Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 6)

Asier Barandiaran: America in Basque Literature

What kinds of representations and discourses emerge in Basque literature about America and Basque Americans?

On December 7, Asier Barandiaran gave a talk at the CBS Seminar Series about the Basque diaspora in America through Basque literature. Asier has visited the Center for the fifth time in order to work and use the Basque library collection for his research purposes. Asier is Associate Professor at the Department of Education and Sport at the University of the Basque Country (EHU-UPV). He is also affiliated with the Department of Language and Literature and serves as vice president of the Basque Studies Society (Eusko Ikaskuntza).

Asier’s lecture departed from the presumption that literature does not only create texts but wider representations and discourses as well. What kinds of representations and discourses emerge in Basque literature about America, and Basque Americans? Asier made three distinctions in this regard: Basques traveling to the US, Basques living in the US, and Basque diaspora and identity maintenance in the diaspora. From improvisational poetry (bertsolaritza) to novels, a host of Basque authors have contributed to the creation of a particularly Basque imaginary in the American context: the sorrows of immigration and leaving one`s home; reminiscences about childhood and nature; the difficulties of settlement (including obtaining visas); the lonely life of sheepherders; an assortment of indigenous animals exotic to the Basque imagination; the Basque language, and the California sun have equally entered Basque literature. Eskerrik asko, Asier!

 

 

 

 

 

CBS and Basque Library Win Prestigious Award

Today we are proud to announce that the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies and the Jon Bilbao Basque Library have been awarded the Euskararen Nazioarteko Eguna Saria (Euskara International Day Award) by Eusko Ikaskuntza-Basque Studies Society.

In its remarks, the jury stressed our hard work and accomplishments during the last 50 years to raise awareness of the Basque language and culture in North American academia.

The staff of the Center and the Basque Library would like to extend our gratitude to Eusko Ikaskuntza. This award will motivate us to continue our work for another 50 years and beyond.

Check the news at:

http://www.diariovasco.com/sociedad/nevadako-center-basque-20171203111217-nt.html

 

Photo credit: Josu Zubizarreta

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.

      

Basque Heritage Provides a Novel Theme: The Sheep Walker`s Daughter

By Sydney Avey

Who are the people we come from? Dee stops asking that question. But after her secretive mother dies, people who each know part of her story come forward.

Geography and culture play a critical role in grounding readers in a fictional story. I chose a Basque heritage for my first novel’s main character precisely because I knew nothing about the Basques. It was the perfect choice. Dolores Moraga Carter (Dee) knows nothing about the Basques either, but she will learn. And her discovery will change her life.

In 2014, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter received an honorable mention in a literary contest sponsored by the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Given the fact that I am not Basque, I felt highly honored. In October 2017, the Center published the second edition of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter as a Basque Originals.

An early reviewer characterized the book as a coming-of-age story of a middle-aged woman. I hadn’t thought of it this way, but it rings true. Part of figuring out who we are is understanding our family history. I wrote this story to explore the motives my own mother had in keeping our family heritage a secret.

It isn’t uncommon for a novelist to explore troubling family issues in the guise of fiction. In the process, authors make choices about which personal details to include and which to change. I chose a different heritage from my own because I wanted to stand in Dee’s shoes, free of preconceptions, and explore a culture I knew nothing about.

Why the Basques?

I didn’t have a budget to visit the country I chose, but I needed to have some sense of place to write credibly. I have been to Barcelona and love it. Having some knowledge of that region gave me a place to start some virtual road tripping (films, YouTube) and develop a sense of the terrain.

A Google search led me to the Basque population centers in the United States. Bakersfield, CA was on the list, just a four hour drive from my home in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, That allowed me to do some original research.

The Basque culture is a mystery to many Americans, even those of Basque origin. After the first edition came out, many people stepped up to tell me that their heritage was Basque. That they didn’t know much about the culture affirmed that I made the right decision. The Basque theme also popped up in reviews.

“This historical novel introduced me to the Basque culture.”

“The Basque culture was always of interest to me and she described it beautifully from the way of life to the food.”

“The well-researched Basque culture of California provides a credible backdrop for the characters’ emotional journeys as they negotiate between self and family, coldness and warmth, old hurts and new faith.”

I hope one day to visit the Basque land.

 

Monday Movies: “The Great Zambini” by Igor Legarreta and Emilio Pérez

“The Great Zambini is a story that has a touch of sadness but, in the end, we can see some hope in the relationship between father and son.” Emilio Pérez

 

Situated in the middle of the desert, in an almost lunar landscape, a rickety roulette serves as home for a family that lives among the abandoned remains of an old circus. The son (Aníbal Tártalo) is ashamed of the father (Emilio Gavira) because he is a dwarf, and suffers the mockery of the other children. One day the father observes his son`s fascination with an image of the man stepping on the moon for the first time on television. He designs a plan to win his son`s admiration. The difficult relations between the central characters are articulated through their expressive looks that rarely cross, but perfectly condense the emotions that live within each one of them: the son`s shame, the father’s pain, and the mother’s sadness (Esperanza de la Vega), who is torn between the two.

One day the father is waiting for his son at the exit of the school and notices that, in front of him, a little girl is holding on to her mother`s hand, and watches him fixedly. The dwarf man winks, provoking a timid smile from the little one. His own son, however, is incapable of showing any sign of love for his father. He hides in the bathroom until the rest of the students leave because he is ashamed of showing with his dwarf father in public.

The father doesn`t tolerate his disrespect and punishes him by not allowing him to have dinner. The mother, however, who divides her love and understanding between them, brings him a sandwich to the canon, where the child once again hides from his father. The father observes the scene from the door of the mobile home and understands that he must do something in order to recover the love of his son. At this very moment, a fabulous plan is born, and magic erupts into the story, evoking with the magic of the old circus. Zambini relocates and re-furbishes the canon that, until then, served as the hiding place of the embarrassed child. With exquisite subtleness and narrative economy, the filmmakers reveal the father`s plan: resuscitate the old days in the circus, once again light the fuse of the marvelous scene where children`s hopes and dreams become reality, and thus replace the child`s embarrassment with fascination and admiration for his father.

Monday Movies presents Basque short films and contemporary filmmakers. The short films presented here have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque Government`s distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of the CBS`s upcoming book publication Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema.

Click on the link below to watch the film. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Monday Movies: “The First Time” at 70

Let me explain. Imagine my situation. 70 years passed, and nothing… I had a boyfriend here and there, but… what I always knew is that I didn`t want to die like this. And since everyone says it`s a wonderful, fantastic thing, the truth is that… it intrigues you. And I told myself: Begoña, if this is something so nice, you can`t lose out on it.

Begoña is an elderly woman—and a virgin. Convinced that death is close, she decides to hire a male prostitute, Daniel, to satisfy her curiosity about the thing that everyone says is so beautiful and marvelous. However, this will not be an easy task for Daniel. The First Time is Cobeaga`s first short film, which he made before he would become a household name behind such box office hits like Ocho Apellidos Vascos, Pagafantas, the weekly comedy series Vaya Semanita, or his Oscar-nominated One Too Many.

The short film was nominated for the 2002 Goya Awards, and received more than 30 awards in Spain and at international festivals. In his trademark mood of bitter sweet comedy, Cobeaga presents a completely anomalous situation that is nevertheless based on a range of familiar clichés: prostitution delivered to home. What is different here is that the client is not a man, but an elderly woman played by a splendid Mariví Bilbao. After the initial surprise about his client, the young gigolo (Aitor Beltrán) finds himself before an unprecedented query.

Cobeaga said this about the film, and the dark side of being an Oscar nominee from the perspective of creativity:

I like to pick diverse and different actors. I like this mixture. This has been present since The First Time, and also in the feature films there is this contrast: theater actors, humorists who work in television, actors who come from TV series…I think that 80% of the work of actor direction is about the choice of the actors. Sometimes I write with a particular actor on mind, other times no, but the election is always very scrupulous. When it comes to facing the direction of actors, I feel very confident, and I like it to be an intellectual process; I am not at all sensory when I talk with the actors. I intend to be very logical with what each character would do in each moment, and my behavior is the same in the dialogue with the actor. It is fundamental that they read the script from beginning to end, and transform the dialogues. From the perspective of dialogue, the script is never closed, and this gives tranquility. It generates good atmosphere, and the actors feel comfortable.

At a more personal or mental level, an Oscar nomination has its dark sides. The impression that you arrived at the Oscar when you barely even started yet… I developed a certain obsession with not believeing it too much, and this lead to self-confidence issues. Besides, a week after the Oscars I shot Río Puerco,  the short film that I am least happy with.  It was a tough blow psychologically. I started to think that the Oscar was tremendously accidental, that it happened to me, but it could have happened to any other person. It caused me insecurity. I was of low morale until the first script of Pagafantas came out.

The Monday Movies series presents Basque short films and contemporary cinema. Most of these short films have gained international recognition thanks to the Basque distribution program Kimuak, and they are part of our upcoming book Kimuak Short Films: Seeds of Basque Cinema. Enjoy!

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.

 

    

Faculty News 2017: William Douglass

On February 8 and 9, 2017, William Douglass presented public lectures in Boise, Idaho. The first day he gave a seminar on the Basques in Cuba & Beyond in a Basque Culture Class at Boise State University and that afternoon he addressed a University-wide audience on the subject of “Migration and Identity.” The following evening his talk at the Boise Basque Museum was entitled “A Basque Author’s Reflections.” All three events were well attended and were followed by lively public discussion. Before returning to Reno Douglass enjoyed a lunch with the Goitiandias–his Boise Basque  “family.” All are descendants of the baserri Goitiandia of Aulestia, Bizkaia, where Bill and his family lived for about a year (1964) while he conducted his anthropological field research for his doctoral dissertation. He subsequently presented his Cuba lecture at the Center for Basque Studies and his “Migration and Identity” one in a seminar at the University of Nevada-Reno Knowledge Center.

 

  

Faculty News 2017: Xabier Irujo

Xabier Irujo participated in the conference that took place in Gernika in April 2018 as part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the bombing. As part of the commemorative events, Dr. Irujo met with Dieprand von Richthofen, grandniece of Wolfram von Richthofen, main responsible for the bombing that destroyed the city. Dr. Irujo also co-organized with the University of Barcelona the conference on the Nazis in the Basque Country and Catalonia that was held on June 2-4 at the Benedictine monastery of Lazkao and on June 20-22 at the monastery of Montserrat where on 23 October 1940 Heinrich Himmler thought he would find the Holy Grail. Dr. Irujo co-organized and attended a third conference on Social Economy held at the University of the Basque Country. He has given eleven lectures during the spring and summer semesters, and has participated in the documentary The Last Trench that sheds light on the terror bombing campaign of the German, Spanish and Italian aviation in the Basque Country. His 2018 book Gernika, 26 de abril de 1937 published by Crítica has had a wide media impact, and his book Gernika 1937: The Market Day Massacre, reviewed by the New York Book Review, was appraised at the American Historical Review, and was listed as a Nevada Press best seller in Spring 2017. Zorionak Xabier!

 

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