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Facebook Stories debuts with an article on the Basque Diaspora and its use of social networks


An image of a young group of Basques in Brooklyn that leads Pedro Oiarzabal's article on Facebook Stories (photo
An image of a young group of Basques in Brooklyn that leads Pedro Oiarzabal's article on Facebook Stories (photo


The giant online community, Facebook, with 900 million active users a month, has chosen the Basque Diaspora as one of its star themes in its newest initiative “Facebook Stories.” Chosen, yes, because the company contacted historian, Pedro J. Oiarzabal, from the University of Deusto, to see if he could provide them with an article on the influence of social networks on the communication of Basques around the world. Oiarzabal, has been researching the Diaspora’s presence on the web for years, emphasizing Facebook’s interest in the subject. The article was published on Monday in English but “it will be appear in Basque in the next couple of days. Something that came from them,” says Oiarzabal.

Bilbao, Bizkaia.  Dionisio Choperena, the Basque sheepherder who became a media star in the US thanks to a cell phone commercial; Blas Uberuaga, creator in 1994, of the first Basque website; Henar Chico, Bizkaian blogger residing in Boise, Idaho; Jose Antonio Alcayaga III, member of the New York Basque club and creator of the Alcayagas group with more than 1,500 members…are some of the subjects of the article about the Basque Diaspora that inaugurated “Facebook Stories.” In the article, historian Pedro J. Oiarzabal condensed years of research and tracking the activity of the Basques around the world in regards to new technologies and social networks. 

Just like the commercial with Choperena using a cell phone to contact his friends and family around the world while tending his flock, Oiarzabal analyses in the article how social networks now serve as a bridge between Basques around the world, allowing them to interact, share information and maintain their culture.

Facebook visit

Oiarzabal, was contacted by Jeffrey Gerson, “Facebook Stories” editorial producer, and was surprised by the company’s interest in the Basques.  “This summer, when I was in the US, I took advantage of the visit to go to the Facebook Headquarters in California, and I was surprised by their interest in this story, in the Basque Diaspora, “he says.  The historian clarifies that “since the beginning they made it clear that they didn’t want marketing, but were only interested in the impact of Facebook on the Basque Diaspora community.”

“Facebook has millions of daily users and among them are many Diasporas and many experts on them, so it is very interesting that they chose the Basques,” Oiarzabal added.  Surely, it has something to do with the years of work that he has done in this field and his becoming one more online Basque community.  In 2010, he published Diasporas in the New Media Age (University of Nevada Press).   Recently he wrote, along with Ulf-Dietrick Reips, a study on emigration, social networks and the Diasporas in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Soon in Basque

Oiarzabal thinks that Facebook is “like a magnifying glass” that magnifies everything and stresses “the importance of the Basque culture being there.”  Thanks to social networks “something very global can become global,” he says.

The Basques may be a drop in the ocean of social network users, but their presence and that of Euskera has been noticed.  “It is very interesting to see the relationship underlying this super company with minority languages and cultures.  It was them who suggested publishing the article in Basque, even though doing so has no commercial impact for them,” the historian says.



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