The Koldo Mitxelena chair has been inaugurated at the University of Chicago
“Koldo Mitxelena never came to the US. Nevertheless, he is now established, on his own merits, in this prestigious university,” said the Basque Government’s Minister of Culture Blanca Urgell at the University of Chicago during the inauguration of the chair that is named in honor of the great Basque linguist. Supported by the Etxepare Basque Institute, the aim of the chair is to promote Basque studies in US universities. The inauguration events will conclude this weekend, with a spot dedicated to Basque cinema in Chicago’s Latin Film Festival.
Chicago, IL. Last Tuesday, April 10, The University of Chicago and the Etxepare Basque Institute inaugurated the Koldo Mitxelena chair dedicated to Basque studies and named in honor of the Basque linguist of the same name. The official event was attended by the Basque Government’s Minister of Culture, Blanca Urgell, and Mari Jose Olaziregi, Director of the Promotion of the Basque Language of the Etxepare Basque Institute. Joining them were professors, artists and Basque writers who also participated in the events.
One of these was Lourdes Oñederra, full professor of Phonology at the University of the Basque Country who will be the first incumbent of this chair. “Oñederra is not only a member of Euskaltzaindia, but Koldo Mitxelena himself supervised her dissertation on Basque phonology,” explained Mari Jose Olaziregi during her presentation. Each year the chair will be occupied by a renowned Basque professor who will give classes during the semester.
Minister of Culture, Blanca Urgell, highlighted the great contribution that Mitxelena made to Basque culture: “The inauguration of this chair is ultimate tribute that has been paid to this Euskaltzale, linguist, and thinker that converted Basque studies into a set of professional disciplines and to whom the Basques keep trying to repay a bit of what they owe him.”
[In the front row, Minister of Culture Blanca Urgell, Mari Jose Olaziregi and Ignacio Olmos (Cervantes Institute Chicago), along with professors, Basque writers and artists present at the inauguration]
Art, Literature and Film
Besides the official inauguration, there have been other cultural events held this week in Chicago. On Tuesday, an exhibit by artist Erlea Maneros was inaugurated in the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts of the University of Chicago. “Logan Center is the tallest building on campus and was created to celebrate art and culture from around the world, "said Bill Michel, director of the Center. “We are delighted to have the work of Erlea Maneros and the art of this Bilbao native closer to the people of Chicago.”
Additionally, the writers Arantxa Urretabizkaia and Eider Rodriguez participated in a roundtable on “The Crisis and Basque Creation.” On Wednesday both of them went to the University of Illinois, where they debated on “Basque Fiction: Utopias and Challenges.”
Events surrounding the inauguration of the Koldo Mitxelena Chair will continue through the week with a special spot reserved for Basque film at the Chicago Latin “Film Festival. The movie Yoyes by Helena Taberna and the documentary Bertsolari by Asier Altuna will be shown tomorrow and the next day. This will take place at the Cervantes Institute in Chicago with both filmmakers presenting their works in person. The Etxepare Basque Institute’s director, Aizpea Goenaga, will also be in Chicago to participate in the final stretch of the opening program.
From left to right: Amaia Gabantxo (Chicago's Basque lecturer), Mari Jose Olaziregi (Etxepare Institute) and Arantxa Urretabizkaia and Eider Rodriguez writers