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David Kertzer

Dupee University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology & Italian Studies:
Phone: +1 401 863 3251

Professor David Kertzer's research ranges widely, including: Italian politics and history, anthropological demography, social organization, politics and symbols, political economy and family systems, age structuring, European historical demography and the history of Catholic Church-Jewish relations.


David Kertzer joined Brown in 1992 as Paul Dupee, Jr., University Professor of Social Science. A Professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies, he was appointed Provost in 2006, serving in that role until 2011. Kertzer founded and directed the Anthropological Demography program. He was also founding director of the Politics, Culture, and Identity research program of the Watson Institute for International Studies.

A Brown alumnus (A.B., 1969), Kertzer received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University in 1974. He was William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at Bowdoin College from 1989 to 1992. Kertzer twice won the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best book in Italian history. Kertzer co-founded and for a decade co-edited the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. He served as president of the Social Science History Association and co-edited the book series New Perspectives on Anthropological and Social Demography for Cambridge University Press. His book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. His 2001 book, The Popes Against the Jews, has been published in nine languages. In 2005 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His latest book, The Pope and Mussolini (January 2014), based on recently opened Vatican archives, tells the story of the Holy See's relations with Italy's Fascist dictatorship.


Kertzer's major interests include the anthropological study of politics; anthropological demography; and European social history. He is particularly interested in how political identities are created and in the role of religion in politics.

Current Research

For the past several years Kertzer has been working in newly opened Vatican archives, along with Italian state archives, on a book that probes the relationship between Pope Pius XI and Mussolini. Random House is publishing the resulting book, The Pope and Mussolini, in January 2014 (Rizzoli will publish an Italian edition at the same time).


Ph.D. Brandeis U 1974


--Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2005.
--Mark Lynton Prize for History, finalist 2002, The Popes Against the Jews.
--Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation Study Center, Bellagio, Italy, May-June 2000.
--Fulbright Chair, University of Bologna, spring 2000.
--American Academy of Rome, Department of Education Professor, fall 1999.
--National Book Award for nonfiction for 1997, finalist, for The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. Also National Jewish Book Award for Jewish-Christian relations, 1997.
--National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1995-96.
--1990 Marraro Prize (Society for Italian Historical Studies) for "the best work on Italian history" in 1989 for Family, Political Economy, and Demographic Change.
--Guggenheim Fellowship, 1986-1987.
--1985 Marraro Prize (Society for Italian Historical Studies) for "the best work on Italian history" in 1984 for Family Life in Central Italy.
--Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, 1982-3.
--Fulbright Senior Lecturer, University of Catania, Italy, winter-spring 1978.
--Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellow, 1972-1973.
--Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, Brown University, 1969.


American Anthropological Association

Population Association of America

Social Science History Association

International Union for the Scientific Study of Population

American Ethnological Society

Society for the Anthropology of Europe


Modern Italian History
Anthropological demography
History of Anthropological Theory

Funded Research

2004-10: Principal investigator, "Explaining Very Low Fertility," National Institutes of Health ($798,000.).
2004-6: Principal investigator, "Explaining Very Low Fertility," National Science Foundation ($253,000.).

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