BOGA: Basque Studies Consortium Journal is a journal run by the Basque Studies program at Boise State University. It’s a open-access multidisciplinary academic journal dedicated to the academic study of all aspects of Basque culture.
It got started in the 1970s at the Society of Basque Studies in America, a non-profit organization founded in San Francisco in 1979, “dedicated to the study and sharing of Basque culture, traditions, customs, and folklore in the Americas”. In 2011, responsibility for the journal was transferred to Boise State.
Here you can find more about the history of this organization, deeply rooted in the efforts of the US Basque Community to keeping its heritage alive and sharing it in academic fields.
We’re sharing all of this because in their October 2019 issue, a very interesting scientific article can be found by Kerri Lesh, doctor and professor in anthropology. Born in Kansas, she shares that among her hobbies and interests are many things that are more than a little “Basque”: linguistic anthropology, European studies, anthropology, the Basque Country, commercialization of wine, cuisine and wine tourism, gastronomy, the Alavan Rioja region, and cultural anthropology. Just a quick glance at her website will shed all the light needed on how passionate this Kansan, proud of her roots, is with the ancient Basque people.
The article is focused on the values that can be found behind Basque cuisine, analyzed from the perspective of the typographical font and semiotics. The article highlights the importance of the culture that may (or may not) be found behind the products out on the market, and how necessary it is to define and underscore that value, when it exists.
It’s quite interesting to read this article in these times when our culinary culture has reached a wider worldwide audience than ever before, placing our country in the Olympus of world gastronomic cultures. Our “brand value” is only going up (you just have to take a glance at all the articles we’ve been sharing). It’s gotten so far that the Basque Culinary World Prize, organized by the Basque Government and the Basque Culinary Center has, in just a few short years, become a global role model; we’ve even come so far that some initiatives have defined our country as The Culinary Nation.
And it’s no less interesting to be reading it as we are currently in the middle of the crisis regarding the Rioja Denominación de Origen, whose leaders are determined to maintain a reach of their products that is contrary to showing off the unique culture that creates that differentiation of product that can only be provided by the small producers in the Alavan Rioja region. There are those (who deny any right to clear differentiation to Basque producers) who are trying to turn this corporate controversy (and the survival of many wineries) into a political matter which, if not intelligently redirected, is going to end up causing a schism that will cause many Basque producers, much to their dismay, to abandon this denominación de origen, which they themselves helped create, given that they are not allowed to explain to their consumers, with clear labels on the bottles, what makes their wines more special, and therefore more expensive, than others with the same denominación.
And that evaluation of the individual product through the fonts and symbolism included on the labels is what is brought up in this interesting article which, we admit, we also chose due to its close connection with the current dispute in the wine country of the Rioja region.
In any case, take a look at the BOGA articles: there’s plenty for every Basque culture lover to discover and relish.
BOGA – 10/2019 – USA
Size Matters: The Values Behind Basque Food, Font and Semiotics
“People look for the origin of the wine they consume, they want to link it to the terroir … they are looking for something more than just the quality of the product, but rather the story behind the wine, the histories that lie behind a glass, and being able to focus in on a particular bodega, on the places where it is cultivated and produced. Because of that, it is important to identify those spaces and give them their due value.” (author’s translation) (Muñoz, 2017).