Watson Institute for International Studies
David Kertzer

David Kertzer

David Kertzer

Faculty Fellow
Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science
Professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies

Biography

David I. Kertzer has been the Dupee University Professor of Social Science since coming to Brown in 1992. He is also professor of anthropology and Italian studies.

His books include Comrades and Christians: Religion and Political Struggle in Communist Italy (Cambridge University Press, 1980); Ritual, Politics, and Power (Yale University Press, 1988); Sacrificed for Honor: Italian Infant Abandonment and the Politics of Reproductive Control (Beacon Press, 1993); Politics and Symbols: The Italian Communist Party and the Fall of Communism (Yale University Press, 1996); The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (Knopf, 1997) (finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction); The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism (Knopf, 2001) (published in Italian, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian, Polish, Hungarian, and other editions); Prisoner of the Vatican (Houghton Mifflin, 2004); Amalia's Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), and The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House, 2014) (Italian edition, Rizzoli; UK edition Oxford University Press).

In 2005 Kertzer was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is past president of the Social Science History Association and of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, and served as provost of Brown University from 2006 to 2011.

Research

Publications

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe. New York: Random House, 2014. Italian edition Rizzoli; UK edition Oxford University Press; Romanian edition Editura Rao

Edgardo Mortara,” Enzyklopaedie juedischer Geschichte und Kultur, ed. By Dan Diner. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2014

“Pietro Tacchi Venturi, S.J., Mussolini, Pius XI, and the Jews.”  Pp. 265-73 in The Tragic Couple: Encounters between Jews and Jesuits, ed. by Robert Maryks and James Bernauer.  Leiden: Brill, 2014.

“Da Garibaldi a Berlusconi attraverso Mussolini.” In Questo diletto almo paese: profili dell’unità d’Italia, ed. by Ernesto Galli della Loggia. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2013.

"The United States, the Holy See, and Italy's racial laws," (with Alessandro Visani). Pp. 327-41 in Charles Gallagher, David Kertzer, and Alberto Melloni, eds., Pius XI and America. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2012.

"Italy's Path to Very Low Fertility: The Adequacy of Economic and Second Demographic Transition Theories," (with Michael White, Laura Bernardi, and Giuseppe Gabrielli). European Journal of Population 25(1): 89-115, 2009.

"Social Anthropology and Social Science History." Social Science History 33:1:1-16 (2009).

"An imperfect contraceptive society: Fertility and contraception in Italy." (with Alessandra Gribaldo, and Maya Judd). Population and Development Review, 35(3): 551-584 (2009).

Amalia's Tale: A Peasant's Fight for Justice in 19th Century Italy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Italian edition Rizzoli (La Sfida di Amalia, 2010); Brazilian edition by Rocco (A Historia de Amalia, 2010).

“Population composition as an object of political struggle,” with Dominique Arel. Pp. 664-677 in Robert Goodin and Charles Tilly, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Teaching

Anthropology 1910G: Senior Seminar: Politics and Symbols

Fall 2014

It is impossible to understand politics without understanding the key role played by symbols, myth, and ritual. This seminar provides the theoretical background – drawing heavily on anthropology, but also on a variety of other fields – to examine how political actors manipulate symbols and devise and utilize myths and rituals to win support. Through such symbolic activities, political reality is created and political groups formed, whether aimed at defending the status quo or overthrowing it. We look at examples throughout the world and throughout history.   Special attention is given to the 2014 political races in the U.S.

Italian Studies 1390  Modern Italy

Sping 2015

An introduction to Italian society, culture, and politics, focusing on developments over the past two centuries.  We pay particular attention to how a modern Italian national identity was created; the role played by the Catholic Church; changing gender and class relations; family life; conflicts between the North and the South; the development of fascism; and postwar political developments, including the influence of the Communist Party, and the rapid political changes of the past decade.  

News|Recent News

Kertzer book to be made into Spielberg film.

April 21, 2014

David Kertzer talks about his excitement at the announcement that Steven Spielberg plans to make a film based on his 1997 nonfiction book “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.”

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Conference Planned on Vatican's Impact on World in the 1920s and '30s; Call for Papers

April 8, 2010

The Vatican's opening in 2006 of its archives for the period of the papacy of Pius XI (1922-1939) has prompted a burst of historical research which is not only shedding new light on the role of the Holy See and the Church in this period of extraordinary political and social turmoil, but also on some of the major world events of this period. In an effort to bring scholars from the many different countries who are working in these archives together and to highlight this emerging work to the broader scholarly community, a number of institutions have come together to create a research network. The principal sponsors of this initiative are the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XIII in Bologna; the University of Münster; the École Française de Rome; the Biblioteca Ambrosiana of Milan; and Brown University (USA). Following a June 2009 conference in Milan and a March 2010 conference in Münster, a conference is planned for October 28-30, 2010 at Brown University.

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Events