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David Kertzer

David Kertzer

+1 401 863 1938
280 Brook Street, Room 213


Downloadable CV

David Kertzer

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


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.

Among his books are 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, published in 12 languages); The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism (Knopf, 2001) (published in 9 languages); 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) (published in 11 languages)  In 2015, Kertzer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Biography for The Pope and Mussolini.

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.


Current Projects

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic, 1848-1850


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.


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.  

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