Page 2 of 92

May 13, 1757: Birth of writer and dramatist Rita de Barrenechea

The eighteenth-century Enlightenment found its expression in the Basque Country primarily in the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País (Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country). This was a multifaceted body whose members came from the privileged classes and it sought to encourage the scientific, cultural, and economic development of the Basque Country along the new liberal Enlightenment values. One figure that benefited from the encouragement of this group was María Rita Nicolasa de Barrenechea y Morante de la Madrid , who was born in Bilbao on May 13, 1757. 

Portrait of María Rita de Barrenechea (1757–1795) by Francisco Goya. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of María Rita de Barrenechea (1757–1795) by Francisco Goya. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1775 she married Juan de Sahagún de la Mata Linares, the Count of Carpio, and the couple settled in Barcelona, later moving to Madrid. Their homes became salons for Enlightened debate and she took up writing. Her two best known works are both comedies: Catalin, a one-act play that charts the difficulties a young couple from the rural hinterland outside Portugalete, Bizkaia, have in getting married.  Interestingly, the work includes a traditional song in Basque; and La aya (The governess), a rumination on how children should be raised and educated.

Barrenechea died in Madrid in 1795.

Cameron Watson discusses the impact of the Enlightenment in the Basque Country in Modern Basque History.

 

Visiting Scholar Haritz Monreal Zarraonandia Speaks about Basque Mountaineering at CBS Lecture Series

Hiking and mountaineering associations have important social and political trajectories in the Basque Country. Visiting Scholar Haritz Monreal Zarraonandia (EHU-UPV) presented his research project titled “Basque Mountaineering During the Interwar Period” at the CBS Lecture Series. The lecture covered the interwar period, and detailed how the Basque mountaineering movement both reflected and constructed contemporary political and cultural moods. It also covered the activities and publications of contemporary mountaineering journals such as Jagi-jagi, Mendigoxale, or the Journal of the Basque Mountaineering Federation Pyreneica. Dr. Monreal traced the social motivations behind Basque mountaineering back to the ritual and religious dimensions the practice might have had in the Middle Ages, and situated it in European, particularly French hiking traditions.

2017-06-22, Donostia. Haritz Monreal idazlea, mendiari buruz.

Religious and ritual mountaineering

Cultural hiking: Miguel de Unamuno

The beginnings of mountaineering as a sport

Mountaineering clubs and political parties 1.

Mountaineering clubs and political parties 2.

Mountaineering clubs and political parties 3.

May 8, 2010: Volcanic ash from Iceland leads to closure of all Basque airports

The eruption on March 27, 2010. Photo by Boaworm. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The eruption on March 27, 2010. Photo by Boaworm. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In late March 2010 the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted, throwing volcanic ash into the atmosphere that subsequently scattered all over Europe. This led, on May 8, to the unusual and unique closing of all the main Basque airports: in Biarritz, Loiu (BIlbao), Hondarribia (Donostia-San Sebastián), Noian (Pamplona-Iruñea), and Foronda (Vitoria-Gasteiz).

Zorionak to Dr. Kerri Lesh on successful PhD defense!

“If you can’t market in your own language, what you are communicating implicitly then is that Euskara is only worth something when used to market traditional, historic, old products… this is inadmissible, it tramples on the rights of any language that you want to revitalize” (Estitxu Garai, May 12, 2017).

On May 1 2019, CBS graduate student Kerri Lesh defended her PhD dissertation titled “Through the Language of Food: Creating Linguistic and Cultural Value through Basque (Euskara) Semiotics to Market Local Gastronomic Products.” Kerri’s work met with unanimous appraisal from her committee and the audience. Zorionak, Dr. Lesh!

Kerri’s dissertation committee consisted of Sandra Ott (Center for Basque Studies, UNR) and Jenanne Ferguson (Department of Anthropology, UNR) as co-chairs, as well as Ian Clayton (English Department, UNR), Agurtzane Elordui (University of the Basque Country), and Begoña Echevarria (University of California, Riverside).

Kerri spent a year conducting anthropological fieldwork in various locations of the Basque Country, including intensive language immersion at barnetegis (Basque-only language schools) in order to understand the interfaces of culture, language and gastronomy. Her basic research question was:

Amid ever increasing interest in Basque gastronomy, how can value (cultural, economic, social) be created when using the minoritized language, Euskara, to market gastronomic products in working toward language normalization?

In order to answer this basic question, Kerri conducted dozens of formal and informal interviews with actors in the sectors of gastronomy and language maintenance: Michelin-star chefs, gastronomic societies, milk, cider, Txakolina, Rioja Alavesa and beer producers, Basque professors and sociolinguists, NGOs and interest groups.

In her dissertation talk, Kerri discussed the commensality of Basque gastronomic societies or txokos, and their role for Basque culture and language maintenance against the backdrop of changing gender relations. She talked about the “battle of milk” between the producers Kaiku and Euskal Herria Esnea, and the role of products for social reproduction through language. The Basque sagardotegi or cider house is another gastro-space where Basque “authenticity” is produced and consumed. The audience learned the ways “txakoliscape,” as part of the Basque “semiofoodscape,” is a landscape of value, identity, experience, and political and social contestation.

Kerri concluded that further research should be done in order to learn more about what is valued and why, through food and wine products and commensality, in the Basque Country and beyond. She argued that further effort must be made for language maintenance, and tools related to product marketing may continue to be useful in the effort. Finally, she highlighted the antagonisms between authenticity and integrity versus the commodification of language and goods.

 

  

Below are some of the revealing quotes Dr. Lesh presented from actors involved with food, wine and language in the Basque Country. Once again, congratulations, Kerri, and thank you for sharing the results of what seems to have been an intoxicating fieldwork experience!

 

Kerri’s dissertation committee: Sandy Ott, Jenanne Ferguson, Joseba Zulaika and Ian Clayton. Others attended via video conference.

 “We want to demonstrate that we are committed to a civil activity, to the defense of the products. A defense of territory also exists…many times businessmen cannot compete with products that come from outside, often with poor salaries. When defending a local product, we are defending the local producer.” (Luis Mokoroa, Presidente de la Cofradía Vasca de Gastronomía de San Sebastián (President for the Basque Fraternity of Gastronomy of San Sebastian), Terrigastro, February 13, 2018).

“Internationally I am proud and don’t fear retaliation [for using Basque] …but within Spain, you have to be brave to use Basque on the label” (Itxaso Compañon, text message, Oct. 24, 2017).

 “The label is not important, what’s important is the essence and experience you give…it would be an error to lose the essence and think that you have to translate everything”“focusing on key words would be helpful if one wanted to use a language to market” (Agirre, November 24, 2017).

“The women, in the world of Txakolina back then, as well as in other activities, were limited to doing the manual work often, cleaning bottles, labeling them, selling the Txakolina, and dividing up the money…And now, there are a lot of women in the world of Txakolina, things continue evolving.” (Iratxe Zabala, email to author, August 30, 2018).

April 27, 1435: First group of Romani people arrive in Basque Country

Arrival of Romani group in Bern, Switzerland, 1485. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Arrival of Romani group in Bern, Switzerland, 1485. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Romani (colloquially known as Roma or Gypsies) have been a long established presence in the Basque Country and even developed their own distinct tongue, Erromintxela, which is a mixed language that incorporates most of its vocabulary from Kalderash Romani and its grammar from Basque. The first documented presence of the Romani in the Basque Country dates from April 27, 1435 when a group of fifty people passed through Olite, Navarre, on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The group was led by “Thomas, the Count of Lower Egypt,” and received a donation from Blanche I, Queen of Navarre.

Document signed by Miguel García de Barasoain, secretary to Queen Blanche I of Navarre, detailing the donation, 1435. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Document signed by Miguel García de Barasoain, secretary to Queen Blanche I of Navarre, detailing the donation, 1435. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Zorionak, Joseba! Dr. Zulaika Retires

By Sandy Ott

Joseba Zulaika and I met thirty-six years ago in Donosti. In 1983, he had just joined the faculty at the University of the Basque Country. I had recently become the director of USAC’s first study abroad program in Donosti. Kate Camino was among that first cohort of pioneering USAC students. Little did any of us know that our professional paths would eventually find us all in Reno as colleagues at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies.

Joseba joined the UNR faculty in 1990, twenty-three years after Bill Douglass became the first coordinator of the Basque Studies Program. When Bill retired in December 1999, Joseba became the Center’s first Director. He has played an integral role in the transformation of the Center, now often described by UNR President Marc Johnson as “a jewel in the crown.” During Joseba’s directorship (2000-2005) the number of faculty doubled, in large part owing to the support of Bill Raggio, Joe Crowley, and Bill Douglass and to skillful lobbying by our longstanding Advisory Board member, Pete Ernaut. Joseba was also closely involved in the creation of that Advisory Board, in response to friendly pressure from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bob Mead. The Advisory Board held its first meeting in January 2001, with John Echeverria as its first Chair and Bill Douglass as its Vice-Chair.

As Director of the Center, Joseba also recognized the need to secure support from Basque public institutions. Our Advisory Board and its leadership under John and Bill helped us obtain financial support from the Basque Government and the Diputación de Bizkaia. Joseba’s efforts, as well as Bill’s, resulted in a $60,000 grant from the Basque Government and an annual agreement to support the Center’s development of online courses, publications and conferences. That ongoing support by the Basque Government and other Basque institutions has proved fundamental to the Center’s record of excellence. Joseba’s close involvement with the developing CBS Press began with textbooks for online courses and expanded into various distinguished series, such as the Classics Series, the Basque Literature and the Basque Diaspora Series. Joseba also played an instrumental role in developing the Basque Library as an integral component in our collective mission to generate and disseminate knowledge about the Basques.

During his long and distinguished career, Joseba has received several awards and prizes, most notably among them the coveted Euskadi Prize for his outstanding memoir, That Old Bilbao Moon. The memoir is an “ethnography of desire, an essay tracking a generation’s consciousness.” Its opening paragraph gives the reader a flavor of the amazing journey ahead: “It was the spring of 1999 and a Carnival Monday morning when I returned for a visit to San Felicísimo (“Saint Happiest”)—the Bilbao monastery where in the 1960s, as a teenager and for almost a decade, I tried hard to become a saint, but was finally expelled, an atheist and suicidal (That Old Bilbao Moon, 2014, p. 9).”

Joseba has long tackled daunting topics in his research and writing. Internationally known for his works on terrorism, Joseba will crown his academic career later this year with the publication of his riveting (and admittedly disquieting), forthcoming book, Killing from Las Vegas: Drone warfare and the American Dream (under contract with the University of California Press).

Joseba, we all wish you every happiness and continuing success in your retirement in July. Thank you so much for everything you have done for the Center.

Sandy Ott

Professor of Basque Studies

April 24, 1898: Birth of Fidela Bernat, the last native-born speaker of Eastern Navarrese Basque dialect

The fortunes of the Basque language have historically paralleled those of the Basque Country itself, with high points and low points, triumphs and defeats. Fidela Bernat Aragüés would ultimately be the last native-born speaker of what Koldo Zuazo (see below) classifies as Eastern Navarrese Basque, the Basque spoken in the Erronkari and Zaraitzu Valleys of Navarre.

Fidela Bernat and her husband Pedro Ederra.

Fidela Bernat and her husband Pedro Ederra.

She was born in Uztarroze, in the Erronkari Valley, on April 24, 1898 and married Pedro Ederra Lorea in 1925. The couple went on to have six children. Herv husband died in 1988, and she passed away on February 23, 1991, at the age of ninety-three, the last native speaker of Eastern Navarrese.

Eastern navarrese was one of the more distinct dialects. According to expert Zuazo, “The Basque forms in Erronkari and in Zaraitzu have been grouped together. Those two valleys used to be influenced from both the north and the south, but for a long time now their main source of influence has been Navarre, to the south. However, they retained their own special character and did not become completely assimilated into the other areas of Navarre and, because of that, I decided to call this dialect ‘Eastern Navarrese’ Basque.”

Check out Koldo Zuazo, The Dialects of Basque.

 

Additional CBS Lecture on May 7th

Have you been wanting to come to the CBS Lecture Series, but Thursdays do not work with your schedule? Well you are in luck! We have added an additional lecture to the Spring 2019 Lecture Series, but on a Tuesday! Come by UNR’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (MIKC) 305N at 4:30 to 5:30 pm to learn about Basque mountaineering during the interwar period. The presentation will be by CBS visiting scholar, Haritz Monreal. See you there!

For more information on Monreal’s work click here.

Dissertation Defense for Kerri Lesh on May 1st

The Center for Basque Studies is pleased to announce that next Wednesday, CBS graduate student Kerri Lesh will be defending her dissertation titled: “Through the Language of Food: Creating Linguistic and Cultural Value through Basque (Euskara) Semiotics to Market Local Gastronomic Products”.

Her defense will start in MIKC 305N at 9:00 am. Please join us in wishing Kerri our best and congratulations for reaching the final stage!

Kerri Lesh

 

World Book Day 2019

Fun fact: Today, April 23, is World Book Day! and of course, CBS Books is celebrating! Here’s a roundup of the books we’ve published thus far this year, be sure to pick up a copy or two and enjoy! Click on the cover image to go to our Shopify website (https://basquebooks.com/)

Female Improvisational Poets

 

Julio Cesar Arana

 

International Perspectives on Fiscal Federalism: The Basque Tax System

 

Agirre's Diaries

 

Petra, My Basque Grandmother

Social Economy in the Basque Country

Lekuak : The Basque Places of Boise, Idaho

 

Stories of Basque Mythology for Children

 

 

« Older posts Newer posts »