On August 30th, the committee of Dr. Xabier Irujo, Dr. Mari Jose Olazregi, Dr. Justin Glifford, Dr. Mario Santana, Dr. Joseba Zulaika, Dr. Meredith Oda and Dr. Sandra Ott all gathered to hear PhD student, Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain’s PhD defense. When asked to explain her dissertation, Ziortza explained “The cultural magazine Euzko-Gogoa was undoubtedly an emblematic leader in the history of the Basque press and a symbol of the resurgence of the Basque language and nation during Franco’s dictatorship. However, there is very little academic research on the contribution that Basque literature in exile made to the secularization and modernization of Basque literature, and even less research about the magazine published in English. Euzko-Gogoa, since its beginnings, played an important role in the Basque culture. The symbolic, idealistic and vocational understanding of culture, which was characteristic of the 1950’s, created such a vital and dynamic movement that it is almost impossible to talk about the Basque cultural renaissance of the 1960’s without properly examining this magazine. The impact of exile was instrumental in the process of planting the seeds for future nation building. With a country defeated and its culture outlawed, it was in the diaspora where the Basque nation could be rebuilt and re-imagined. Euzko-Gogoa created a foundation of ideas that would serve to maintain the dialogue of a desired community while maintaining and developing the Basque language and culture. This dissertation acknowledges the exceptional nature of exile and its impact in the character/identity of the magazine.” The once grad student, passed with flying colors, and is now headed to Boise State University for a lectureship.
When I asked Ziortza about how she chose her topic for her dissertation she said, “I admire believers, dreamers and the ones that fight for impossibilities to make a better world. I realized that the cultural projects made in exile/diaspora were many times made by these unlikely heroes that defended actions and projects that were many times bordering fantasy and reality. Their unacceptability to succumb to impositions inspire me to write about them.” Ziortza explained how she loves fantasy, specifically J.R.R. Tolkien and in her words “envisioned myself in this imagined world where I could join the fellowship in the fight for middle earth. So when I was teaching high school in the Basque Country I felt a yearning still for more education and opportunities. I was extremely lucky to also have met Dr. Olaziregi during my masters and she was always an amazing reference and person of inspiration. So I contacted her to see if there was an opportunity to seek out more knowledge in the Basque diaspora. The dominoes started to fall and sure enough the opportunity presented itself to leave my ‘Basque shire’ and set out on an adventure to research and share the passionate story of Euzko-Gogoa, it’s creator Jokin Zaitegi, and the amazing fellowship he created…Zaitegi was a dreamer who, despite his constant defeats, created a world for the Basque language and culture, for the next generation of Basques such as myself.”
Congratulations once again to Dr. Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain on all her accomplishments and we look forward to all she will accomplish in the future!