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Julio Caro Baroja

Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences 1983

Anthropologist, ethnologist and historian, Julio Caro Baroja (Madrid, Spain, 1914 - Vera de Bidasoa, Navarra, Spain, 1995) stands out for his constant and rigorous research work, dedicated to the social and cultural anthropology of the peoples of Spain and of given social groups, with a special interest in Basque history, culture and society

He was born into a family of Basque descent on his mother´s side. At a very early age he moved to the Navarrese town of Vera de Bidasoa, where he was to spend a good part of his childhood with his uncle, Pío Baroja, who was to have a decisive influence on his education. Julio Caro received his early education at the "Instituto Escuela de Madrid" (1921-1931), beginning his university studies in the same city, studies which he was forced to interrupt due to the outbreak of the civil war. A refugee in Vera de Bidasoa during the conflict, he would finish his university studies after the war was over, obtaining the Extraordinary Doctorate Prize in the History section.

He later worked as an assistant in the departments of Ancient History and Dialectology, and for ten years,from 1942 to 1953, he filled the post of Director of the Museum of the Spanish People. He likewise cooperated with the Institute of Humanities and the Centre for Peninsular Ethnology. He was elected in 1947 as a corresponding member of the Academy of the Basque Language and the "Academia de las Buenas Letras" of Barcelona. In 1951, he received a grant from the Wennergreen Foundation to carry out research into matters related with ethnology in the United States. After his return to Spain, in 1952 he was placed in charge of an official mission to carry out exploration work in the Spanish Sahara, which was to occupy him until 1957, and of which he was much later to state, with his typical scepticism, "I have strange images of what I have dome ... 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 that wrote it."

In 1952, the British Council placed him in charge of guidance for graduates who were to study Anthropology at the University of Oxford, and he subsequently taught Ethnology at the University of Coimbra. In 1961 he became Director of Studies of Social and Economic History at the "Ecole Practique de Hautes-Etudes" of Paris, and in 1982 he was appointed extraordinary professor of the University of the Basque Country.

He belongs to the Hispanic Society of America, the German Archaeological Institute, the Society of Portuguese Archaeologists and various other cultural and scholarly foreign societies, he was a disciple of Telesforo de Aranzadi, of Hugo Obermaier, of José Miguel de Barandiarán and Manuel Gómez Moreno, he entered the Royal Academy of History on the 12th May 1963, being received by Ramón Carande y Thovar, with a lecture on "Crypto-Jewish Society at the Court of Philip IV". He subsequently entered the Royal Spanish Academy (1986).

In June 1989 he was awarded the "Menéndez Pelayo" International Prize, highlighting once again his intense research efforts as a whole, which have produced highly important studies of themes in Spanish Ethnology.

Unorthodox, critical and always independent, whose opinions have been the subject of controversy on more than one occasion, has defined himself as, "a man with an orderly life, subject to reason, not to passion," and has even described himself, with deep and undoubtedly Baroja irony, as, "an old man who does not have much hope of anything."

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