Left to right: Daniel Montero, Argitxu Camus-Etxecopar, Aizpea Goenaga, Bill Douglass, Mari Jose Olaziregi, and Koldo San Sebastián
Five of the Center’s books on the Basque diaspora in the United States were presented at the brand new and ultra hip Tabakalera Cultural Center in Donostia-San Sebastián yesterday. Myself, along with researchers Koldo San Sebastián and Argitxu Camus-Etxecopar, author (and all-around Mr. Basque) Bill Douglass, and with co-sponsors of the event the Etxepare Basque Institute represented by director Aizpea Goenaga and director of the diffusion of Basque Mari Jose Olaziregi, presented five books that treat the Basque diaspora in the United States from a variety of perspectives: the 2 volumes of Basques in the United States, led by Koldo San Sebastián and Argitxu Camus-Etxecopar but also representing a network of reseachers looking at Basque immigration through time and space, Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean by Bill Douglass, Zelestina Urza in Outer Space by David Romtvedt, and Garmendia and the Black Rider by Kirmen Uribe and illustrated by Mikel Valverde. We chose these books to present on the diaspora because of the variety of perspective, viewpoints and voices that they bring to writing about the presence of Basques in the United States.
The event received wide coverage in the Basque press, including an important story in El Diario Vasco.
As readers of this blog will surely know, Basques in the United Statesrepresents a giant undertaking that has already been the product of many years of research and that will certainly result in many more. Now containing names and bibliographic information for nearly 10,000 Basque immigrants, we hope in forthcoming editions to grow this into as a complete and comprehensive as possible encyclopedia of all first-generation Basque immigrants to the United States. We hope to do this with the continuing diligence of researchers like Koldo and Argitxu (and too many others to name here), but also with your help, that is why we’ve set up basquesintheus.blogs.unr.edu where we hope that interested people will also help us continue this important historical work.
Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean is a different kind of work altogether, one of the most recent publications by one of the most important Basque researchers and anthropologists of all-time, it takes readers on an exciting journey along with the galleons and caravels of the “Spanish” empire when Basque mariners formed an essential corpus in the empires exploration of this tremendous area which was known for more than 200 years as the “Spanish lake.”
Zelestina Urza in Outer Space provides yet a different aspect on Basque immigration, telling the story of young Zelestina Urza, who is just 16 years old when she arrives in Wolf, Wyoming from the green hills of Arnegi, throuhg her story, and her friendship with another young Native America woman, not only is the Basque diaspora explored, but also are the whole idea of the “winning” of the west and what it really meant in human terms.
Finally, Garmendia and the Black Rider takes maybe the most exotic take on the Basque diaspora of all of the books presented. Written by acclaimed Basque poet and novelist Kirmen Uribe, it treats the subject of the Basque immigrant from the perspective of modern Basque culture, and, as a children’s book, also with an eye that brings the Western experience to life in a completely different way that what we are usually presented with.
In addition to the presentation of the book, there was also other exciting news at the presentation. The Etxepare Institute has organized, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the creation of a William A. Douglass chair in Anthropology, which will help us continue to build strong academic links that promote Basque Studies throughout the United States and the world!
What an exciting day for Basque culture in the diaspora and everywhere!