Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Beebe Bahrami

photo of Beebe  Bahrami

Beebe Bahrami is an award-winning writer and anthropologist who specializes in the intersecting worlds of European, Atlantic, and Mediterranean cultures, from prehistory to the present, especially in France, Spain, and Portugal.

Beebe earned her BA from the University of Colorado and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She wrote her doctorate on oral history, memory, and identity among the descendants of medieval Spanish Jews and Muslims living today in Morocco or reclaiming their roots in Spain after five centuries of exile. She received a Fulbright to complete this work, which also led her to explore the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage road that came into being because of the dynamics between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Iberia. Since, with her main focus on sacred traditions, religion, and pilgrimage, Beebe has walked, researched, and gathered tales along nearly 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) of pilgrimage routes across Europe.

As a part of Beebe’s anthropological training at Penn, in addition to cultural anthropology, she also trained in linguistics, physical anthropology, and archaeology. Her research and writing often cross several disciplines. She loves to bring to life and show the complex intersection of many influences that define the cultures of Portugal, Spain, and France. This includes their prehistory and history, languages, food and wine traditions, folklore and festivals, religious and sacred life, work and daily life, and art and architecture (she especially focuses on Romanesque, which she considers books in stone).

Her books include The Spiritual Traveler Spain—A Guide to Sacred Sites and Pilgrim Routes (Paulist Press), Cafe Oc—A Nomad's Tale of Magic, Mystery, and Finding Home in the Dordogne of Southwestern France (Shanti Arts), Cafe Neandertal—Excavating Our Past in One of Europe's Most Ancient Places (Counterpoint), Historic Walking Guides Madrid (DestinWorld), and most recently, the comprehensive guidebook, Moon Camino de Santiago (Hachette). She also is working on two new books. One, The Atlantic Celts, is a co-authored gastronomic history of Atlantic Europe from Iberia to Ireland. The second, The Way of the Wild Goose, is an exploration of a medieval mystery on the Camino de Santiago that still captures the modern pilgrim’s imagination today.