The Department of Romance and Classical Studies is pleased to celebrate Dr. Joseba Gabilondo’s new Basque translation of his book Before Babel: A History of Basque Literatures.
Dr. Gabilondo presented, at the 2020 Basque book fair of Durango (Spain, the largest fair for this language), the Basque translation of the book. To this day, it is the only postnational history published in Spanish/Iberian studies, which overcomes the one language-one nation paradigm. Rather than focusing on literature written in Basque, this book studies the literatures, in plural, written by Basques in all their languages (Basque, Spanish, French, English, Latin, etc.). In this way, the different conflicts between different Basque classes and groups, expressed in different languages, come to the fore so that the effect of Spanish and French imperialisms and nationalism are also centrally studied.
Similarly, the book incorporates the different representations and identities given by outsiders to the Basques (“the oldest people of Europe, the oldest language of Europe….”) and the way Basques have negotiated and appropriated these identities. Consequently, the book incorporates discourses from areas that are not traditionally considered literature: religion, linguistics, anthropology, tourism, etc. The non-specialist will recognize names that are not usually associated with Basque literature, such as St Ignatius of Loyola, the conquistador Lope de Aguirre, or the “lieutenant nun” Catalina de Erauso, or the first European traveler to the East (before Marco Polo), Benjamin of Tudela. Before Babel, is also the only history to engage with subaltern and Atlantic studies simultaneously, while also incorporating a new historization based on imperialism, nationalism, and globalization. In this sense, this book is on the cutting edge of literary histories.
Dr. Gabilondo is an associate professor in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, whose research interests include Basque and Spanish nationalisms, Atlantic studies, intellectual discourse, postnationalism, masculinity, feminism, queer theory, globalization, and Hispanic and Hollywood cinema. He has previously published several articles on these topics and has written multiple books. A full account of his academic achievements can be found on his faculty page.