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Basque Studies Organizes and Hosts the 2nd International Conference on Cultural Studies: Translation: Wor(l)ds in Other Wor(l)ds

People stand around a Basque studies banner with an image of Eloise Garmendia Bieter
Musician Joxan Goikoetxea, professor Nere Lete, Dr. Igor Leturia, Dr. Larraitz Ariznabarreta, musician Olatz Prat, Dr. Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain.

Faculty from the Basque Studies program, Nere Lete and Ziortza Gandarias Beldarrain in collaboration with the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno organized and hosted the 2nd International Conference on Cultural Studies at Boise State University from September 14th to 16th. The aim of the conference was to create a dialogue between translation studies and other areas of cultural studies. National and international scholars from different fields of translational research meet at Boise State to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and new paradigms that the field offers. 

The conference began September 14th paying special tribute to professor and translator Nere Lete for her contributions to Basque literary translation and over thirty years of dedication to teaching the Basque language. Professor Lete presented “A Home with Two Balconies” where she shared her personal journey becoming who she is nowadays. Her warm and touching presentation was accompanied by a visual presentation of a female silhouette being the metaphor of the many “tattoos” herself experienced through her life. Professor Lete stated that translation for her is “an act of love.”That sentence still resonates in everyone’s heart. Many of us were very deeply moved by how she intertwined the historical events of the Basque Country that molded her family, starting from her  grandparents that suffered the war, her youth under the dictatorship and her life in the US as a translator and professor. After Prof.Lete’s genuine presentation the evening was enlivened by the Basque musicians Joxan Goigoetxea and Olatz Prat. Their recital “Biziak bizi nau/Gracias a la vida/Thanks to Life” was an ode to Basque music and art.  

On Friday, September 15th, the topic discussed by the presenters was “Crisscrossing Cultures”. Scholars from different institutions and countries shared their research and explained the challenges that small languages have to face in the global scene of translation. Basque writers that represent the new Basque Canon, also participated in the conference. The renowned Uxue Alberdi, Kirmen Uribe, Eider Rodriguez, Harkaitz Cano, and Maialen Berasategi read fragments of some of their most influential works. Later in the evening the keynote speaker. Dr. Igor Leturia, engineer and expert in language technology, who works for the Elhuyar Foundation,  shared his research with the audience. Dr. Leturia was also the Visiting Scholar for the Eloise Garmendia Bieter Basque Studies Chair at Boise State University for 2023. After Dr. Leturia’s presentation the Basque musicians offered the concert “Shakespeare in Basque”. They performed Shakespeare sonnets in Basque. This concert had a very deep meaning in the conference. In fact,  during the time that the Basque language was censored and condemned to disappear. Basque intellectuals in exile translated Shakespeare into Basque as a response to the linguistic mistreatment that the Basque was suffering. The translation of canonical authors and works into Basque was a cultural resistance and a tool to revitalize the Basque language. The concert symbolized the importance of translation for minority languages and the power of every language no matter its size. 

The last day of the conference, September 16th, the main focus of the conference was “Teaching Translation.” This panel was very diverse and oriented to the practical use of translation in language teaching, learning, and class belonging. Professors from German Studies, ASL, Engineering, and Creative Writing brough new perspectives and context for using translation as a teaching tool in class. It was a very enriching experience for the audience. The conference ended with a dinner at the Euzkaldunak Basque Center. The presenters and organizers shared a wonderful experience enjoying Basque gastronomy and culture.