection=sports&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront

The report also drew from Vaczi`s research article titled “Football, the Beast and the Sovereign,” from which the following are excerpts:

Tension was palpable as we were roaming the streets of Madrid in May 2012 before the Spanish King’s Cup final between the Basque Athletic Bilbao and the Catalan FC Barcelona. This championship always represented Spain’s centralist powers, and now it would be played between two teams from regions of marked Republican and secessionist aspirations. King Juan Carlos himself was not going to show up for the final that bore his name, as he was resting off the hip injury he had procured at a safari in Botswana. Instead, his son Prince Felipe represented the royal family. Fifty-five thousand Basque and Catalan football fans packed into Madrid’s Calderón stadium. The Spanish national anthem was reduced to a mere 27 seconds to mitigate the embarrassment of its furious whistling, but that was not the only highlight of the anti-monarchy protest. Basque and Catalan fans were jumping and waiving pro-independence flags, savoring the moment as they sang together the well-known children’s song to mock the king’s wild game hunt:

“An elephant was balancing

On a spider’s web

And as he saw he didn’t fall

He called another elephant.

Two elephants were balancing

On a spider’s web

And as they saw they didn’t fall

They called another elephant

Three elephants…”

It went on and on, insistently, all the way to 15 elephants. With the seventh, I almost pitied the future king Felipe, who endured the insult with unimpassioned face. With the 10th, the elephants turned into a haunting specter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quf8AjhX0gs#action=share

The first notable football game whistling goes back to 1925 to the regime of Primo de Rivera, who had just overthrown the constitutional government in 1923 with a military coup d’état. The military dictatorship suspended the 1876 constitution, dissolved the Spanish Parliament, and banned political parties and regional governments. The friendly match between FC Barcelona and C.E. Júpiter took place in June 1925 in Catalonia. At half time, when the Royal Marines played the Spanish Marcha Real, fans whistled the anthem so furiously that the Marines, confused as to why the ‘Spaniards’ whistled ‘their own anthem’, switched to their God Save the Queen. To their further bafflement, the British anthem met with enthusiastic applause. The event had major political repercussions. The stadium was shut down for three months, and the president of FC Barcelona was exiled from Spain. According to anecdote, the Les Corts stadium would be re-opened only after 12 religious practitioners blessed it in order to exorcise the ‘malevolent separatist spirits’ that had contaminated it

The post-dictatorship tradition of king jeering started in 2009, when Athletic Club and FC Barcelona qualified for the King’s Cup final. As King Juan Carlos emerged in the VIP booth of Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, the Spanish national anthem would be played, but it was not heard: 55,000 Basques and Catalans were standing, holding innumerable Basque and Catalan national flags high, whistling the anthem and the royal family. The state-owned Radio Televisión Española reduced the sound of the whistling and amplified the anthem to audible levels, which stirred a political controversy over censoring an act of free expression.

 

In spite of the National Court decision that declared that whistling fell within the category of free expression, pro-monarchy voices continued to call for the criminalization of whistling each time the Basque and Catalan teams qualified for the Cup Final. ‘Eighty-seven years later’, an article went before the 2012 King’s Cup final, ‘[Madrid province president] Esperanza Aguirre evokes the ghost of the dictator Primo de Rivera, who shut down Barcelona’s Les Corts stadium’, as Aguirre called for the cancellation of the final if fans whistled.

 

‘Where shall we put these 70,000 pigs, because pigs they are, these Basque and Catalan football fans who attend the King’s Cup final to insult and profane the symbols of Spain?’ a TV show host of La Ratonera declared in March 2015. ‘I would not even call them Basques and Catalans’, a caller added in a tone symptomatic of the tensions the game generated. ‘They are separatists, separratas “separatist rats”, there is no other way to call them’.

By 2015, whistling the national anthem was anticipated as the great subversive moment of the year. Ninety-five thousand Basques and Catalans packed in Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium and produced a decibel that the press called ‘monumental’, ‘stratospheric’, and ‘thunderous’. Spain’s ruling conservative People’s Party qualified the incident as ‘horror’ that ‘offends us’, declared that the whistling demonstrated ‘the disease part of the society suffers’ and reiterated the proposition that insulting Spain’s symbols should be punishable. The State’s Anti-Violence Commission issued a fine of 123,000 Euros for the clubs, and the General Attorney launched an investigation about whether the whistling constituted punishable offense to the monarch, and insult to national symbols.

For more, check out the essay here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00141844.2017.1321564

 

Special issue of SIBA about sport, identity and nationalism with a Basque accent

The Journal of Iberian and Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies SIBA highlights, among other sporting cultures, Basque sport and politics in its latest special issue, edited by CBS professor Mariann Vaczi.

From Marxism to fascism across the ideological palette, sport has engaged politics and power in diverse ways. Nationalism, nation-building and identity construction through physical culture has become a prominent research subject for social science.  Sport studies have integrated and complemented the most significant theoretical currents and conceptual toolkits of mainstream sociology, history, political science and anthropology. This special issue deploys these approaches in an Iberian and Latin-American context. The authors examine sport, nationalism and sub-national identities; colonialism and post-colonialism; race-relations and indigenous politics; sport in authoritarian regimes, and the use of sport to break with European roots in quest of South American nationhood and identities. The concept of “sport” is understood here quite broadly: activities that have competitive dimensions and/or involve strenuous, ritualized, rule-driven or choreographed physical activity. Crossbreeding sporting elements with other realms of culture such as art and ritual, as with the bullfight; or cognition and logic, as with chess; or folklore, as with human tower building, only yield more exciting and exact conclusions about their social and political embeddedness.

For the entire open access issue, see http://www.studia-iberica-americana.com/data/100172/assets/Issues/Siba2017@1518966639283.pdf

Here’s a brief review of the contributions that have Basque relevance in national and sub-national political contexts.

A Panther Among Lions: Iñaki Williams, Race and Basque Identity at Athletic Club de Bilbao

By Mariel Aquino (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Basques are a heavily ethnicized people due to their ancient, obscure, and insular origins: in his 1950s BBC series “Orson Welles Around the World,” the American director presents them as “the Red Indians of Europe.”

Never, however, had Basqueness been conceived in terms of Blackness until the first prominent black soccer player was signed by Athletic Club de Bilbao.

Aquino explores the integration of Iñaki Williams in the club, and how it produced the symbolic, if not necessarily real, inclusion of African immigrant communities within Basque identity. The integration of non-white players in European national teams has gained considerable media attention for the past decade, “signaling as it does,” Aquino writes in her analysis, “the destabilization of normative white European identity.” The case of Iñaki Williams is a particular breakthrough in a club where, because of its Basque-only philosophy, the discussion of player pedigrees in Bilbao actively constructs the boundaries between Basques and non-Basques. Aquino revisits some of the special chapters of defining Basqueness through player recruitment. Each case reveals a particular idea of ethnic identity in terms of birthplace, upbringing, genealogy and national belonging have variously established ingroup and outgroup boundaries. In all its variations, however, Basque identity was white until Iñaki Williams, whose eruption in the field provoked several race related commentaries Spain and Basque Country-wide, arguing that it should be perfectly natural that Blackness and Basqueness go together. This aggressive “rhetoric of colorblindness,” however, Aquino remarks, was ultimately just as “othering:” it was precisely this loud defensiveness that revealed that Black Basqueness, instead of quotidian, remains a major breakthrough.

 

A Basque-American Deep Game: The Political Economy of Ethnicity and Jai-Alai in the USA

By Olatz González Abrisketa (University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU)

At the height of its game in the late 1980`s,  jai alai was a 700-million-dollar business a year, with 14 active frontons throughout the United States, which would routinely fill with gamblers and aficionados of the “world`s fastest sport.” González revisits the two golden ages of the Basque sport in the United States: the 1950s-60s, and the 1970s-80s. The author argues that these two eras were also a generation gap not only in terms of age, but the political culture jai alai players brought with them. Overwhelmingly from the Basque Country, sport migrants in the 70-80s responded very differently than previous generations to what the game had to offer in the United States. While the first generation of Basque players were relatively content with the socio-economic opportunities sport migration offered them, the author argues that the emergence of ETA, considered revolutionary, left wing and socialist back then, had an impact on how Basque players viewed their situation in US capitalist culture.

The emergent Basque political culture lent ethos and vocabulary to US based jai alai players: an ethos of resistance and struggle, the strategy of hordago or all or nothing, and deeply politicized resistance strategies like hunger strikes were borrowed from their original Basque context and deployed in  the  American one.

These resistance strategies had great success in players` struggle for greater job security and fair treatment.

Football and politics in Spain: An empirical analysis of the social base of the main football clubs

By Ramón Llopis-Goig (University of Valencia)

Complementing qualitative and historical research, Ramón Llopis-Goig offers a quantitative analysis of soccer fandom and political sentiments with regards to the four most politicized and symbolic teams in Spain: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Athletic Club de Bilbao, and the Spanish national team. These teams have been major icons for Spanish, Catalonian and Basque identity construction throughout the twentieth century. Llopis-Goig explores the larger questions of regional nationalism, identity, and left vs. right political leanings through fans` self-identification, their following of the Spanish national soccer team, their preferences with regards to regional autonomy, and their left vs. right ideological orientation. According to this study based on representative sampling and a national survey, the fans of FC Barcelona are most left-leaning, and are most in favor of reforming the current state by increasing the autonomy of the region. This resonates with the larger social impetus of the current Catalonian sovereignty process.

The fans of the Basque Athletic Club de Bilbao have the strongest regional identification with their Basque heritage: fans identify as either only Basque or Basque and Spanish, but not exclusively Spanish.

The fans of Real Madrid are the most right-wing leaning, and most likely to define themselves as entirely or partly Spanish. Llopis-Goig`s research concludes that the symbolic import of these clubs remains important for political-ideological identifications, while radical, exclusive and homogenizing loyalties are not as prevalent as stereotypes would have us believe.

 

Pulling Up Stakes? Sport and Sub-National Solidarity for Catalonia`s Independence

By Mariann Vaczi (University of Nevada, Reno)

This contribution was inspired by an episode the author witnessed in Arrasate and Azpeitia in the Basque Country: Basques invited a Catalan human tower team, the Castellers de Barcelona, to build their breathtaking structures while Basque voted on a symbolic referendum about independence from Spain. This old traditional sport is an emergent symbol of Catalan nation building for the current sovereignty process, and the performance in the Basque Country expressed sub-national solidarity in Basque and Catalonian desires to vote about independence. The iconicity of tower building, and the sport`s ethos of cooperation express joint efforts in the pursuits of regional autonomy. The author takes the emblematic Catalan liberty song, Lluís Lach`s L`estaca (The Stake), which was performed at the event, as a metaphor for the agonic state-region relationships of Spain. During the Franco dictatorship, the stake was an image that tied people, and did not allow them to walk freely—a logic Basque and Catalan pro-independence actors argue they continue to feel. Pulling the stake from several sides, however, wears it out and eventually causes it to collapse.

Lluís Lach`s stake metaphor maps a particular political geography of Spain: the agonic relationship between the center (stake) and the periphery (pull away regions), as well as solidarity and united struggle among them. Sports have eminently contributed to this agonic relationship.

Vaczi examines how the two political peripheries have progressively conspired to “wear out” Spanish sovereignty through sport and physical culture, which are particularly apt to present these agonic interactions due to their physicality.

  

 

 

 

Running with Iñaki Etxaniz Tesouro and the Basque Love in Reno

Not only in honor of Valentine’s Day, but to show some love from the Center of Basque Studies, one of our new visitor’s, Iñaki Etxaniz Tesouro, decided he would brave the cold weather this last weekend to benefit a local korrika -the Reno Run 4 Love.  Iñaki and I decided to partake in this run that benefited Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada and St. Vincent’s this last Sunday morning.  It was brisk weather to say the least, but with chocolate and champagne waiting for us at the end of the race, we were able to finish strong.

Here is some information about our new arrival from the Basque Country and some good memories already made from before, during, and after our race:

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you are here:

I am Iñaki Etxaniz Tesouro, graduate in History from the University of the Basque Country. After the degree, like many other history students, I decided to do a Master’s in Secondary Education, which is necessary to be able to work as a high school teacher. After finishing this first M.A., I decided to do a second in Contemporary History. All three of my degrees were earned through the University of the Basque Country. I have gone through all three campuses of this university, but if I had to choose, I would stay with Araba’s (Vitoria-Gasteiz) campus, to which I keep a special affection and in which I made great friends.

After finishing this second Master’s degree, I had to decide if I wanted to start as a high school teacher, or if I wanted to do a PhD. I decided to start with a PhD., and in January 2015, the University of The Basque Country granted me with a pre-doctoral contract for the realization of my research. I am in the last year of my PhD program, and hope to present my thesis titled, “The labor crisis and employment policies during the Second Republic: The case of public works in Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba”, around mid-December.

What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

Currently (January 31-April 30), I am doing an international stay at the Center for Basque Studies, at the University of Nevada, Reno where I have coincided with some great PhD students. During the stay at the Center, I will make a comparative analysis between New Deal policies and the employment policies initiated by both the city and provincial councils of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, and Araba.

What are some of your hobbies, or things you like to do in your free time?

I will say that my hobbies are mountain climbing, running and reading a good novel (quite typical). Not forgetting to be with friends and people whose company I enjoy. I suppose I will also have to include History among my hobbies.

It’s great to have your energy and enthusiasm here at the Center for Basque Studies, Iñaki (and as a running partner!)  Ongi etorri!

 

 

 

Flashback Friday: December 5, 1976: Basque flag displayed before historic match between rival Basque soccer teams

Sunday, December 5, 1976, remains a momentous date in contemporary Basque history on account of the remarkable events that took place in Atotxa Stadium, Donostia-San Sebastián: a key crossroads moment of social, political, and sporting history.

That day, the local soccer team in Donostia, Real Sociedad, took on its main rival, Athletic Bilbao in the classic Basque derby game. However, the moment that really defined the match took place before a ball was even kicked. As the two teams took to the field, the respective captains—Inaxio Kortabarria of Erreala and Jose Angel Iribar of Athletic—led their players into the contest while jointly carrying an ikurriña, the Basque flag, which was at the time an illegal act in Spain.

The flag was sown by the sister of one of the Erreala players, José Antonio de la Hoz Uranga, who himself smuggled it into the stadium that day, even managing to hide the banned symbol from a police check on the way to the game. Having done so, Kortabarria went over to the Athletic locker room and suggested the idea of jointly taking the field by holding the flag, in an act aimed at calling for its legalization over a year after the death of Spanish dictator General Franco. In the end, both captains agreed that all the players competing had to agree with the idea—something, all of them local, agreed to without reservation. In the historic photo that marks that occasion, it is de la Hoz Uranga (who did not play that day) who appears covered by the flag walking between the two captains.

Erreala beat Athletic 5-0 that day, but more importantly, the act of carrying out the ikurriña did much to accelerate the legalization of the Basque flag by the Spanish authorities. Ultimately, its public display was finally legalized on January 17, 1977.

Sport in general, including a special focus on Basque sports, is addressed in the CBS publication Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport, edited by Mariann Vaczi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco’s Athletic Club Bilbao Peña

About a month ago, 15 members of the Athletic Club Peña in San Francisco visited the San Mames to watch the leones against Barça. Part of the trip was in honor of their one year anniversary as a peña, or fan association. They spent a few more days in Bizkaia, even eating at the Baserri Maitea in Forua, managed by the former goalie, Zaldua.

The Peña has 87 members, 75 of which are American and the rest from the Basque Country. The Club invited the group to San Mames, watching from the VIP box, where they were treated “like family” by Urrutia. Even though the team lost, these loyal fans will always support the team.

To read more visit (in Spanish): http://www.mundodeportivo.com/futbol/athletic-bilbao/20171030/432475124529/athletic-pena-california-ryan-makinana-san-francisco.html

Faculty News: Mariann Vaczi speaks at NASSS and Central Catholic

November is conference month, and Mariann gave two talks about her past and current ethnographic research interest in the anthropology and sociology of sport. First, she attended the annual meeting of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in Windsor (Ontario), where she presented her research project in a panel called   “Strengths Matter: Framing Sport within a Strengths and Hope Perspective.” Mariann`s talk addressed the greatest challenge in the post-Franco era to Spain’s constitutional unity: the Catalonian independence movement, and its use of culture for nation building. The independence movement helped build support by using a 200-year-old folkloric sport, the building of human towers (castells). Mariann spent nearly two years in Catalonia between 2014-2016, joined one of the many local human tower teams, and helped build hundreds of towers. She found that the Catalan secessionist movement drew from the human towers’ performative iconicity, associational culture, and affective dimensions to rally disparate social groups behind independence. The operative values of human tower building (força, equilibri, valor i seny, “strength, balance, courage and common sense”), tower building metaphors like fer pinya “make a foundation,” and the sports ethos of collaboration for a common objective feature heavily at political events in the hope of building a new political community. Human towers visualize the strength of diverse individuals working towards a common objective. This talk reflected part of Mariann`s current research towards a comparative approach of Basque, Catalan and Scottish secessionism through sport and physical culture.

 

       

Next, Mariann gave a talk at the prestigious seminar series of the Scholar`s Program of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her talk was titled “Anthropology of Sport: Themes and Perspectives,” and addressed her findings on Basque soccer and Catalan traditional sports. The seminar touched upon themes like ethnicity, identity, gender, politics, capitalism and globalization through the lenses of sport. The purpose of the presentation was to popularize anthropology as a discipline among these bright future scholars, and to emphasize its potential for researching modern western societies.

      

Faculty News 2017: Mariann Vaczi

Although she’s a recent addition to the CBS, Dr. Vaczi is a busy academic. Her book about Bilbao and its soccer madness, entitled Soccer, Culture and Society in Spain: An Ethnography of Basque Fandom (Routledge, 2015) earned Honorable Mention at the 2016 Book Awards of the North American Society for the History of Sport. It also received great reviews in academic journals. Mariann spent the past two years in Catalonia doing ethnographic fieldwork in order to diversify her research interest in sport and sub-national identities. She contributed a chapter on sport in Spain for the Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics, and she published research articles about sport and Basque and Catalan nationalism in American Ethnologist and Ethnos. She was invited to edit a special issue titled Sport, Identity, and Nationalism in the Hispanic World in the Journal of Iberian and South American Literary and Cultural Studies. She will present a paper at the 2017 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in Windsor, Ontario.

 

 

An Interview with our new CBS Professor, Mariann Vaczi

It is my great pleasure to introduce our new faculty member, Dr. Mariann Vaczi. As a graduate of the CBS, she already knows her way around and has brought great energy to the department.

 

Tell me a bit about yourself.

  • My academic specialization includes cultural anthropology, sociology, sport, physical culture, and cultural performance genres. My geographical focus includes the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Spain. I was born and raised in Hungary in a very sporty family, and I played basketball in the first division of that country. When I was twenty, I was given the opportunity to play and coach in Germany, where the American players of the club told me, why don`t you apply for an athletic scholarship in the USA? That is how I ended up in a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, where I became acquainted with anthropology, which later became my main field.
  • It was also there that I won a scholarship to study abroad in the Basque Country, which was my first encounter with this culture. I did my MA at Central European University, in Budapest, already working on topics related to Basque culture. At UNR and the Center for Basque Studies, I decided to specialize on the anthropology of sport, and more particularly on the Athletic Club and the social, cultural and political dimensions of its soccer madness. I published this book with Routledge in 2015, and I am now arranging for its translation and publication in Spanish.

What have you been up to since you finished your Ph.D. ?

  • I was based in Catalonia for almost two years. After my book was published on Basque soccer, I wanted to diversify and research Catalonian soccer from a comparative perspective, especially in light of the current sovereignty process. In the meantime, I got acquainted with an old traditional sport called human towers, and I did fieldwork on this practice for the book project I am working on now. I was a human tower performer for two seasons in Catalonia. Besides this fieldwork project, I also taught classes at the University of Dunaujvaros, Hungary.

What have you done since you got to the CBS this summer?

  • I have edited a special issue for the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies with the title “Sport, Identity, and Nationalism in the Hispanic World.” Besides writing my own chapter and the Introduction, I convoked, coordinated and edited the work of twelve sport sociologists, anthropologists, and historians. I am pleased to have got some of the finest experts in the field on board, and I look forward to the release of the special issue in December 2017. I have also revised and/or published two research articles on Basque and Catalonian sport and community formation in Anthropological Quarterly and Ethnos, which are top journals in the field of anthropology. Very importantly, I have started to prepare the publication of my work on Basque soccer in Spanish in both article and book form, and I can`t wait for the Basque fan community to be able to read it.

What are you teaching this semester?

  • I am teaching Basque Transnationalism in the United States. It is a class that revolves around culture, identity, ethnicity and politics in the changing landscapes of the home and host countries of Basque migration. My experience with American students is very positive: they know little about Basques in the USA, but they are very engaged and responsive.

What are your current research interests?

  • Currently, I am working towards the publication of my book on Basque and Catalonian sport and physical culture in the current phase of Catalonian nationalism and sovereignty process. After this project, I`d like to work on a book about Basque sport and physical culture, including traditional sports.

How are they different or similar to your previous research?

  • This work will draw upon much of my previous work on Basque soccer, but it will be complemented by Catalonian perspectives, and it will go beyond soccer and modern sports in order to focus on traditional sports as well.

What makes it unique?

  • This will be the first work to have discussed the political dimensions of sports for the current Catalonian sovereignty process, and the first book in English to engage with the traditional sport of human towers.

Have you attended any conferences or published anything recently?

  • In the last year, I have published a research article on Catalonia`s human towers in American Ethnologist, and a chapter on Basque and Catalan soccer in Spain in the Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics. In the past couple of years, I gave invited talks at great European universities in Cambridge, Loughborough, Southampton, Toulouse, Bilbao, and Valencia. I am now preparing to give a talk at the annual meeting of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in November 2017.

Are you happy to be back in the States?

  • Very much! I have lived in this country ten years, on and off, and it`s like coming home.

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

  • I miss the great city of Budapest, and of course my family.

 

We are so happy to have you around, and can’t wait to read your forthcoming work. Ongi etorri, Mariann!

 

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