Tag: Anthropology

Kerri Lesh presents a panel on Basque “terroir” for the American Anthropological Association

Before heading across the better half of the continental USA, I had a chance to reintegrate with a little action in Washington DC just a couple of weeks ago. I was nervous and excited to chair, present, and  co-organized, alongside Anne Lally, the panel “Taste and Terroir as Anthropological Matter” at the annual American Anthropological Association meeting. My panel was titled “The sociolinguistic economy of terroir: constructing and marketing identity in the Basque Country”. In this paper I discussed how the concept of terroir was directly and indirectly translated into Basque within various gastronomic contexts. The result was to show how this multi-faceted concept of terroir provides a lens for looking at which components become most salient to Basques in the process, and what that in turn shows about the values portrayed in social, linguistic, and gastronomic production.

It was an amazing opportunity as I was luckily enough to secure Amy Trubek, one of my academic idols and author of “Taste of Place;  A Cultural Journey into Terroir”. It was well attended with questions to follow that provide further food for thought. Afterward, it was everyone to the bar for a round of drinks, which was my favorite part-not because I love wine, but because it is at these AAA meetings that I feel I have found my academic family. Cheers, and stay tuned to see what becomes of the panel! Rumor has it, it’s not over yet…

New William A. Douglass Chair in Basque Cultural Studies Inaugurated at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

The inauguration of the William A. Douglass Chair in Basque Cultural Studies took place on Monday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. One seminar and conference in Basque Anthropology and Culture will be offered annually by the university in order to promote Basque Studies and the topic of migration in a more general sense.

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Photo credits: Etxepare Institute

This year’s inaugural symposium was entitled “William Douglass, Basque Studies, and the Anthropology of Europe,” as an homage to the man who helped create Basque Studies in the United States. Introduced by the Provost, Douglass himself began the program with his lecture “Along for the Ride: Interpreting the Migrant Story,” in which he not only spoke of his career but also the connection to the present within debates on immigration.

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Various speakers, including Caroline Brettel, Sharon Roseman, Susan Carol Rogers, and our own Joseba Zulaika, gave talks on Douglass’ role in anthropological studies through various viewpoints. Mari Jose Olaziregi, representing the Etxepare Basque Institute–which created this chair as the latest to join many others in universities around the world–also contributed. As part of this Basque spirit in Amherst, Jackie Urla, Anthropology Professor at the University of Massachusetts, has created the course “Culture and Heritage in Europe,” which will touch upon the history of the Basques.

William Douglass seems to be everywhere these days and a chair in his honor helps to disseminate his work and the research he has inspired around the world. He is still quite active and we recommend his two most recent publications, Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, available at http://basquebooks.myshopify.com/products/basque-explorers-in-the-pacific-ocean, and  Basques in Cuba, which comprises various articles by different authors on the topic:  http://basquebooks.myshopify.com/products/basques-in-cuba.

To view the complete program, visit:  http://www.etxepare.liquidmaps.org/users_fichas_items/index/2475/6235?return=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.etxepare.eus%2Fen%2Fchairs

Flashback Friday: The Disciple of Barandiaran

On November 13, 1914, Julio Caro Baroja, the renowned anthropologist of Basque origin, was born in Madrid, Spain. He was the eldest son of Rafael Caro Raggio and Carmen Baroja Nessi. At a very early age, Julio moved to the Navarrese town of Bera, in the Basque Country. There, he would spend hours with his uncle, the famed author Pío Baroja. During his adolescence, he learned about Basque culture when he began reading books in his uncle’s library and this interest led him to undertake ethnographic research in the Basque Country. As a student of the Basque archaeologist and ethnographer Jose Migel Barandiaran, he quickly became drawn to Basque history and culture. In 1941, he had already completed a doctorate in ancient history. From this moment on, his contribution to Basque anthropology and historiography consisted of publishing numerous books and articles, including The Basques (1949) and Vasconiana (1974). Among other things, Baroja, who was considered a nonconformist scholar, observed Basque society as a synthesis and integration of modernity and tradition. In 1995, Julio Caro Baroja passed away in Bera and was buried in the local cemetery. Born in the context of World War I and dying in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baroja lived through many of the turbulent events that marked the “short twentieth century,” which also influenced a considerable part of his work on Basque studies.

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From left, Julio Caro Baroja, Joxemiel Barandiaran Aierbe, and Juan Garmendia in Ataun, Gipuzkoa, in the 1970s.

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From left, Eloy Placer, Julio Caro Baroja, William A. Douglass, and Jon Bilbao during the Summer Session Abroad in Uztaritze, Lapurdi, organized by the Basque Studies Program in 1970. Source: Jon Bilbao Basque Library, UNR


For more information and a selection of his works translated into English, check out the book edited and translated by Jesús Azcona, The Selected Essays of Julio Caro Baroja.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Author Biography of Dr. Mariann Vaczi, an Alumni of the University of Nevada, Reno

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Dr. Mariann Vaczi is an associate professor in anthropology at the College of Dunaújváros, Hungary. Dr. Vaczi was born in Hungry to a physical education teacher father and an English teacher mother. Dr. Vaczi grew up in a small town of Dunaújváros, 70 km south of Budapest. Dunaújváros was a socialist model town in terms of architecture, community ideology, and everyday life. During her childhood she experienced the democratic transformations in her home town and the fall of the Hungarian Iron Curtain Communist regime in 1989.

Dr. Vaczi has been acquainted with sports since her early childhood. Two of her brothers were elite track and field athlete champions in the Hungarian decathlon and pole vaulting. Dr. Vaczi herself was a professional basketball player. Dr.  Vaczi had great opportunities to study abroad with scholarships, while she was working as a professional basketball player and coach.

The inspiration of a college professor during her undergraduate studies at the Saint Vincent College, as well as her multicultural experiences, made her choose a very apt career as an anthropologist. Dr. Vaczi earned her PhD in Basque Studies and Anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Under the guidance of Dr. Joseba Zulaika, she was a very successful student who was able to demonstrate her ability to write and publish high-quality work in anthropology.

Dr. Vaczi’s familiarity with sport is reflected in her research interests in the areas of the anthropology and sociology of sport, games, and folk performances. Her  latest publication is a book titled Soccer, Culture and Society in Spain: An Ethnography of Basque Fandom, published by Routledge.

Dr. Vaczi also edited the CBS publication, Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sports, a collection of conference papers exploring multiple dimensions of popular sports in both the Basque Country and beyond.