Tag: Identity

Visiting scholar Aritz Farwell at the Center for Basque Studies

What brings you to CBS?

I am completing a doctoral thesis on the political, social, and cultural perspectives that existed about Basque at the start of the twentieth century.

 

What is the goal of the project?

The primary goal is to discover what the discourses surrounding Basque were like at the time and to see if they were common across many different sorts of texts and contexts.  For example, did what was said about Basque in a political context translate into what was said about it in a zarzuela?  A secondary, future goal, will be to compare the perspectives on Basque of this era to those that came later.

 

Is the research unique?

Parts of the story are well known.  The early nationalists’ relationship with Basque, for instance, is a subject included in the thesis that has received a good deal of attention.  Other areas are more obscure.  An example of something that has garnered less scrutiny, perhaps, are the practical and ideological reasons behind why Basque was required for certain local government positions at the turn of the century.  But one of the more unique aspects of the research is the approach, which encompasses a more synchronic rather than diachronic sweep of how Basque was understood.  The result of casting a wide net over a shorter period of time is a fairly detailed account of how Basque was perceived, which makes it possible to see that similar themes were attached to the language, and the people that spoke it, across texts of a diverse nature.

 

What have you completed since arriving?

A good deal—essentially the final section of the thesis, which focuses on Basque in the cultural sphere, which is to say its presence in literature, plays, music, bertso, etc.  The library and the Center are great places to work and everybody here has been very helpful.

 

Are you enjoying the US?

Very much so.  Being American, visiting Reno is a homecoming of sorts.  But I didn’t know the city or the region and it has been a pleasure exploring another part of the US with my family and the friends I’ve met here.  I hope I’ll have another opportunity to visit again in the future sometime!

Ismael Manterola Ispizua from the University of the Basque Country visits the CBS

 

Ismael Manterola Ispizua, art history professor at the EHU/UPV

What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies Ismael?

A couple of years ago I presented my project to obtain the Douglass Scholarship. It was a project I had in mind since then.  In fact I decided to publish a book. In recent years I made some progress on the book so I decided that it would be a good idea to consult the Basque Library and applied for USAC scholarship.

Can you tell us what the goal of the project is?

My aim is to finish the book I am writing. The book is about the transmission of values in the twentieth-century art in the Basque Country. I think there are certain values that artists transmitted throughout the twentieth century, from the modern project of the early twentieth-century to the end of the 90s (values like the trend associations, thinking about identity, the link between art and ethical positions, etc.). Basically, it is the research of a kind of an intergenerational continuity or continuities in Basque contemporary art.

What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I am working very hard and I managed to finish some chapters due the rhythm of work you have in the library. In my opinion it is a good place to work. You can work for 8 straight hours at a time and you have all the books you need to hand.

Are you enjoying the U.S.?

Yes, a lot. I am discovering different aspects of American life very quickly. In addition I am in a USAC program and they organize lot of activities to get to know the country better, especially the cultural life you have here. Besides this, summer in Reno is exciting with an interesting cultural program in different places, but especially in downtown: music, art, cinema…

Remembering the “Sagebrush Battle” 84 Years Later

On July 4, 1931, on an extremely hot summer day, a long expected boxing match took place in Reno, Nevada: Max Baer vs. Paulino Uzkudun. The “Sagebrush Battle,” as the Nevada State Journal titled it, was a tough twenty-round fight between heavyweights Baer, from California, and Uzkudun, the professional Basque boxer from Errezil, Gipuzkoa. Not risking anything, both fighters resisted each other and tried to avoid falling to the burning ground until the very end. Finally, Uzkudun was victorious over Baer after Jack Dempsey, in his dual role as referee and promoter, raised the Basque boxer’s hand.

sagebrush battle

Nevada State Journal front page on July 4, 1931

The fight was greatly hyped. The match between Max Baer and Paulino Uzkudun in 1931 generated huge interest at both the local and national levels. Next day, on July 5, the New York Times reported the battle round-by-round as follows:

Grinning, gold-toothed Paulino Uzcudun out-roughed Max Baer, rangy Californian,…

Clubbing, butting, heeling, and wrestling marked the battle from the opening gong until [the very end]… The two warriors violated most of the rules of ring etiquette in efforts to beat each other down in the resin of the sun-scorched battle pit.

Cautions by Referee Dempsey had only momentary effect. When Paulino quit cuffing, Baer started heeling. The Californian missed a couple of pivot punches, but not intentionally. On occasions, they butted like goats. Baer started wrestling and Uzcudun retaliated by twisting his rival half way out of the ring.

…Kidney and rabbit punches, therefore, were countenanced.

For a twenty-round bout, the big fellows set an unusually fast pace. The last five rounds developed the more furious exchanges. As they struggled along, mauling and planting solid punches in swift rallies, the advantage see-sawed from one to the other.

At no time was either out in front and at the end of the nineteenth Referee Dempsey told newspaper men the last round would decide the fight. Paulino had the better of the last session. He tore into his bigger rival and rushed him into the ropes, meanwhile scoring heavily with hard punches to the midsection. Baer’s occasional rallies were weak-hearted.

Baer went into the bout with most of the physical advantages on his side, but Paulino was the favorite from the start. Ignoring Baer’s superior reach, the sturdy Basque bobbed in and out to thump the Californian regularly with solid lefts to the body.

In the fifth round, Paulino scored with some heavy blows to the jaw and Baer appeared in distress. But by the time the eighth round rolled around, the Californian was leading with his stocky rival retreating around the ring.

Uzcudun’s greater experience stood him in good stead. He fought cooly, whereas Baer lost his head at times to beat the air with wild swings…

The match attracted around 18,000 people. This fight went hand in hand with the legalization of gambling in Nevada as means of economic development during this critical period in the American history in the early thirties. The Baer-Uzkudun match of 1931, according to historian Richard Davies, revived the fusion of the western athletic hero and economic promotion in Reno.

reno uzcudun

Reno’s Virginia Street days before the boxing match

Furthermore, the victory of Uzkudun over Baer resulted in a great deal of pride on the part of the Basque-American community. Unsurprisingly, Basques living in Reno and surrounding areas took an active interest in the fight during the days before and after the event. Almost the whole Basque immigrant community of northwestern Nevada attended this big fight, including a large number of sheepherders who absented themselves from their work on the rangelands. Indeed, this fight provided a historic opportunity for this immigrant group to express pride in its roots and reaffirm its Basqueness in the American West.

Uzcudun,Paulino 8-18-30a

Promotional photograph of Paulino Uzkudun, 1930


Sources:

  • “Fighters Ready For Sagebrush Battle,” Nevada State Journal,  July 4, 1931.
  • “Paulino Defeats Baer in Reno Bout,” New York Times, July 5, 1931.
  • Richard O. Davies, “A ‘Fistic Festival’ in Reno: Promoting Nevada’s New Economy,” Mariann Vaczi, ed., Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport (Reno: Center for Basque Studies, 2013), 295-314.
  • Richard O. Davies, The Main Event: Boxing in Nevada from the Mining Camps to the Las Vegas Strip (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2014).

To learn more about this story, check out the book Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport, in which you can find an interesting chapter on the Baer-Uzkudun match by Richard Davies entitled “A ‘Fistic Festival’ in Reno: Promoting Nevada’s New Economy.”

“Bertshow,” the Gipuzkoan reconquest of the United States

Get prepared euskaldunak, for an eventful Summer 2015! Incredibly cool events are taking shape to save us from the summer heat. The Atlantic Ocean is going to become the bridge between the Basque Country and the United States. The Basque “exodus” is about to start… Are you ready?

“Bertshow,” the Gipuzkoan reconquest of the United States, consists of a nine-member delegation that will be performing in American Basque Centers during July and August.  This will be a very interesting transcultural experience based on the Basque oral tradition of Bertsos.

The main goal of this project is to bring Basque culture to the diaspora. The project consists of:  music, bertsolaritza, and Basque knowledge transmission. The group is going to speak about topics that should be of great interest to the Basque diaspora.

Bertshow will be a truly unique two-part performance aimed at building a cross-cultural bridge.  The first part will be a review of Basque music, the famous songs that are part of the Basque history, incorporating a performance made up of both singing and speech. The second part, meanwhile, will consist of the traditional bertso-saio musikatua (bertsos set to music) combined with familiar melodies to an American audience from songs such as “Let it Be,” “Blowing in the Wind,” and others in order to create a unique transcultural experience.

After its trip to the American Wild West, the group will compile their experiences in order to tour the Basque Country and share their new found perspective of the Basque diaspora.

They are going to be here, in Reno,  between the August 3 and 6.  

Basic concepts to understand the goals of this team.

1. Bertsoalaritza.

National sport of words.

2. Musika

Music is a universal language able to demolish the boundaries between cultures. A feature connected with Basque identity is knowledge of oral popular songs.  They want to get to know the Basque heritage in the United States. Combining Basque classical music with its newer counterparts.

  • Maite ditut maite (Mikel Laboa)
  • Eperra (Herrikoia -Zuberoa-)
  • Maiteak galde egin zautan (Imanol Larzabal)
  • Nire herriko neskatxa maite (Benito Lertxundi)
  • Martin larralde (Ruper Ordorika)
  • Lau teilatu (Itoiz)
  • Marinelaren zai (Sorotan Bele)
  • Mendigoxaliarena (Ken 7 –Lauaxeta-)
  • Betazalak erauztean (Katamalo)
  • Txoria txori (Mikel Laboa)
  • Xalbadorren heriotzean (Xabier Lete)
  • Izarren hautsa (Mikel Laboa)

3. Talks

The talks are going to be in Basque, with a simultaneous translation to English.  The talk is going to be divided into three topics: culture (what bertsolaritza is, the history of bertsolaritza from Profazadora’s until Maialen Lujanbio, and the tools needed  to create a bertso); the Basque language (The transmission of Basque and bertsolaritza in diglosic areas and the state of the Basque language over the course of the last two centuries); and finally music (the different melodies used in bertsos, a little history about Basque music).

The Bertsolaris:

Jon Martin

Inigo Mantzisidor ‘Mantxi’

Arkaitz Oiartzabal ‘Xamoa’

Jokin Labayen

Manex Mujika

Trasnlator:

Haritz Casabal

Musicians:

Ixak Arruti

Urtzi Olaziregi

Eneko Sierra

Functions:

Boise, Reno, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston.

Anyone interested in bertsolaritza should check out Voicing the Moment: Improvised Oral Poetry and Basque Tradition, edited by Samuel G. Armistead and Joseba Zulaika. This is a collection of essays on both bertsolaritza and other oral traditions from all over the world. These articles include chapters on how bertsos are created, bertsolaris in the American West, and the musical foundations of bertsolaritza. The book is available free to download here.