Ongi Etorri! What started out as a personal homepage has grown
to a site that contains nearly 1000 pages and receives over 16,000
hits per day. The popularity of this site is a testament to all of
those who have contributed to this site. Eskerrik asko!
I am always looking to improve the site. If you would like to
contribute, please contact me.
The now defunct Journal of Basque Studies in America was a journal published by Society of Basque Studies in America to promote Basque culture by publishing in English articles that would be of interest to a wider American audience. The goal was to essentially disseminate information about Basque culture that otherwise would not make it to an English speaking audience. That journal, which ended publication in 2011, was transferred to Boise State University and its Basque Studies Program.
Fast forward to today and the journal has been reincarnated as BOGA: Basque Studies Consortium Journal. BOGA has the same basic aims as the Journal of Basque Studies in America, but with a bit more rigorous peer review. Those aims are nicely summarized on the BOGA website:
This journal aims to be a part of the long-standing tradition of Basque higher education as symbolized by the Basque Country’s first university built in Oñati, Gipuzkoa in 1548 (incorporated into our website theme). The town of Oñati also holds additional significance for Boise State University’s Basque Studies Program because it served as the first location for the studies abroad program in the Basque Country in the 1970s. This journal is a multi-disciplinary, peer-reviewed academic publication dedicated to the scholarly study of all aspects of Basque culture with the aspiration to foster a better understanding of Basque culture and heritage in its diverse aspects by disseminating original works of interest to an English speaking audience and to encourage interaction–learning links–among academics from various learning traditions; e.g., linguistic, philosophical, anthropological, ethnological, historic, literary, artistic, religious, economic, cultural, international relations, etc. The Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza stated that to move forward, one had to look backward, and that is conceptualized by the rowboat image as the rowers make progress while looking behind. This journal hopes to contribute to the shared “rowing” effort among institutions and individuals to mutually support efforts in Basque Studies.
Many familiar names are associated with the journal, including: John Ysursa, William Douglass, Pedro Oiarzabal, Sam Zengotitabengoa, and Joseba Zulaika, among many more.
The inaugural issue is not online yet, but promises to have very interesting perspectives on a number of Basque topics, if the articles that appeared in the Journal of Basque Studies in America is any indication.
I’m personally very excited to see the launch of this new effort. There are a lot of aspects of Basque culture, history, and linguistics that simply are inaccessible to people who do not speak Basque or Spanish. This journal will provide a vehicle for at least some of those ideas and discoveries to reach an English audience.
Late last year, I posted about To Say Goodbye, a film by Izaskun Arandia detailing the evacuation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. Izaskun has interviewed a number of these children, now adults, as part of the documentary. The film is about half way finished and she hopes to premier it at the San Sebastian Film Festival this September.
Izaskun Arandia is an award-winning Scriptwriter, Script-consultant and Producer. With an MA in Screenwriting from the prestigious Bournemouth Screen Academy she has extensive experience and her scripts have been made into short films produced by the BBC amongst others.
She wrote and produced “If I Wish Really Hard” which has recently won Best European Film With Social Content” at the 2011 Eurofilm Festival and she is a full member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Basque Scriptwriters’ Association.
“To Say Goodbye”is a compelling, emotional and dramatic feature-length animated documentary set against the brutal backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.
It blends frank and heartbreaking interviews from the last survivors of one of Europe’s most tragic yet neglected stories with vivid classical and 3D animation to tell the little-known story of the 4,000 Basque children evacuated from the port of Bilbao to England in 1937.
Originally these children were told they were only going away for three months.
But as we approach the 75th Anniversary of the evacuation, some remain in England, forever separated from their families and their homelands and, often, deprived of the chance to ever see their parents again.
It is through interviews with these children, now all in their 80s and 90s, that the story of the evacuation of the Basque children following the bombing of Guernica in 1937 will be told.
We never see these interviewees, it is simply their words that form the story; first-hand memories that remain fresh and emotional as they recall the on-set of the Spanish Civil War, how it affected their lives in the Basque Country, the disappearances of friends and family, the agonising decision made by their parents to send them away, and the despair shown on the quayside in Bilbao as they had to bid farewell to their parents for the final time.
They describe the horrendous boat crossing to England and then life in the camps in the south of England, all the while hoping and expecting to return home to their parents. They reveal how weeks turned into months and then into years and describe how false hopes, deceit and deception ensured 250 of them would never return and never see their parents again, destined to remain in England for the rest of their lives.
And throughout, their stories are illustrated with memorable and striking animation depicting in stylised imagery their emotions, their journey, and their memories, to form an animated feature-length documentary unlike any seen before.
“To Say Goodbye” is a documentary that presents the final opportunity for those who lived through this harrowing and tragic event to tell their story and to to remind us of a period in history that should never be forgotten.
Some big news for the Basque Country’s biggest cities.
First, Donostia has been chosen, along with Wroclaw, Poland, as one of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2016. EiTB has the news here. This means that for the year of 2016, Donostia will host events that highlight Europe’s cultural heritage, presumably from a Basque perspective. Each year, two cities are chosen from two candidate countries, so Donostia beat out other Spanish cities, including Burgos and Cordoba.
Not to be outdone, Bilbao became the first city ever to be chosen as Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, otherwise dubbed the Nobel prize for cities (this was announced in May… guess I’ve been a bit out-of-touch). Again, EiTB has the news. Bilbao was chosen, at least in part, for its efforts to regenerate and renew the city from its industrial past. Specifically, from the Prize’s website, “Bilbao has shown that strong leadership and a commitment to a systematic and long-term plan, based on solid processes and supporting infrastructure, are key factors to the success of a city’s transformation.”
Here is a video highlighting Bilbao.
I first visited Donostia in 1991, when I began a year (well, closer to 10 month) studies abroad in the Gipuzkoan capital. While it seemingly rained the entire first 6 months I was there, I still fell in love with the city, the life style of the Basques, and the Basque people. I spent more than my share of evenings in the Parte Vieja and walked along La Concha to class, which has to be one of the best strolls in the world. I returned some years later with my wife and was amazed at how much had changed. Near the Cathedral, they had expanded the pedestrian-only zone and filled it with outdoor cafes. They had also built the cube, which I understand is a bit of a controversy for such an elegant city. But, they also cleaned up Gros beach, which when I was there was only used by the surfers. Donostia keeps getting more beautiful with time.
During that first visit to the Basque Country, while I spent a lot of time in Bizkaia visiting family, I only made it to Bilbao once or twice, and that was centered on El Corte Ingles more than anything to do some shopping. It wasn’t until a few years later, visiting a friend who took me to the Running of the Bulls, that I got to know the city a bit more. Bilbao is certainly transforming itself, cleaning up the river, building signature architecture, and positioning itself as a true equal of Donostia in terms of a wonderful city to visit. The Siete Calles in the Casco Viejo is simply a great place to wander, to explore the twists and turns, discovering new shops and bars.
I certainly look forward to seeing what these two awards will do for these two cities. And I look forward to many more days of exploring two of the most interesting cities I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, though I might have some small bias.
At the time of its closing, in 2003, Egunkaria was the only daily newspaper published solely in Euskara. It had been in operation for 13 years. In 2003, however, Spanish authorities raided the offices of Egunkaria, confiscating computers and equipment, and arresting many of the leading figures of the newspaper. The charges were association with ETA. Those arrested were Iñaki Uria, Joan Mari Torrealdai, Txema Auzmendi, Xabier Alegria, Pello Zubira, Xabier Oleaga, and Martxelo Otamendi, who was editor of the paper.
In a case that has lasted these 7 years, the five defendants that were still being prosecuted — Iñaki Uria, Juan Mari Torrealdai, Jose Maria Auzmendi, Xabier Oleaga and Martxelo Otamendi — were finally acquitted of any wrong doing. During this time, Martxelo went on to become editor of Berria, currently the only Euskara-only newspaper in the Basque Country. But, the actions by the Spanish authorities did result in the liquidation of Egunkaria’s assets and thus the closure of the newspaper, a result of a set of charges that not once lead to any conviction.
As many of you might already know, the Boise Basque Museum and Cultural Center, with help from the Basque Government, has been working on a project to highlight the Basques’ contributions to the history and settlement of the United States. I’ve received a number of recent messages updating me on the status of the project, which is that the exhibit is now on display at the Boise Basque Museum and will soon move to the Ellis Island National Monument Museum.
Entitled “Hidden in Plain Sight: the Basques“, the exhibit will be at Ellis Island from February to May. It will return to Boise for Jaialdi and will become a feature exhibit at the Basque Museum in Boise. In the words of the website, the exhibit explores the language, customs, traditions and values of the Basque people as well as the allure that America held for them. Hidden in Plain Sight will recount the compelling historical journey of the of Basque men, women and children who immigrated in the early 20th Century from the Basque regions of France and Spain to the United States.
The exhibit aims to both recognize and demonstrate the history of Basques throughout the United States. The Basques have played a large role in many areas, but their actions have often been in the background, hidden if you will. The exhibit hopes to show the greater populace the part the Basques have played in shaping the US.
If you are interested in contributing to the project, there is a form for doing so on the website.
Joe Guerricabeitia originally posted this on the Seattle Euskal Etxea website. I really enjoyed it and, with his permission, repost it here.
America is a nation of democracy. The Founding Fathers designed it so; Alexis de Tocqueville praised it. During the last half century America solidified this democracy such that every American man, woman and child was given the right to affect their lives through an equal right to vote. Still, for a nation which often touts its democratic roots as one if its hallmark characteristics, the idea of direct worker involvement in US corporate affairs is often branded as leftist, socialist and sometimes even categorically painted with the wide, red-brush of McCarthy’s communism.
Here in Washington state, where commercial aeronautics was born under the Boeing banner, some have argued that worker unions and their collective bargaining recently drove the big “B” to establish its second 787 Dreamliner production line in South Carolina, where amongst other things workers are not unionized.
Following an age of corporate outsourcing and off-shore manufacturing plants US workers have looked to the world to find a sustainable model for future US growth and have landed right in our Aitxitxe (grandfather) and Amuma’s (grandmother’s) backyard. The US Steel workers have looked at the example set by the Basques of Mondragon and decided that the very same could be done here, and why not?
As Americans we are a nation of do-it-yourselfers (DIY’ers). We live by, “if you want something done right, do-it-yourself.” We are a proud nation of entrepreneurs, so well known for our creativity and that which is often described as the American Spirit, that every year foreign nationals inundate us with applications for work, and study visas. This spirit, is ingrained in us and has driven the proliferation of big-box DIY chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot. As Americans we swap home and automotive repair tips like baking recipes with our friends.
As Basques we are hard-working, family-centric people. We know our neighbors. In Euskadi and throughout the diaspora we have earned a reputation of ingenuity, pioneering spirit and hard work, all traits that carried us into new worlds either by boat or by plane, wherever there was work and opportunity available. Always with us we brought our traditions, our language and often times our families.
Mondragon’s cooperative work model is simply one of the oldest traditions, repackaged: the baserria. Like the ever-disappearing baserritarra (traditional farmer from a baserria [farmhouse]) could tell you the baserria was and in some cases still is a modern day worker-owned cooperative. Often centralized around families this microcosm of sustainability, traditionally revolved around farming and ranching but newer generations have hybridized this tradition by allowing the older generations to continue to farm and ranch as their forefathers had done, while the youth have pursued greater educational opportunities and a chance to join Euskal Herria’s burgeoning manufacturing and business sectors.
The “baserriak” cooperative model is not “new” to the US, only new to US workers. The cooperative model has always been with Basques even in the diaspora in the form our Euskal Etxeak or Basque Centers, where the economy of currency has been swapped for heritage and tradition, sport and dance, language and culinary delights.
To our American brothers and sisters we say, “Ongi etorri!” or Welcome! May the cooperative model work as well in for Americans as it has done for so long with the Basques.
Garaipena, neke askoren ondorena “Success is the result of a lot of hard work.”
About 6 years ago, Egunkaria, then the only daily newspaper published fully in Basque, was shut down on suspicions of ties to terrorists. Between then and now, no trials had occurred and it was thought that essentially the matter had been dropped. However, now, 6 years later, those who worked at Egunkaria are indeed being tried, including Martxelo Otamendi, the editor of the newspaper.
EgunkariaLibre is a site that has two purposes: to support those being put on trial as well as disseminate news about the happenings surrounding Egunkaria, it’s shut down, and the people who worked there.
These events have reached even those Basques living in the United States. This article in the Idaho Statesman describes how Otamendi previously visited the US to report on, other things, the Idaho legislature’s non-binding memorial supporting the Basque Country’s right for self-determination. He stayed with Dave Bieter, now the mayor of Boise.
This was the second such newspaper shut down by Spain. Before, Egin was also shut down. As was said by Paddy Woodworth in that article, author of The Basque Country: A Cultural History:
“I believe that if there are serious charges against a medium of communication, sufficient to justify the precautionary measure of closing it down, they should be heard within weeks, not years,” he said. “Otherwise the state is very open to charges of suppressing press freedom.”
This morning (11AM Bilbao time), ETA set off a car bomb at the headquarters of EiTB, the Basque radio/television company. It appears that no one was hurt, as there was a warning. More information can be found on EiTB’s website.
I can’t understand what would motive such an attack. EiTB is one of the most important institutions for the promotion of Euskara and, while they maybe could do some things better, they are also crucial for the survival of Euskara. I just don’t understand.
My thoughts are with those of EiTB. I hope that this does not deter any of them from their important work.