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The Living Memory Conference at the University of Deusto was the meeting point for returnees from the Diaspora


Organizers and conference presenters (photo Belén Ibarrola/Universidad de Deusto)
Organizers and conference presenters (photo Belén Ibarrola/Universidad de Deusto)


The University of Deusto hosted a conference on Emigration and Return on October 19, entitled “Living Memory,” advocating the role and contributions of members of the Diaspora who have returned to the Basque Country. The event was organized as part of the collaboration of the University in Bizkailab and was attended by returned emigrants (first and second generation) historians, and institutional representatives like the Provincial Government of Bizkaia and the Directorate of Relations with Basque Citizens and Collectivities Abroad. According to its organizers the conference is the first step towards the goal of creating “A Virtual Interpretation Center for Bizkaian Emigration.”

Bilbao, Bizkaia.  On October 19, The University of Deusto reserved a special place for emigrants and their descendants who have returned to the Basque Country as part of a conference organized by the Institute of Basque Studies, the Pedro Arrupe Institute for Human Rights, with the collaboration of the Provincial Government of Bizkaia, through the Bizkailab Program.  As part of this program, a group of historians, led by Pedro J. Oiarzabal and Nerea Mujika, are carrying out research on return migration to Bizkaia.

The meeting gave voice to the returnees themselves, speaking from personal experience and the various associations that have been created in the Basque Country during a panel discussion moderated by Joseba Etxarri, Director of Participants were Veronica Domingo (Argentina), Laura Igantzi (USA), Izar Errandonea (Uruguay) and Irantzu Leunda (Venezuela). Meanwhile, researcher and Diaspora expert Pedro J. Oiarzabal presented some of the results of the study on return migration to Bizkaia.

Meeting Point

The organizers of the event were very satisfied with the results.  “The day was itself a success simply by the fact that is was organized,” said historian Pedro Oiarzabal told  “I think most people were very satisfied with the event that led to the meeting: between returnees and at personal level associations, including the academic world (in this case the University of Deusto) and public institutions such as the Provincial Bizkaia and the Directorate of Citizens Basque Citizens and Collectivities of the Basque Government.”

Deusto Jornada Retorno 2012

[The audience was mainly composed of returnees and historians who followed the talks very closely (photo Belén Ibarrola/Deustuko Unibertsitatea)]

Even though the event has been a successful first step, the ultimate goal is much broader, according to Oiarzabal. "Our goal, from the Institute of Basque Studies and Deusto’s Institute of Human Rights, is the creation of a virtual emigration center of Bizkaia, which can include and disclose these pages in Bizkaia’s history that have been written outside the territory, as well as others written by people who have returned," the historian added.

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