This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Our regular readers will already know that between June 29 and July 10, the heart of the American capital, the National Mall in Washington, was the home of the 2016 Folklife Festival, organized by the Smithsonian Institution since 1967, and whose guest culture of honor was the Basque one.
While the festival was being prepared, the Festival’s blog was collecting tons of details about the events, big and small, which were happening during the 10-day festival. It’s definitely worth it to see the images and stories of this “invasion of Basque culture”.
We were picking up on the news items we found most interesting from around the world (especially from the US) discussing the Basque presence at this event. We’ve included them all in our scoop.it service, under the tag “Folklife Festival 2016”. We’ve included it in our “diaspora” section, as an homage to the Basque in America, who, with such great effort, have made this event the best possible.
The presence of Basque-Americans at the cultural events of the Folklife Festival created a lot of interest, as one would expect, in the media of the cities where there are Basque Centers which sent delegations, especially dantzaris, to whom the Festival blog has dedicated an entry. We’ve marked them with the tag diaspora folklife festival 2016.
The Associated Press (AP) dedicated a “Big Story” to this festival with the title “Folklife Festival celebrates resilient communities”. It’s not the first time Basques are the protagonists of one of this agency’s big stories: we’ve collected a few others. We were surprised by how short the AP article was, though; even so, it’s had a big impact in the American media–we just wish the AP article had been a bit more thorough and had included an image. We’ve been collecting a lot of these articles, but if anyone’s curious about just how much media impact this has had, check out Google! We’re including this link because it’s a gateway to news from “further afield”.
“Good Morning America”, a morning show on ABC, was at the beginning of the festival: here’s what they had to say:
ABC – 30/6/2016 – USA
In Washington, a Place to Live the Traditions of Basque Country
ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos
A few blogs have also dedicated space to talking about the Basque presence at this festival, which is something else that’s grabbed our attention. The power of these blogs and of social networks in the US is huge, and they’ve been great allies in spreading the news about this even. It’s especially interesting to see how far their comments have reached, and the conclusions they share, especially one from the Bear Beitel blog, written by an American Spanish-language teacher. His conclusions about the poor quality of the representation of Basque cuisine at the festival is undoubtedly worrying; unfortunately, being at an event like this is something that cannot be easily recreated. You can read his article below.
The Spanish embassy in the US has followed this story with certain interest via Twitter. They’ve focused on and highlighted the presence of Spain’s Basque Country at the event, even using the hashtag #spainsbasquecountry, or with messages like this:
The National Mall is transformed into #Spain‘s Basque Country thanks to @SmithsonianFolk! #Folklife2016pic.twitter.com/iXRNSVyIU7
— Embassy of Spain US (@SpainInTheUSA) 7 de julio de 2016
It seems they haven’t well understood the Smithsonian Institution’s goal at the 2016 Folklife Festival of celebrating Basque culture in its widest sense, not just the part within a certain administration or within certain national boundaries, just as the graphic at the top of the event’s website shows.
And despite the fact that there was a very indicative sign of what the Folklife Festival organizers understood as Basque Lands:
Hello, #Smithsonian #Folklife2016! pic.twitter.com/vqNjn00qT6
— Maggie Turqman (@Maggie_lib) 1 de julio de 2016
Perhpas the embassy or the ambassador was not aware of all the descendents of Basques from, for example, California, who come from north of the Pyrenees, a very Basque and decidedly not Spanish territory. This is a problem we’ve encountered on many occasions, such as was the case with the problems of the definition of the origin of Kalakan that the EFE director had when writing about the Basque group when it collaborated with Madonna.
Compilation of the main news we’ve found:
Bear Beitel – 9/7/2016 – USA
Basque Culture on the Mall-Smithsonian Folklife Faux Pas
A month after returning home from La Rioja, Spain, in the North of Spain, I was thrilled to find that the Smithsonian was centering their annual folk life festival on Basque culture. The Basques are hearty, mountainous and sea-faring folk of northeast Spain and southwest France.
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New Delhi Times – 4/7/2016 – India
Folklife Festival celebrates resilient communities
Basque culture and California music are being celebrated this year at the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival. The free festival on the National Mall runs through Monday, July 4, and again July 7-10. This year’s festival celebrates resilient communities around the world with two programs: “Basque: Innovation by Culture” and “Sounds of California.” There are performances and demonstrations every day and concerts in the evenings.
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Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country