Julio Caro Baroja

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Julio Caro Baroja
Born (1914-11-13)November 13, 1914
Died August 18, 1995(1995-08-18) (aged 80)
Vera de Bidasoa
Nationality Spanish
Occupation Anthropologist, historian and author
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Caro and the second or maternal family name is Baroja.

Julio Caro Baroja (1914–1995) was a world-renowned Basque Spanish anthropologist, historian, linguist and essayist. He was known for his special interest in Basque culture, history and society. Of Basque ancestry, he was the nephew of the renowned writer Pio Baroja; and his brother, painter, writer and engraver Ricardo Baroja. He is buried at the family's home, Itzea, in Bera (Navarre).


Julio was the eldest son of the editor Rafael Caro Raggio who founded the publishing house Editorial Caro Raggio Madrid in 1917.[1] His mother was Carmen Baroja, a Spanish writer and ethnologist who wrote under the pseudonym Vera Alzate.[2]

As a child he moved to the Navarrese town of Vera de Bidasoa where he spent much time with his uncle Pio Baroja. Pio took great interest and had a very important influence on his education. His early schooling was at the Instituto-Escuela de Madrid from 1921–1931. Later he was attending the University of Madrid when the Spanish Civil War broke out. The outbreak took him by surprise and he returned to Vera de Bidasoa. His father remained in Madrid and lost his printing press when his publishing headquarters were destroyed during a bombing raid.[3] After the war he returned to Madrid to complete his studies receiving a PhD (summa cum laude) in Ancient History. He worked as an assistant in the Ancient History and Dialectology departments until he became Director of the Museo del Pueblo Español (1942–1953). In 1947, Baroja was elected corresponding member of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language and the Real Academia de las Buenas Letras of Barcelona. In 1951 he received a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research to carry out ethnological research in the United States.

From 1952–1957, he was in charge of an official Spanish exploration mission in the Spanish Sahara. He later said, "I have strange images of what I have done... There are things which I have done in a moment of total change, such as when I went to the Sahara and wrote a book about the nomads...but I get the feeling that it was not even me who wrote it".[4]

Having grown up in an isolated community where people still believed in magic and witchcraft he became interested in the magical arts. Before he was twenty, he had spoken to elderly people who were convinced that there were "men and women who could change themselves into animals, fly, and do other things. He read numerous books, among them, the works of Pierre de Lancre. His interest, which had waned during the Spanish Civil War was renewed during a trip to London. He bought several more books and, blending his earlier and later findings, brought a more modern view of people in relation to the world around them. In his book entitled The World of the Witches (1961), he believed that the witch's world, like any other social group, changes considerably from one generation to the next. He explained that this book tied social history in with anthropology.[5]

In 1952 the British Council placed him in charge of the guidance of graduates who were to study Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He also taught Ethnology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. In 1961 he was the Director of Studies of Social and Economic History at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. In 1983 was a recipient of the Prince of Asturias Awards, and in 1989 he was awarded the Menéndez Pelayo International Prize for his research efforts in the field of Spanish Ethnology.

Plaque at Plaza Julio Caro Baroja in San Sebastián, Spain.

His memory is celebrated throughout Spain. The Plaza Julio Caro Baroja in San Sebastian and I.E.S. Julio Caro Baroja schools located in Fuenlabrada near Madrid; Getxo in Bilbao; Malaga in Andalusia and Pamplona in Navarre, are tributes to his many accomplishments and contributions to the fields of Anthropology and History.


  1. ^ "Editorial Caro Raggio Madrid | Baroja's World". Caroraggio.com. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  2. ^ "Carmen Baroja Nessi :: Auñamendi Entziklopedia". Euskomedia. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  3. ^ "Rafael Caro Raggio :: Auñamendi Entziklopedia". Euskomedia. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  4. ^ "The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Fpa.es. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]