Tag: william a douglass

The William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies 50th Anniversary

Photo credit: Josu Zubizarreta

During the darkest days, when we were denied our language, our culture and our identity, we were consoled by the knowledge that an American university in Nevada had lit one small candle in the night.

-Lehendakari Jose Antonio Ardanza, March 1988

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

Last week, on November 8, the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary with CBS faculty, students, and staff as well as countless members of the Basque community and supporters of the Center. Held at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library, the space was packed quickly. There was food and drink and a wonderful atmosphere. People reconnected with old friends and new ones at the lively event. Here’s some background on the CBS ‘s History and Mission:

History

Originally called the Basque Studies Program, the Center was created in 1967 as part of the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno. At that time, the DRI was creating new programs to reach various aspects of the Great Basin’s inhabitants and history. The idea for studying the Basques was proposed since Basque-Americans have long formed a prominent minortiy in the region and have contributed a great deal to its development. Bill Douglass served as the Program’s director from 1967-1999, when he retired to become Professor Emeritus in Basque Studies. The Basque Studies Program was renamed the Center for Basque Studies as a result of a program review conducted in 1999.

CBS Mission

The primary mission of the CBS is to conceive, facilitate, conduct, and disseminate the results of interdisciplinary research on the Basques to a local, regional, national, and internation audience, and by extension to draw attention to the human experience of small ethnic groups. The Center seeks to maintain excellence in all its endeavors and to achieve its goals through high quality research, publications, conferences, active involvement in scholarly networks throughout the world, as well as through service and teaching.

Channel 2 News was present and recorded a short news video on the event, available online. In it, they interview Xabier Irujo, the CBS director, and Dr. Sandy Ott, one of our professors. The video definitely captures the mood of the event.

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

President Johnson of UNR was given the word first, and he spoke of the history of the CBS and its impact on the UNR campus. He has taken a few trips to the Basque Country with the advisory council and genuinely enjoys our culture! Next up came William A. Douglass, our namesake and one of the founders of the CBS, as well as a pioneering researcher on Basques in the U.S. Douglass reflected on the center’s history and his own place within it. Dr. Irujo then spoke about both the CBS and Basque Studies in a global context, providing jokes and anecdotes. We were then honored by Jesus Goñi’s bertsoak celebrating the Center’s place in Basque history.

Photo Credit: Iñaki Arrieta-Baro

Photo Credit: Gemma Martín Valdanzo

Overall, it was a great event that gathered so many voices from the Basque community and academia. To 50 more years of the CBS!

 

 

 

 

 

“Basques in Cuba” : William A. Douglass to lecture at the CBS

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 22, from 12:30-1:30, Professor Emeritus William A. Douglass will give a lecture on “Basques in Cuba” at the Center for Basque Studies. He will inaugurate the Spring 2017 Basque Multidisciplinary Seminar Series the Center organizes, presenting on a topic explored in Basques in Cuba, a collection of articles edited by Professor Douglass and published after the eleventh international ‘Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi” Congress held in Havana, Cuba in 2015. Here’s a brief description of the volume:

Taking as their inspiration and cue Jon Bilbao’s book Vascos en Cuba, 1492–1511, the authors of this book, a collection of international academics, take up the subject of the involvement of the Basque people in Cuba from a variety of viewpoints and analytical and theoretical perspectives. The Basque Country has had a long and varied relationship with Cuba, its people, and its history. The chapters in this volume trace that connection based on diverse topics and viewpoints: the representations of Basques in classic Cuban poetry and Cuba as a topic in the nineteenth-century Basque novel; the involvement of Basques in the African slave trade, the role of the Tree in Gernika in Cuba’s Templete monument, the service of Basque parliamentarians and soldiers in Spain’s former colony, and the politics of Basque priests on the island are all treated, as well as much more. There are also chapters that consider the involvement of Basques regionally, in places such as Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Vueltabajo, and Havana. Edited by renowned Basque scholar William A. Douglass, this volume provides an important contribution in reclaiming a mostly neglected history. (from the back cover)

Be sure to attend if you happen to find yourself in Reno, and stay tuned for the seminar series schedule, you won’t want to miss out!

Bill Douglass to inaugurate “Elorriaga Basque Culture Series” at Boise State University

Bill Douglass will be at Boise State University on February 8 and 9 to inaugurate the “Elorriaga Basque Culture Series,” which will endeavor to showcase various forms of Basque culture. On campus he’ll be speaking to two courses (to which others are invited) on Wednesday, February 8: From 12:00-1:15 he will speak to the “Basque Culture” course on the topic of “Basques in Cuba” and then, from 3:00-4:15 he’ll speak to the “Navigating Identity” course on the topic of migration.

The following day, Thursday, February 9, he will offer a community talk titled “A ‘Basque’ author’s reflections,” which will be an overview of his publications in Basque Studies & beyond.

Click here for more information.

Book Review: Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, by William A. Douglass

We’d like to share a recent review of William A. Douglass’s new book Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean. Published in CritCom: A forum on research and commentary on Europe, Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, a PhD candidate in Human Rights at the University of Deusto,  outlines the structure and content of the book, pointing out interesting aspects of Douglass’s new research endeavors.

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Here’s just a sample of the review:

“Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, by William Douglass introduces the reader to how Basques from a tiny territory once pivotal for the whole Iberian Peninsula (comprising the Kingdom of Navarra, later absorbed by Spain, as well as Bizkaia, Guipuzkoa and Araba regions) became an important part of the Spanish colonial empire as administrators and merchants, as well as ship-builders, ship captains, and sailors.

Basque explorers took an active part in Spanish expeditions and explorations on the Pacific region (and elsewhere in the world). From the early Spanish expeditions overseas, Basques were among those who helped establish and sustain the Spanish Empire. They played integral roles, whether as ship captains and crew members, or the leaders of successful trade companies and rulers as Spanish proxies in colonial administrations.

Douglass’s Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean is an interesting and detailed lesson of the period’s history, despite some moments of digression over royal intrigues, which condense into a single book the dispersed knowledge on the role of the Basques in the Pacific, serving as a good guide for future discussions.

Going further from the general choosing of describing an explorer’s life, or an expedition’s fate and accomplishments, Douglass seeks to insert different explorers and explorations in a unique context, relating at least two centuries of Spanish naval explorations (and Portuguese) with the formation of the Spanish Empire and its subsequent decline.

The book, one can conclude, broadens the knowledge of the participation of Basques in the making of the Spanish maritime empire that would last for centuries.”

We encourage you to read the entire piece at the following website: http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/basque-explorers-in-the-pacific-ocean-2/

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To learn more about Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, visit his Academia page, which includes links to some of his research papers: https://deusto.academia.edu/RaphaelTsavkkoGarcia

Last but not least, check out Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean:

Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean

 

New faculty position at the Center for Basque Studies

The CBS is looking for a new assistant professor. As the center nears its 50th anniversary, we can reflect on its establishment and bright future.

“In 1967 a small Basque studies program was established within the social sciences division of the Great Basin Institute. Originally established to study the Basques as an integral part of the sheep industry that had so influenced the development of the Intermountain West, over time (and since incorporated officially into the University of Nevada, Reno), the Center for Basque Studies has become the leading research and educational institute of its kind outside the European Basque homeland.” (http://basque.unr.edu/information-mission_history.html)

“The primary mission of the Center is to facilitate, conduct and disseminate the results of interdisciplinary research on the Basques to a local, regional, national and international audience, and by extension to draw attention to the human experience of small ethnic groups. Currently, the Center administers a minor in Basque Studies and Tutorial Ph.D. Program. Diversity is central to the mission of Basque Studies. Our faculty, staff and students strive to foster an environment that is conducive to exploring, engaging, and expressing diverse perspectives and respectful of diverse identities.” (https://www.unrsearch.com/postings/21852)

The CBS welcomes new perspectives and research into the many diverse fields in which Basques have played a part throughout the world.

For anyone interested in learning more about the center and one of its founders, William A. Douglass, the center’s namesake, check out Mr. Basque by Miel A. Elustondo.

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http://basquebooks.myshopify.com/products/william-a-douglass-mr-basque

And for anyone who wants to know more about the position, please visit:

https://www.unrsearch.com/postings/21852

 

Nevada Governor, UNR President and Many More Come out to Celebrate Our Renaming as the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies

We are so proud and honored to have welcomed many dignitaries and old friends last night for the official renaming event in which the Center for Basque Studies has become the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies. The event, and the renaming was the result of an incredible amount of hard work by the Center’s faculty, staff, and advisory board, as well as the great people of the University of Nevada Reno. This event was not only a celebration of the work of Bill Douglass, but also of the place that the Center has forged in the hearts and minds of the state of Nevada, attested by the fact that both UNR President Marc Johnson and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called “A jewel in the crown” of the university and of the state. It is such an honor and privilege to get to represent this amazing center, a unique place in the world, as we move forward proudly carrying the name of founder and father of Basque Studies, William A. Douglass.

Here are some of our favorite moments from the night, including remarks by Governor Sandoval, President Johnson, and Bill himself.

Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World 40 YEARS!

Amerikanuak (1975), by William A. Douglas and Jon Bilbao, is a cornerstone in studies of Basque emigration and diaspora. Although in the last four decades a lot of research has been carried out on this topic, this book is still essential today.

From October 14 and until December 9, different universities in the Basque Country are honoring this landmark work by holding inter-university seminars on topics related to the book titled “The Basque Country and the Americas: Atlantic Links and Relations.”

October 14: at the University of Navarre, Iruñea-Pamplona: “Navarre and the Americas.”

October 15-16: at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz: “Recovering the North: Companies, Capitals, and Atlantic Projects in the Imperial Hispanic Economy.”

October 23: the University of Pau, in conjunction with Eusko Ikaskuntza (the Basque Studies Society), at the Basque Museum of Baiona: “Research on Basque emigration.”

December 9 at Mondragon University, Arrasate: “The Image and Representation of Basques.”

William Douglass will be in the Basque Country collaborating in these inter-university seminars. For more information about these seminars (in Spanish) click here.

The Center for Basque Studies has more books written and edited by William A. Douglass that you may find interesting, such as: Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, Death after Life: Tales of Nevada, (edited with Carmelo Urza, Linda White, and Joseba Zulaika) The Basque DiasporaGlobal Vasconia, Essays in Basque Social Anthropology and History, and (with Joseba Zulaika) Basque Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (free to download here).

There is even a candid and vivid biography by Miel A. Elustondo, William A. Douglass: Mr. Basque, which will be of interest to anyone who has followed Bill’s work over the years.

 

Auzolan: A Form of Social Innovation Rooted in Traditional Basque Culture?

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Basque women engaged in traditional communal work. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In Basque Culture: Anthropological Perspectives, William Douglass and Joseba Zulaika discuss the importance of the auzoa, the neighborhood or local district, in traditional Basque culture:

Within the householdcentric auzoa, neighborhood ties and obligations constitute primary networks of social and economic relations, including the special relationship that a household maintains with its closest or “first” neighbor(geographically defined), the relationship that the household maintains with three or four of the physically most proximate households, and the relationship that the household maintains with all other households within the auzoa. . . . Traditionally, every household depended on another for first-neighbor obligations. The first neighbor was the initial outsider to be informed whenever there was a crisis . . . The importance of the first-neighbor relationship is eulogized in refrains and reflected in the common statement that it was more important to be on good terms with one’s closest neighbor than with a brother.

The same authors then go on to cite an example of these first-neighbor relations as described in Sandra Ott’s The Circle of Mountains: A Basque Shepherding Community, whereby a loaf of “blessed” bread was circulated around the village of Santa Grazi (Zuberoa) in a clockwise direction as a means of social solidarity and binding ties in the community.

When extended to the second level of relations, auzolan (neighborly or communal work) became especially important at key times of the year: close neighbors assisted one another at harvest time, for example, or during the traditional ritualized slaughtering of household pigs, with perishable meat rationed out to those assisting (and of course the favor returned when it came time for these neighbors to kill their own pigs).

Many of you out there from a rural background, as I am, will probably be familiar with friends and neighbors helping out during harvest time, and returning the favor when called on to do so. And I wouldn’t suggest that such communal ties are specific to traditional Basque culture alone. Indeed, I’m sure they exist all over the world. Nor, indeed, would I say that such traditional bonds need necessarily be just evident in rural life. Indeed, even if we haven’t experienced them first-hand, I’m sure we’ve read books or seen movies set against a backdrop of tight-knit urban communities, whether in small towns or big city neighborhoods.

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New World Basques enjoy a break from communal work. Photo from Basque Library archive

What does fascinate me, though, is the idea that these kinds of local community relations and communal ties, so ritualized in the Basque context and rooted in traditional, rural society, may serve as the basis for more contemporary forms of social innovation. Douglass and Zulaika, for example, go on to mention the claim that the strength of urban industrial cooperativism in the Basque Country, as exemplified by the Mondragon Corporation, is down to traditional forms of economic cooperation in Basque agricultural and fishing practices.  They also qualify the idea, however, by pointing out some of the flaws in this argument.

But whatever the case of this particular argument, I think modern studies of social innovation could benefit from studying these traditional practices in Basque society, practices that predate the strong cooperative movement in  the Basque Country. In 2009, the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation (SICP) was created to engage the social sector (individuals, communities, non-profit organizations, foundations, social enterprises, faith-based organizations, and so on), as well as business and government, in finding new solutions to the challenges facing American society today. This office recognizes the importance of new, bottom-up, grassroots, solutions to such challenges as well as the communal, shared responsibility in finding these solutions. We speak and hear a lot today about the importance of “community” and its associated values. Do we have something to learn from traditional Basque culture? Or is that society too outdated, too rigid? Does it offer little to a contemporary urban society that privileges global movement, flexibility, and change and sees little to learn from traditional rural society? Surely the root of human innovation lies in the very practice of agriculture itself, the techniques and implements developed by humans to work the land. What do you think?

If you’re interested in the subject of innovation, social or otherwise, see Innovation and Values: A European Perspective, by Javier Echeverria, an ambitious attempt to combine different perspectives on innovation in one single work that argues for a “philosophy of innovation.” that addresses different types of values (economic, technological, social, legal, political, and so on), assessing these values in terms of the effects and consequences of innovation processes on their advocates and other agents concerned with them.

See, also, two books in the Center’s Current Research series in partnership with the University of the Basque Country: Implications of Current Research on Social Innovation in the Basque Country, edited by Ander Gurrutxaga Abad and Antonio Rivera; and Innovation: Economic, Social, and Cultural Aspects, edited by Mikel Gómez Uranga and Juan Carlos Miguel de Bustos.

 

 

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.

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A view of early seventeenth-century whaling.