Drawing on folksongs written since the 16th century, I show women and girls in Basque song exhibit more agency and a wider variety of emotional stances than the secondary, “traditional” roles usually ascribed them. They negotiate potential mates; drink instead of work; and seek the pleasure of men other than their husbands. While the meanings of these songs are multi-vocal and sometimes difficult to discern, I argue that deliberation over these songs’ meanings enriches our understanding of Basque culture and the role of song in producing and contesting it.

About the Author

The daughter of Basque immigrants to California, she is a native Basque speaker with a PhD in Sociology. Apart from her regular duties as a tenured professor at the University of California, Riverside, she has published over a dozen academic articles on Basque culture, language, and identity. Her latest novel, The Hammer of Witches, was recently published by the Center for Basque Studies. It is available online on Amazon and basquebooks.myshopify.com/products/the-hammer-of-witches-a-historical-novel. She has also written, recorded and performed songs in Basque in the United States and abroad with the trio, NOKA: www.chinoka.com. In her spare time, she likes to make rock sculptures.

  • B.A. Human Biology 1988, Stanford University
  • M.A. Sociology 1996, University of California, San Diego
  • Ph.D. Sociology 2000, University of California, San Diego