Category: CBS (page 1 of 9)

Mariel Aquino: CBS Visiting Scholar

Greetings from the CBS! We’ve had quite a few visiting scholars throughout the summer, so I thought I would introduce you to them, one by one, through interviews. First up, we have Mariel Aquino, a Ph.D. candidate in US history at UC Santa Barbara. She spent a month with us thanks to the Begoña Aretxaga grant, doing research for her very interesting dissertation. A historian of the United States, she received her bachelor’s from Yale and master’s from UCSB. We look forward to reading her work!

Mariel Aquino at her lecture at the CBS

What brought you to the Center for Basque Studies and UNR?

  • The most prominent thing that brought me to Reno was the wealth of the Basque-American archive—in very few other places are you likely to find one box on Basques, let alone the dozens I perused. I also hoped to engage with other Basque studies scholars, as there are none in my home department. I was lucky enough to receive a Begoña Aretxaga grant from the center and was able to spend four full weeks there.

What is the goal of your research?

  • The goal of my project is to understand how a Basque-American identity develops in the American West, and the ways in which both Basques and non-Basques become invested in what being Basque means. While I am not by any means the first to research identity in the Basque diaspora, I seek to integrate my story into larger narratives about the history of the West. I think looking at the Basque experience can offer us as scholars new ways to think about what ethnic identity and nationalism can mean.
  • I enjoy breaking my brain a little bit, haha. I also like thinking about my own experiences as a Basque person, and how I react to things that another scholar might be more dispassionate about. The tension between my own emotional investment in certain narratives and my deconstruction of those same narratives is really cool to experience.

What did you accomplish?

  • I was able to look at over sixty boxes of archival material—I took a truly absurd number of photos. I also gave a talk while I was at the center.

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

  • Yes! Everyone was extremely helpful, particularly Shannon, who put up with my constant requests for a new box with much grace. The department, in general, was very welcoming.

Did you enjoy Reno?

  • I did! Reno was quite lovely, and I was also included in a number of the social events with people from the Center, so my stay was quite pleasant.

Will you be back?

  • Of course!

We can’t wait to see you again! Good luck with your studies!

 

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.

 

Kerri Lesh posts on Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition blog

Kerri Lesh, a PhD candidate at the Center in sociolinguistics and anthropology, recently posted on the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN) blog. In “Size Matters: How Semiotics is Making History in the World of Wine,” Lesh discusses the recent agreement on the part of Rioja winemakers to accept a separate designation whereby the Rioja wines of the Basque province of Araba/Álava are clearly demarcated from other wines within the overall Rioja brand.

What’s more, as noted in the post, Lesh has also co-organized, alongside Anne Lally, and will chair the panel “Taste and Terroir as Anthropological Matter” at the forthcoming annual American Anthropological Association meeting, to be held this November in Washington D.C.

Read the full post here.

Dr. Ott’s new book, Living with the Enemy

We’d like to congratulate Professor Ott for her new publication, Living with the Enemy: German Occupation, Collaboration, and Justice in the Western Pyrenees, 1940-1948, published last month by Cambridge University Press. As many of you know, Dr. Ott is a leading expert on the Basques in Iparralde and has spent many years of research on the German occupation of France, specifically the Western Pyrenees. Combining ethnography and history, she brings out the complicated relationships between the occupiers and the occupied. For any of you who have taken her “War, Occupation, and Memory” class, you will remember how passionate she is and her ability to bring this period of history to light. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get a copy of this.

He’s the description from the publisher:

In post-liberation France, the French courts judged the cases of more than one hundred thousand people accused of aiding and abetting the enemy during the Second World War. In this fascinating book, Sandra Ott uncovers the hidden history of collaboration in the Pyrenean borderlands of the Basques and the Béarnais in southwestern France through nine stories of human folly, uncertainty, ambiguity, ambivalence, desire, vengeance, duplicity, greed, self-interest, opportunism and betrayal. Covering both the occupation and liberation periods, she reveals how the book’s characters became involved with the occupiers for a variety of reasons, ranging from a desire to settle scores and to gain access to power, money and material rewards, to love, friendship, fear and desperation. These wartime lives and subsequent postwar reckonings provide us with a new lens through which to understand human behavior under the difficult conditions of occupation, and the subsequent search for retribution and justice.

  • Reconstructs the richness of wartime social life in nine narratives about ordinary but colorful individuals
  • Takes a unique ethnographic approach to the trial dossiers of suspected collaborators, appealing to anthropologists and historians alike
  • Detailed archival research reveals the role of German prisoners of war as insiders in a post-liberation court of justice, a phenomenon that has not been reported by other historians of the period

Reviews from the back cover text:

Sandra Ott, one of the leading experts on the history of the French Basques, offers an important and wonderfully readable study of the region during the Vichy Years. In Living with the Enemy, 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 and Vichy collaboration in the Basque country. Ott’s compelling narrative and thoughtful conclusions nuance what we know about French collaboration with the Nazis during the Vichy years.

  • John Merriman, Charles Seymour Professor of History, Yale University.

A subtle and enthralling exploration of the myriad ways in which Germans and French were drawn together in complex webs of greed and vengeance, generosity and betrayal under the occupation. A magnificent contribution to the historiography.

  • Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History, Worcester College, Oxford

This engaging and important book sees the big questions of France in the Second World War (questions of occupation and collaboration) refracted through the lives of individuals in one particular, and particularly interesting, region. It will be of special interest to those who study twentieth-century France or the Second World War, but it deserves a wider readership as well because it lives up to Marc Bloch’s injunction that the historian should be like ogre in the fairy tale who finds his prey “by the smell of human flesh.”

  • Richard Vinen, Professor of History, King’s College London

If these reviews don’t convince you to read it, I don’t know what will. Zorionak, Professor Ott!

An update from Irati Urkitza, our Basque Library Intern

We here at the blog have decided to check up on Irati Urkitza, who you may have read about in a previous post. The following is an update from the Algortarra, who we are happy to have here at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library and at the Center for Basque Studies. She is doing a tremendous amount of work in the archive and it’s a pleasure seeing her every day.

Five months have passed since I landed in Reno and I couldn’t be happier! First off, this is my first experience related to working in archives so I had a lot to learn. When I arrived, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the archives and the materials in them. I couldn’t believe how interesting they are. I’ve found all kinds of documents, some dealing with exile, others with the first sheepherders in the West as well as boardinghouses, and the personal stories behind all of them. On example is the story of the migrant to Colombia “El Cojo” Gómez, who happened to be from my hometown, Algorta. He was a “good” smuggler in the sense that he told on “bad” people, even though he was murdered in retaliation for having killed three men. This is just one of the many stories hidden in the archives of the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

After the process of getting to know the materials, I received training from the library staff in various programs that I’ve been using to catalog archival documents. I think it’s wonderful that they spend time teaching new interns not just how to use the programs but also helping us throughout the way. I still have questions sometimes, but I think I’ve learned quite a bit.

One of the tasks I carry out here besides cataloging is working at the library by attending to visitors and students. It is also my first time working with the public in this way, and I think I’ve improved a lot since I first sat in front of the main desk. Most of the people who come are interested in learning what we do at this library as well as Basque culture and history. Others come because of their interest in their backgrounds, thinking they may have Basque ancestors. We also get a lot of students because our library is quieter than the main library.

We currently have a window exhibit on the bombing of Gernika that I helped to put together. Not only did I record one of the testimonies, that of Mercedes Irala, but I also helped to translate the texts and edit the video on display. The Gernika exhibit is just a small homage to this historic event, but I think it’s important for the diaspora to remember the events that marked our grandparent’s generation.

For now, I’m continuing to discover new treasures that were forgotten in the many boxes that comprise the archive. I’m trying to figure out what it is we have exactly and see if we can create new collections for cataloging. As you can see, I’m working hard and enjoying every minute of it.

Besides working at the library, I’ve had the chance to get to know Reno as well as its surroundings and people. For example, I spent a wonderful weekend at Black Rock Desert for the rendezvous organized by Friends of the Nevada Wilderness and Friends of BRD. I also had the chance to attend the Basque Picnic in Petaluma (CA), which was a way for me to take part in the Basque-American experience. I look forward to traveling more across the West.

Before I end this post, I just wanted to thank everyone at the Basque Library and in the Main Library for giving me this opportunity, especially Iñaki Arrieta-Baro, the Basque librarian, who has to deal with me every day and answer all of my questions. Mila esker!

An Interview with Marta Requejo Fraile, a visiting scholar from the University of Valladolid

Marta Requejo Fraile is a visiting Ph.D. student here at the CBS from the University of Valladolid. After spending a few weeks in Reno, we’ve decided to interview her on her research and stay. She’s a great addition to our summer visiting scholars and we look forward to reading her work.

Marta is from Miranda de Ebro (Burgos) and has a B.A. in Journalism and a Master’s in “Research in Communication as a Socio-historical Agent” (Master en Investigación de la comunicación como agente historico-social), both from the University of Valladolid. She began her Ph.D. in 2014, within the program “Spanish: Linguistics, Literature, and Communication” at the same university. She is funded by a Spanish government grant for University Professor Training (Formación del Profesorado Universitario) and also received the Begoña Aretxaga Travel Stipend for her research stay here.

Marta has been working hard at the library and recently presented her dissertation topic at on of our seminars. Here’s a look into her background and work.

1)    What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies? 

The first time I heard about the CBS was in a scholarly article that I was reading for my doctoral dissertation. After that, I have found it cited more and more in most of the works I reviewed. So, I thought it could be useful for my research project to come here because of the Center’s resources. I am going to be here for three months

2)    What is the goal of your project?

I study the role of mass media in conflict resolution, specifically, the Basque case through the analysis of discourse in some Basque newspapers.

3)    What makes your research unique? 

I use Peace and Conflict Research theories to analyze media discourse in the Basque case, something that is not very common in Communication Studies and even less in the Spanish academic world.

4)    What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I have divided my time at the CBS between the empirical analyses of my dissertation and the study of anthropological aspects of terrorism in media discourse in some reference works.

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

Over and above the diversity of the bibliographic resources that the Center for Basque Studies owns about Basque issues, what makes this institution unique, apart from the place in which it is located, is the people that work in it. I think that it is one of the most important forms of support that I have found here.

6)    Are you enjoying the U.S.?

It is an amazing place that makes you feel as if you were trapped in a film in continual progress. I would have never imagined this.

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

Although it sounds like a cliché, we always miss that which is irreplaceable in our lives, like close people. And, in this sense, I think I have not been the exception.

An Interview with Beñat Dachaguer

As many of you know, we have quite a few visitors throughout the year. In this interview, we introduce you to Beñat Dachaguer, who is doing an internship at the library.

1) Tell me a bit about yourself…

My name is Beñat Dachaguer and I come from Bayonne in the French Basque Country. During this 2016-2017 school year, I am studying Books and Heritage Professions at Grenoble University. Before that, I taught English in high schools for 10 years.

2)    What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

For this training course in Books and Heritage Professions, I needed to do a 2-month internship in a library. I am very interested in Basque culture, language, and literature. I applied to the Basque Library and they accepted me as an intern for 2 months. I am here until June 30.

3)    What is the goal of your project?

The purpose of my stay at the Basque Library is to understand the procedures of the Basque Library in the framework of a North American research library. Thanks to this internship, I am also able to gain knowledge about the Library’s archival collections and the holdings in general.

4)    What makes your study unique?

I speak Basque as my mother tongue and as a fully-quaIified English teacher, I am also fluent in English. The internship allows me to learn more about the Basque diaspora and Basque-American identity. It is interesting to see how they manage to keep Basque culture and traditions alive.

5)    What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I enjoy the city of Reno. I think it is a lively and pleasant town where there are many things to do: restaurants, cinema, pubs, casinos…  and of course, I have gone to Louis’ Basque Corner, the Basque restaurant downtown and visited the National Monument to the Basque Sheepherder. I also went to Pyramid Lake, which I found beautiful!

6)  Has the Center for Basque Studies and Library helped you in any way?

The Center for Basque Studies has helped me a lot. There are many interesting documents about Basque culture and diaspora. I have to write a report about my stay at the Basque Library, so all the materials available are very useful to me. Besides, the colleagues (library staff, faculty, and Ph.D. students) are really nice. There is a good atmosphere in the library.

7)    Are you enjoying the U.S.?

I enjoy the USA, mainly the Western part. Nevada and California are states where there is a good life quality. I already went to Chino, near Los Angeles, 20 years ago and I have kept an excellent memory of my stay there! I am glad to be back in the USA.

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

I haven’t really missed anything except one thing maybe … actually, in April and May, I usually have fun at Basque festivals like Nafarroaren Eguna in Baigorri or Herri Urrats in Senpere. But this year I was in Reno … so I couldn’t attend these 2 events. However, last weekend, I went to the Basque picnic in Bakersfield, California. It was like being at home, in the Basque Country…I even discovered two new drinks:  Madras and VO+sprite. Next weekend, I am going to visit San Francisco and attend the local Basque picnic there… the show must go on!

SFBC Annual Basque Picnic in Petaluma

Last Sunday, a few of us from the Center for Basque Studies and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library made the trip out to Petaluma for the San Francisco Basque Club’s 57th Annual Picnic. After heading out rather early, we made it to the end of the mass given by Father Lastiri, with music by the Elgarrekin Choir and the Zazpiak Bat Klika, alongside dancing. The Petaluma Fair Grounds were packed, and finding a table was a difficult task. While the chefs prepared the barbecue, we enjoyed the warm weather and pleasant conversation. Even my own parents made it out!

As with all Basque events, food was plentiful. We dug into some cheese and other appetizers until the line formed to stack our plates with the wonderful food provided by the SFBC. The menu consisted of barbecued rack of lamb (cooked perfectly) with beans, piperade, salad, cheese, bread, and of course, wine. Every bite was delicious. After our dessert, we gathered around the court to watch the dancers.

Zazpiak Bat Dancers

First came the Zazpiak Bat Txiki dancers, who did a splendid job considering that this was the first year of dancing for most. The Los Banos group was represented by 3 young boys, who also had some great moves. Lastly, we watched the Zazpiak Bat Dance group dance elegantly. The Klika also partook in the jovial atmosphere. Overall, it was a great time.

As picnic and festival season begins, I hope to attend more events. It’s great to see Basque culture being carried on by the youth and the many Basques and Basque-Americans that come together to share food, fun, and merriment. Don’t forget, next week: Winnemucca’s Annual Festival!

Interview with Mikel Amuriza, visiting scholar from the Diputación de Bizkaia

After a three-month research stay, we’ve decided to interview Mikel Amuriza, a visiting scholar from the Diputación de Bizkaia. He has been quite the presence around the CBS and we will miss him dearly.

Mikel Amuriza Fernandez was born in Bilbao in 1978 and studied “Ciencias Actuariales y Financieras” (like Business but more specialized in insurance) at the University of the Basque Country. He currently works at the Biscay Deputation, in the tax inspection department.

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

The Biscay Deputation and the CBS have an agreement for cooperation and to promote the Basque Economic Agreement, so I got the opportunity to spend three months here.

2)    What is the goal of your project?

The main goal of my project is to analyze the American tax system to compare it with the Basque Country tax system.

3)    What makes your research unique?

 It is unique, at least for me, because there isn’t a comparative model of the two systems. It is also a great opportunity to experience this Basque Center, learn a little bit about Basque culture and history in the United States, experience American culture, and, of course, to work on the article on this subject.

4)    What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I have learned a lot about American society,  culture, and its economic system. And I also have learned about the Basque diaspora and its history.

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

In many ways: The library’s resources, the incredible people at the CBS, tools to work efficiently like a computer, office, the internet, etc., they have all helped me in my research stay. Also, related to my job, the Nevada Tax office, lawyers, and UNR professors have also aided me tremendously.

But the most important help has been from the people at the center.

6)    Are you enjoying the U.S.?

It has been an amazing experience, so if I can, I will come back, of course! 

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

My family and my young son Martin.

James Beard Award goes to The Oxford Companion to Cheese

We are proud to announce that The Oxford Companion to Cheese has received the James Beard Award for “Reference and Scholarship” this year. You may ask, are Basques just that obsessed with cheese to write a post about it? Well yes, we are, and I  am definitely the definition of a cheese eater: “A person who eats cheese; a person who appreciates or routinely consumes cheese.” However, the reason we are sharing this news is because Professor Sandra Ott was among the 325 contributors to the book (a whopping 888 pages), hailing from over 35 countries! Zorionak Sandy!

For those of you who are familiar with Dr. Ott’s work, you may not be surprised that she was asked by the editorial board member Heather Paxson, author of The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America and professor of anthropology at MIT, to contribute. Ott’s The Circle of Mountains: A Basque Shepherding Community, an ethnography of Santazi (Zuberoa) and its people, is a Basque Studies classic. Part Four of the book comprises three chapters on cheese and cheese-making: 1. The Olha: A Pastoral Institution; 2. Rotation and Serial Replacement in the Olha: Past and Present; 3. Shepherding and Cheese-making. Perhaps the most striking chapter, however, is Part Five: The Concept of Conception. After years living in Santazi, and now decades returning to do fieldwork and maintain lifelong friendships, Professor Ott participated in the town’s traditions and work. It was through this labor, as well as talking to residents, that Ott learned much about Santazi’s cheese-making, the significance of the olha (the sheepherding syndicate’s hut high in the mountains where cheese is made exclusively by men during summer transhumance), and finally the connections between human and cheese conception. Here are Ott’s own words:

Santazi, Zuberoa

These examples show the historical depth and spatial distribution of an analogy that is central to the Sainte-Engrâce notion of human conception–namely, that rennet : cheese : : semen : infant. The modern existence of the cheese analogy of conception in one French Basque community is itself an interesting phenomenon … an attempt by men … to fulfil symbolically the female procreative role and to re-enact symbolically the physical creation of children in a male domain from which women are excluded. In Sainte-Engrâce, this also involves a reversal of male and female sociological roles, i.e. the cheese-making shepherd performs the socio-domestic role of the female head of household and recreates the ideologically female domain of the house in the male domain of the mountain herding hut.

The Circle of Mountains, pg. 212

Professor Ott’s contribution to The Oxford Companion to Cheese deals with the significance of the olha and cultural theories of cheese curdling. Paxson also includes this anecdote in her own book:

When I first visited Major Farm and was explaining to David my early thoughts about an anthropological research project, he asked, “Oh, you mean like Sandra Ott?” and pulled down from a bookcase in the kitchen, shelved next to the Moosewood Cookbook, a copy of Ott’s ethnographic monograph, The Circle of Mountains.

The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America, pg. 52

Although Professor Ott’s new book Living with the Enemy (Cambridge University Press) is set to be released very soon, we can gather that her interests are wide in scope, and who wouldn’t love cheese! As a matter of fact, she has presented numerous times at the American Cheese Society Conference! She sets an example for students like myself in her ability to balance many topics in-depth, while still having time to think about gazta!

We leave you with a review, in case you want to know more. This is what The New York Times had  to say about this doorstopper:

For the Cheese Lover, the Ultimate Reference Book

This new guide to cheese from Oxford University Press is authoritative, but what is surprising is how local it gets. Calandra’s Cheese on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is listed, along with such revered fromageries as Androuet in Paris. And just to show how American cheesemakers are at the forefront of the artisanal resurgence, the book was edited by Catherine Donnelly, a professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont, with a foreword by Mateo Kehler, a founder of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. Hundreds of writers from 35 countries contributed to this 888-page doorstop of a reference book, with entries arranged alphabetically and covering topics like regulations, techniques, history, cuisines, types of rinds, Mexican cheeses (there are some 60 varieties), Chinese cheeses and cheese museums: “The Oxford Companion to Cheese,” edited by Catherine Donnelly (Oxford, $65).

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