Tag: migration

Faculty News 2017: William Douglass

On February 8 and 9, 2017, William Douglass presented public lectures in Boise, Idaho. The first day he gave a seminar on the Basques in Cuba & Beyond in a Basque Culture Class at Boise State University and that afternoon he addressed a University-wide audience on the subject of “Migration and Identity.” The following evening his talk at the Boise Basque Museum was entitled “A Basque Author’s Reflections.” All three events were well attended and were followed by lively public discussion. Before returning to Reno Douglass enjoyed a lunch with the Goitiandias–his Boise Basque  “family.” All are descendants of the baserri Goitiandia of Aulestia, Bizkaia, where Bill and his family lived for about a year (1964) while he conducted his anthropological field research for his doctoral dissertation. He subsequently presented his Cuba lecture at the Center for Basque Studies and his “Migration and Identity” one in a seminar at the University of Nevada-Reno Knowledge Center.



“Ulysses Syndrome” Lecture by Dr. Joseba Achotegui at the CBS


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Prof. Dr. Joseba Achotegui

Last Monday, September 11, we welcomed the author of the “Ulysses Syndrome,” Prof. Dr. Joseba Achotegui from the University of Barcelona to the Center for Basque Studies. He is the General Secretary of the Transcultural Section at the World Psychiatric Association,  a psychiatrist, and tenured professor. He has also been the Director of SAPPIR (Psychopathological and Psychosocial Support Service for Immigrants and Refugees) at the Hospital of Sant Pere Claver in Barcelona,  and  Director of the online postgraduate course”Mental health, cultural processes and psychological interventions with immigrants, minorities, and the socially excluded” at the University of Barcelona since 1997. The purpose of his visit was to explain the “Ulysses Syndrome,” its consequences and possible solutions.

The Ulysses Syndrome has become more common in the 21st century with the increase in the migration of individuals. He explained how migrating today is becoming a process that is so intense and stressful for millions of people that they are unable to overcome these difficulties. Because of this inability to adapt to their new countries, these individuals are the candidates for the Ulysses Syndrome (with reference to the Greek hero who suffered countless adversities and dangers far from his loved ones). He argued that even though Ulysses was a demigod, he barely survived the terrible adversities and dangers of his journey. Extrapolating The Odyssey to those individuals who enter new surroundings and suffer the difficulties of integration, Achotegui has set out a diagnosis for mental health problems that are not pathological. 

The set of symptoms that make up this syndrome are now an emerging mental health problem in the host countries of immigrants. He described the most important stressors as: the forced separation of loved ones, a rupture in the attachment instinct, the feeling of hopelessness due to the failure of the migration project and the lack of opportunities, and the struggle for survival. He mentioned different steps and ways to help these migrants who go through Ulysses Syndrome, such as breathing and relaxation techniques, physical exercise, eating habits and positive thinking. All these thing can help in their adaptation process.  

Prf. Dr. Joseba Achotegui

Prof. Dr. Achotegui at the Center for Basque Studies by Inaki Arrieta Baro, Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

It was a very interesting presentation for many of us who immigrated to the United States.  Thankfully, the CBS and its team make the transition as comfortable as possible, however, there will always be challenges when facing new situations.  It definitely gave a perspective of how previous and current immigrants struggle for survival and integration in their new host countries.

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.


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.


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

An interview with Edurne Arostegui: Visiting Scholar from the University of the Basque Country.

  • What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies?

I was very lucky to have received the Begoña Aretxaga Travel Stipend this year, and the best part was that I got the email on my birthday, making it by far the best present. I’m currently a doctoral student at the UPV/EHU and the opportunity to have access to the library here was something I couldn’t miss out on. It certainly hasn’t disappointed me.

I initially came with the idea of putting myself through a sort of academic boot camp: non-stop reading, note-taking and writing. The CBS is the ideal place to study because of the diversity of materials housed in its really accessible facilities. What I didn’t realize till I arrived is the atmosphere CBS faculty, students, and staff have created along with the ongoing interaction with other visiting scholars. Besides working hard and getting good work done, I’ve had an engaging and worthwhile experience.

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

My dissertation deals with the construction of Basque-American identity in the American West through the analysis of the stereotypes and imagery presented in works of western fiction and non-fiction, specifically, cowboy dime novels, and the stories of migrants. Although I am a historian through formation, I believe that the use of literary sources contextualized with events in migration history, both from the Basque and American perspective, help shed new light in the understanding of Basque-American identity. The aim is to understand how American society perceived and stereotyped Basque immigrants, and how in turn, second and third generation Basques turned these same stereotypes on their heads in order to create markers of a new hybrid identity.

The Basque migration experience and integration, or lack of, into the host society shaped their identity, not only within their community but also in its outward representation. Once Basque-American identity was assumed, what relationship did these migrants maintain with their homeland and how has it changed up to present? Migration obviously changes identity, while identity marks representation and recognition from both a political and socio-cultural standpoint. Therefore, the study of this process of identity creation helps us understand the actors and forces that change history.

  • Would you say that this research, is quite unique?

Well, I think as academics, we all think our research is unique, or else we wouldn’t be doing it! However, much attention has been given to literary sources, I guess it’s a sexy topic. I’m interested in how American society perceived Basques and how they became a part of the history of the West. Instead of solely focusing on the migrant experience, I aim to understand identity through the lens of the spectator, trying to look past the rose-tinted glasses of pastoral romanticization. Surely, once I get further along in my research it will become more unique and distinctive, or so I hope.

  • What have you accomplished since you arrived?

I’ve read, a lot! I came with a list of sources that I wanted to check out before coming, but it’s always interesting to see what you come across by chance and what other people are doing. My stay has given me the chance to become immersed in all things Basque. I’ve met great people and have probably spoken and listened to more Basque here than in the Basque Country!

  • Are you enjoying the U.S.?

I’m from California so of course I enjoy coming home to the States. That being said, Reno is a completely new experience for me and I like what I see. It’s amazing to be surrounded by the landscape of the places that appear in my research. I never realized how tranquil and inspiring the desert could be, especially its vast and colorful sunsets. Reno has surprised me in many ways and I can’t wait to get another opportunity to return.

An Interview with Pedro Oiarzabal: Get Involved with Memoria Bizia

Pedro J. Oiarzabal, a researcher on Migration and Diaspora Studies at the Pedro Arrupe Human Rights Institute (University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain) and the Jon Bilbao Research Fellow at the Center for Basque Studies is visiting us in order to continue with his innovative and daring research project: Memoria Bizia (Living Memory). The Basque Diaspora Living Heritage Project 2014-16. United States and Canada. We had the opportunity to talk to him during his brief stay in Reno.

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

Memoria Bizia aims at collecting, preserving, and disseminating the history of migration and exile through the personal oral testimonies of elderly Basque men and women residing in the United States and Canada. In fact, this community, the Basque communities across the U.S. and Canada, become active protagonists instead of being research “subjects.”

In a sense, this research, if not unique, at least departs from the typical academic study, would you say?

In this project, the researcher becomes just the conduit of the social community-based network that we are creating. The project’s main idea is to build an intergenerational and sustainable bridge within the different Basque communities to save the living memory of their elders. In this regard, Memoria Bizia seeks to empower local Basque individuals, communities, and their associations to be active participants in their own history. It is a different way of generating information and knowledge, while fostering values such as ownership.

How do you intend to accomplish it?

From the very beginning, the community has taken part in the design and implementation of the project, with the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) being the main force behind Memoria Bizia. For years, we have talked about the need to carry out interviews with the last Basque migrant generation. Fortunately, last year, four organizations—NABO, the Basque Government, the Etxepare Basque Institute, and the University of Deusto—understood the importance of recording those testimonies and got together to fund this project. In addition, I have designed specific training workshops to teach individuals how to conduct and process oral history interviews. In a way, the interviewer and the interviewee are coauthors and co-owners of the resulting testimony.

What do you intend to do with the oral history interviews?

Both the interviewer and interviewee are constructing narratives by weaving an intertwined living memory tapestry, resulting in an unprecedented database open to everyone who wishes to explore and analyze the history of immigration and settlement through Basque eyes. This digital database will constitute a living treasure for future generations to come. Consequently, we have established three official repositories for the long-term preservation of the audio/video recordings: the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Boise, and the University of Deusto Library. Our goal is to establish more archives to store hard copies of the recordings in the near future.

This idea of an open network goes beyond Basque America, right?

Correct, not only Basque communities but also different institutions, such as the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, Montreal (Quebec), the Great Basin College, Elko, the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at the Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and New York University have seen the urgent need for such research and have enthusiastically joined this open network. We are extremely fortunate to have them as partners and grateful for their unconditional support.

What has been the response from the local communities?

It has been phenomenal! So far, local interviewing teams, made up of numerous trained volunteers, have been set up in different locations, including Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and New York, Chino, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Elko, Ontario (Oregon), Boise, and Reno in the U.S. And also there are associated projects in Miami, Bishop, and Northwest Mojave (California). This constitutes the largest ever ensemble community-based network with the goal of collecting and preserving the oral history of Basques in the United States and Canada in a systematic and standardized way. We are also in the process of identifying potential interviewees, while we have begun interviewing some of those already identified.

What next? If a person wants to join the project, what does he/she need to do?

The project is eager to geographically span areas such as Fresno, Los Banos, Susanville, Gardnerville-Minden, Utah, and Wyoming in the United States, and British Columbia in Canada. At the same time, we need to reinforce the existing teams with new volunteers, particularly young members of the Basque communities. We are also seeking new partners to sponsor new initiatives across the country. Consequently, anyone interested in participating in the project, as an interviewer or an interviewee, or anyone wanting to establish an interviewing team in their local area or wanting to join an existing one, please contact Kate Camino at info@nabasque.org