On October 2, they published a fantastic article about a key figure in Basque culture in the US and the world, including the Basque Country itself: William A. Douglass.
As the article by Nancy Zubiri says, he may not be Basque, but it could be said that he’s done more than any other person in the United States to promote the study and understanding of a people that has left and indelible mark on the American West. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books and a great many articles on the Basques, and was also the founder and long-time director of the University of Nevada, Reno Center for Basque Studies, which we’ve cited on many occasions. The center is named for him.
In 1967, a young William A. Douglass was studying anthropology in the Basque Country when Basque-American author Robert Laxalt (we’ve talked a lot about him, as well) asked him to help found a Basque Studies program. This means that for over fifty years, his academic, and personal, life has been intimately linked to the Basques in the US and the world.
That same year that Laxalt proposed the idea of started a Basque studies center that is now a thriving reality, Douglass was in the Basque Country researching and gathering information for what would become his first book: “Death in Murelaga: Funerary ritual in a Spanish Basque village”. This book was hugely important, as stated on Euskal Kazeta:
“This book, written during the time of the dictatorship of Spanish general Francisco Franco, had a huge influence on a generation of Basques who would later become important writers, such as Joseba Sarrionandia, Mariasun Landa, and Bernardo Atxaga. ‘They were surprised a non-Basque would come to a rural town in the Basque Country and write about them,’ explained Douglass. ‘They were under a lot of pressure to write in Spanish.'”
Though Douglass himself believed that his most relevant publication is “Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World” (1976), which he co-wrote with professor and researcher Jon Bilbao. This essential book on Basque immigration to the Americas inspired a whole generation of new research projects on Basque subjects in the US and throughout the world.
We Basques who this researcher a great deal, and we’re honestly at a loss as whether to place him into that select group of “best friends of the Basques” or just directly place him into that group of our compatriots (though if it were just us deciding, we’d put him in the latter). That’s why we wanted to thank Euskal Kazeta for publishing this article to help us understand the enormous breadth of the work this person has done in defense of Basque culture, which is the same as saying, “in defense of the cause of the Basque people”.
We’ll leave you with Nancy Zubiri’s article, the video on William A. Douglass that the University of Nevada has prepared, and an article Nevada Today published in 2015 to pay homage to William A. Douglass and Jon Bilbao for their contributions to the preservation and spreading of Basque culture.
Euskal Kazeta – 2/10/2020 – USA
Mr. Basque: A Look Back at William Douglass’ years studying the culture
He’s known as “Mr. Basque,” a scholar who has dedicated a lifetime to researching and promoting Basque people and their unique culture. William A. Douglass may not be Basque, but he has arguably done more than any single person in the United States to promote the study and understanding of a people who have left an indelible cultural mark across the West. He’s the author or editor of more than a dozen books and many more articles on the Basques, as well as a founder and long-time director of the Center for Basque Studies at University of Nevada Reno
Nevada Today – 3/11/2015 – USA
High honor for contributors to 40 years of Basque publishing, preserving culture and history
William A. (Bill) Douglass and the late Jon Bilbao collaborated on many projects together, including co-founding the University of Nevada, Reno’s Basque Studies Program, which is now the Center for Basque Studies. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, their contributions to the Center and to the Basque community were recognized during a special ceremony. The University announced the renaming of the Center as the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies, and the naming of the library, the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.