Thursday, July 16, 2009

Integrating Through Own Identity

Here you have a note published at Basqueresearch:

Basqueness is an element of social integration for the Basque communities in the United States

A PhD thesis undertaken at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) involved the ethnographic study of young dancers belonging to the Zazpiak Bat Basque Club based at Reno (Nevada, USA). Using this case, how the dances and activities of the Basque communities intervene in the process of multicultural socialization in the United States, was studied.

The PhD thesis aimed to show the subjectivity of persons making up the Basque community in the United States, to which end a study was undertaken of how the dances and activities of these Basque communities in that country intervene in the process of multicultural socialization in that North American country.

The author of the thesis is Ms Clara Urdangarin Liebaert and has entitled her work Dancing the Jauzi under the stars and stripes: an ethnographic study of the Zazpiak Bat Group of Dancers from Reno, Nevada. In order to carry out this research she stayed at Reno from February 2003 to January 2004.

Through the rehearsals and performances and so on of the Basque folk dantzaris from Reno, the researcher was able to see how a code of communication adjusted to the social context in the United States was internalized. Thus, Basqueness is an element of social integration in this multicultural society.

Internal and external logic

The author analyzed the relationship between the internal logic of the Basque dances and the external logic of the dancer. Each one of these logics is divided into four sections, each as a function of the relation of the subject to space, to time, to the other actors and to objects.

The socialization of United States Basques as demonstrated in this work is within a social context characterized by a multiracial society which strives to marry the different origins of its inhabitants with the social cohesion of the country. To a certain extent, the features distinguishing Basques from other ethnic groups in the United States have the features of multiculturality: a United States citizen linked to an immigrant origin, identified with customs and a desire for brotherhood with other groups.

The results show the characteristics of the internal logic of Basque dancing and the social framework in which it happens. The Basque dance in the United States presents a citizen who associates with other Basque citizens to form a group and thus build their identity within the framework of North American minorities. In this way, the Basque fiestas construct a Basque who presents himself or herself to the multicultural community with pride. The Basques dance in order to exist in the multiethnic mosaic that is the United States.

Material culture

Material culture —culture associated with objects— shows a United States person who uses objects of consumption linked to his or her own identity. In the same way, Basque activities underpin their identity —peaked caps embroidered with brotherhood motifs, balloons and banners in white, red and green and car license plates with the inscription proud to be Basque—.

Also, the liking for uniforms is quite clear with the clothing of the dantzaris and other who actively participate in the fiesta. According to the researcher, these objects link the citizen to the group they belong to and, in this case, the Basque with his or her ethnic community.

Information about the author

Ms Clara Urdangarin Liebaert (London, 1960) is qualified as a psychiatric nurse and a graduate in Physical and Sports Education. She undertook her PhD thesis under the direction of Mr Joseba Etxebeste Otegi from the Department of Physical Education at the Faculty of Physical Sports Activities Sciences (UPV/EHU), and spent time at the Center of Basque Studies at the University of Reno (Nevada). She is currently working as a lecturer in the Department where she carried out her PhD.

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