Tag: Etxepare Institute

Iceland Conference Digs Deep into Whaling and Basque-Icelandic Cross-Cultural Exchange, Seeks to Heal Some Very Old Wounds

In September 1615, a group of 31 Basque whalers who had been stranded on the coast of Iceland after their ships were destroyed in a gale, and who had then clashed with local Icelanders, were slaughtered. This year is the 400th anniversary of what became known as the “Spanish Massacre” and in commemoration the Center, various institutions of Basque government including the Extepare Institute and the provincial government of Gipuzkoa, the University of Iceland, the Icelandic government, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the AIB, the Association of Icelandic Friendship in the Basque Country. The conference features, as reported by the Icelandic media outlet mbl.is a “symbolic act of reconciliation” that will feature the Center’s own Xabier Irujo, a descendant of one of the Basques who died, and Mag­nús Rafns­son, a descendant of one the per­pe­tra­tors of the “Span­ish mas­sacre.”

According to Wikipedia (in an uncited article), this was the last documented massacre in Icelandic history. The conference marking its commemoration will delve well beyond the massacre however, bringing in researchers from around the world to discuss the rich Basque-Icelandic cross-cultural exchange. In addition to the global scholars, dignitaries including  Martín Gar­i­tano, Deputy-Gen­eral of Gipuzkoa and Il­lugi Gun­nars­son, Icelandic Min­is­ter for Cul­ture will be in attendance. Among the many events, the conference will also hold an event to celebrate the publication of William Douglass’s new book, Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, available now!

Click here to see a program of events for the full conference and here to see more Extepare Institute information (in Spanish). In addition to the academic and commemorative events, there will also be, on April 22, a concert featuring Basque musical group Oreka TX and Icelandic musicians.


A view of early seventeenth-century whaling.


Grants for Translators to Study Basque in the Basque Country

Donostia-San Sebastián 2016 European Capital of Culture and  the Etxepare Basque Institute, in collaboration with EIZIE (the Association of Translators, Correctors and Interpreters of Basque Language), have just launched a new program aimed at bringing translators to the Basque Country to study Euskara (the Basque language), with a view to them incorporating Basque as either a pivot or source language for their future translations.


“E Translating Wikipedia” by Marbora – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons


The translators chosen will be awarded grants to live in at a barnetegi (a boarding school for adult learners of Basque) and complete intensive Basque-language classes there.

This is a great offer for anyone interested in learning (or improving their) Basque as well as using this knowledge professionally. The deadline for applications is May 14. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


Anyone interested in studying Basque should check out Nancy Zubiri’s affectionate record here of her journey on the road to becoming an euskaldun or Basque speaker.  And for the experience of living and studying in a barnetegi, see the “Euskaldundu: One Girl’s Journey to the Land and Language of Her Ancestors” blog at the EITB (Basque Public Media Group) website.

If you’re interested in the Basque language, check out Estibaliz Amorrortu’s Basque Sociolinguistics, which examines the social and cultural aspects of Euskara, and The Challenge of a Bilingual Society in the Basque Country, edited by Pello Salaburu and Xabier Alberdi, a collection of essays that explores the current status of Basque and the challenges it faces as a minority language.

Interview with Visiting Professor and CBS Graduate Iker Arranz

Q:  What brought you back to UNR and what was your role within the conference?


Pictured above on far right, Dr. Arranz, along with presenters from the conference “Exploring Diversity and Equity in Education”


A: I was attending the conference on “Exploring Diversity and Equity in Education” organized by the Cultural Diversity Committee at UNR, which gave me the opportunity to share some thoughts on the actual panorama on education and the American Education System, and also give a brief but interesting perspective on my personal experience teaching Basque Language and Culture, as something directly related to the main topic of the conference. I explored the ideas of “difference” and “diversity” as complementing but sometimes contradictory terms, when it comes down to applying them with our students and their cultural backgrounds. For example, for me it’s very interesting how, if you find the right stimulus, American students with no previous knowledge on Basque stuff are hooked and even think about visiting the Basque Country to include it as a part of their educational programs/requirements. This proves that diversity, in this global era, is like fresh air when we are educating these kids.

And of course, I took the opportunity of being back in Reno to visit my beloved CBS, see old friends and meet the new students. I was delighted with the welcome this old folks offered and happily surprised with the new incorporations! (Nothing beats being surrounded by this crazy Basque people again!) I truly think that there is a very interesting group now of different ages and cultural backgrounds that will definitely help in the development of the dissertations. Sometimes, there is no better ground for cultural studies than diverse positions that will offer multiple perspectives on the same topic.

Q:  What is your current position at the University of Santa Barbara and what classes are you looking forward to teaching?  How are your students?  What do you enjoy about your position?

A: I currently hold the Basque Lecturer position in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, at UCSB, this position is sponsored by Etxepare Institute. I have been teaching Basque Language (101, 102), Basque Culture and Basque Cinema so far. I will be teaching first time ever a course on Culinary Arts and Identity this coming quarter, with some visiting Scholars and a Chef we will bring from the Basque Country, so the students will have the opportunity to taste all the knowledge we will be bringing to them during the quarter. This is something nobody has tried to do yet, so it is a kind of exciting experiment, full of risks and uncertainties, but I willing to take the challenge!

I am really happy with my students! They show lots of implication (one course on Culture ended up having a popular potluck!), although the topic is completely new for almost all of them, they discover literally a new universe and they really enjoy our tradition, history and specially how all this can be related to strong debates on identity and culture. They see that every single tradition can be thought within theoretical frames that help to understand how deep and complex these topics can be.

And about teaching, definitely, the best part of this job is when I finish the class, pack everything and while I walk through the corridor I have the feeling of having done something good for these kids. It’s a very simple feeling and it’s a feeling that only lasts probably few seconds, but it’s a great feeling indeed!

Q: Can you tell us about the conference in Portugal and what you presented on?

A: I was attending this conference on Political Violence in the XX Century, organized by Universidad Nova de Lisboa. The conference was interesting enough to revisit some of the well-known topics on violence, dictatorship, repression, and so on. I tried to push the boundaries a little bit, and prepared a communication on how Fernando Pessoa is inaugurating a new era in terms of Western´s thought tradition, literally placing these debates on political violence somewhere further than the actual perspectives, and somehow linking it to the concept of change (a topic that I worked on my dissertation). It was funny to go to Lisbon to talk about Pessoa, since he is one of the most famous and studied figures they have- I enjoyed doing it! This is a research I need to work on yet, but there are definitely some connections in the thought of Pessoa and Joseba Sarrionandia. This is an idea for possible upcoming research.