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History III: Silver Anniversary
by William A. Douglass
From The Basque Studies Program Newsletter, No. 45, April 1992

The Basque Studies Program is twenty five! In terms of the arithmetic of this quincentennial year we have existed for one-twentieth of the period since the discovery of the New World. Such benchmarks invite contemplation and the taking of stock. In the May 1983 issue of this newsletter, I presented an overview of the Program’s first fifteen years of history. In November of 1987, I updated the account. It would therefore seem appropriate at this time to review the past five years.

The Library Collection - The growth in our Basque library continues to accelerate. With 2% of UNR’s total library budget, the collection is adding approximately 1,500 titles to its holdings annually. We now have over 30,000 volumes, several hundred journals and thousands of photographs, videos, films, tapes, musical recordings, manuscripts, etc.

In 1988 our first librarian, María Boisvert, moved to New York where her husband was enrolled in graduate school. We were fortunate to acquire the services of Ellen Brow who came to us from Harvard University where she was the Latin American and southern European bibliographer.

At this juncture the library collection faces four major challenges. First, there is a considerable backlog of uncataloged material which is growing due to our expanding volume of new acquisitions. Second, we, like the rest of the library world, are in the midst of computerization. Third, we are out of shelf space and are now culling the collection in order to warehouse its more esoteric items. Fourth, the library is under-staffed and we are dependent upon volunteerism and ad hoc arrangements.

Growth pains are a part of a natural process, but they still hurt! We are pursuing several long-term strategies that may help alleviate the problems. We have submitted a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a major grant that would catalogue ten thousand books. We continue to make our case in the strongest possible terms within the budgetary process of the university. However, these are difficult times characterized by scarce resources.

Publications - The Basque Book Series of the University of Nevada Press has expanded considerably over the past five years from fifteen titles in print in 1987 to its current list of twenty-four. Thus, if for the first twenty years of our existence the Series averaged less than one book per year, the production currently stands at about two titles annually. The Occasional Papers Series released two new titles during the period as well. Between the two series there are approximately ten titles in press at present. This newsletter continues to be published twice annually and is currently sent to 8,600 subscribers.

Staff - During the past five years Jill Berner became our office manager and Joan Brick was hired as Program secretary. Gorka Aulestia resigned his position to return to the Basque Country. Linda White was made assistant coordinator. Anthropologist Joseba Zulaika joined the professional staff and Jose Mallea has been conducting postdoctoral research for the past two years with grant scholarship.

Visiting Scholars - In March of 1988 Basque President José Antonio Ardanza Garro and a delegation visited the United States. They came to Nevada and signed cultural exchange agreements with Governor Richard H. Bryan and University of Nevada System Chancellor Mark H. Dawson. Under the terms of the latter, the Basque Government agreed to fund two scholarships for American students to study in the Basque Country, two scholarships for Basque students to study at UNR and a visiting professorship permitting a Basque professor to spend a year in residence with the Basque Studies Program. This support enhanced considerably the existing exchange of faculty and students between the University of Nevada, Reno and various academic institutions in the Basque Country. To date the visiting professors include Mila Alvarez Urcelay (University of the Basque Country-San Sebastián), María Elisa Zorriqueta (University of the Basque Country-Lejona) and Demetrio Loperena (University of the Basque Country-San Sebastián).

The scholars who have come to Reno for brief stays of a few days are far too numerous to mention individually. Those who spent significant periods in residence with the program include Román Basurto (University of the Basque Country-Lejona), Gurutz Jáuregui Bereciartu (University of the Basque Country-San Sebastián), Kepa Fernández de Larrinoa (Western Ontario University), Josu Rekalde Izaguirre (University of the Basque Country-Lejona), María Asunción Cenoz Iragui (Xabier Zubiri School-San Sebastián), Angel Ansa Goenaga (Escuela Universitaria de Magisterio-San Sebastián), María José Azurmendi (University of the Basque Country-San Sebastián), Benjamin Tejerina (University of the Basque Country-Lejona), Cynthia Irvin (Duke University), Eusebio Osa (University of the Basque Country-Vitoria), Jaione Lanborena (Eusko-Bibliographía), John Tuthill (Georgia Southern University), Iñaki Insausti (Basque artist) and Daniele Conversi (London School of Economics).

Instruction - Basque Studies Program faculty continue to offer courses here at UNR through the Departments of Anthropology, Foreign Languages and History, and Linda White provides a two-year Basque language sequence. For the past five years we have offered a week-long seminar on Basque culture as part of the Elderhostel program. We were pleased when Jose Mallea received his doctorate through the Basque Tutorial Ph.D. program and deeply saddened when Rodolfo Luera, another of its students, was killed tragically in a traffic accident.

Study Abroad - During the past five years the activity of the University Studies in the Basque Country Consortium, directed by Carmelo Urza, expanded dramatically. The University of Iowa, the University of Idaho-Moscow, Wright State University (Ohio) and Deakin University (Australia), all joined the Consortium. A new summer program was initiated at St. Jean de Luz in the Basque Country and semester and year-long ones were begun at the University of Turin in Italy, Deakin University in Australia and the International University SEK in Santiago de Chile.

Given the expanded scope of the Consortium, its name was changed to the University Studies Abroad Consortium. It was also formally institutionalized during the past year as a regular activity of the University of Nevada, Reno. The magnitude of the effort may be appreciated from the statistics for the current year. Its budget has surpassed one million dollars and under its auspices 220 American students will have studied abroad and 100 foreign students have enrolled in its courses as well. About eighty percent of this activity remains focused upon the Basque Country.

Research - Recently, one of the major research goals of the Basque Studies Program was realized with completion and publication of the Basque/English, English/Basque dictionary. Similarly, the results of the field research by William Douglass among Basque sugar canecutters in Australia were prepared for publication and are currently in press. Jose Mallea initiated important research regarding aspen tree carvings left by Basque sheepherders throughout the American West. The work is still in progress but has already produced publications and documentary film. Joseba Zulaika is currently preparing a book on terrorism based on his previous research as a Guggenheim fellow. In short, Program staff continue to frame and conduct original research regarding Old World Basque culture and the Basque emigrant diaspora worldwide.

This five-year update of the twenty-five-year history of the Basque Studies Program on the occasion of its silver anniversary suggests that we have matured without sacrificing any of our dynamism. I feel particularly privileged to have been named as coordinator in 1967 and entrusted with both the opportunity and responsibility of implementing the concept. I do not, however, have any particular claim to proprietorship. Through the efforts of literally thousands of persons over the past quarter of a century the Program has practically fashioned itself. I thank and salute all of you. Eskerrikasko!


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