David I. Kertzer Paul R. Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Italian Studies

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 the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, 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, based on recently opened Vatican archives, tells the story of the Holy See's relations with Italy's Fascist dictatorship. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2015.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

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 (Il patto col diavolo: Mussolini e papa Pio XI, 2014); UK edition, Oxford University Press, 2014; Romanian Edition, Papa si Mussolini, Editura Rao, 2015; French edition, Le pape et Mussolini, Les Arenes, 2016.  German, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese, Czech, and Brazilian editions in press.  Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and the American Historical Association Marraro Prize for best book in Italian history.  A History Book Club main selection.

Amalia's Tale: A Poor Peasant, an Ambitious Attorney, and a Fight for Justice.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.  Italian edition, La sfida di Amalia, Rizzoli, 2008; Brazilian edition A Historia de Amalia, Rocco, 2009,

Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes' Plot to Capture Italy from the New Italian State. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Italian edition Rizzoli (Prigioniero del Vaticano, 2005). A History Book Club selection. Chosen as one of the best books of 2004 by Publishers' Weekly.

The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, 2001. New York: Knopf (paperback Vintage, 2002). A selection of Book of the Month Club; Quality Paperback book club; and Traditions (the Book of the Month Club's Jewish interest book club). Italian edition by Rizzoli (I papi contro gli ebrei, 2002); Brazilian edition by Rocco (O Vaticano e os Judeos: Os papas e a ascensão do anti-semitismo moderno, 2002); Spanish edition by Plaza Janés (Los papas contro los judíos, 2002); Dutch edition by Prometheus (In Gods Naam, 2002); British edition by Macmillan (The Unholy War, 2002); German edition by Propylaen Verlag (Die Päpste gegen die Juden. Der Vatikan und der moderne Antisemitismus, 2001); French version by Editions Robert Laffont (Le Vatican contre les juifs, 2003); Hungarian edition by Ulpius-Haz (A pápák a zsidók ellen, 2003); Polish edition by W.A.B. (Papieze a Zydzi: O roli Watykanu w rozwoju wspólczesnego antysemityzmu , 2005) . Finalist, Mark Lynton Prize for History 2002. Selected one of the "100 Best Books of the Year, 2002", Toronto Globe and Mail.

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. New York: Knopf, 1997. Paperback published by Vintage, 1998. Italian edition (Prigioniero del Papa Re) published by Rizzoli in 1996; British edition by Picador in 1997 (paperback will be by Papermac); French (Pie IX et l'enfant juif, Perrin, 2001); German (Die Entführung des Edgardo Mortara, Hanser, 1998); Brazilian (O Seqüestro de Edgardo Mortara, Rocco, 1998); Hebrew (Kinneret, 2000); Spanish (El secuestro de Edgardo Mortara, Plaza Janés, 2000). Finalist, National Book Award for nonfiction, 1997. Winner, National Jewish Book Award for Jewish-Christian relations, 1997. Selected one of the "Best Books of the Year, 1997", Publishers Weekly, Toronto Globe and Mail. "Edgardo Mine," a stage version of the book , written by Alfred Uhry, opened at Hartford Stage in October, 2002.

Politics and Symbols: The Italian Communist Party and the Fall of Communism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Sacrificed for Honor: Italian Infant Abandonment and the Politics of Reproductive Control. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993 (paper, 1994). Runner-up, 1995 Goode Award (book on family), American Sociological Association.

Family, Political Economy, and Demographic Change: The Transformation of Life in Casalecchio, Italy, 1861-1921 (with Dennis Hogan). Cloth and paper editions. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. Italian edition (with Dennis Hogan and Massimo Marcolin) published as Famiglia, Economia, e Società. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1991. Winner 1990 Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies.

Ritual, Politics, and Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. Cloth and paper. Offered as an alternate selection by the History Book Club. Italian edition, Riti e simboli del potere, Laterza, 1989; Japanese edition, published by Keiso Shobo; 1990. Romanian edition, Ritual, Politica, si Putere, Editura Univers, 2002.  Polish edition, Rytual, Polityka, Wladza, Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen, 2010; Chinese edition, published by Jangsu People's Publishing House, 2015 (with a new preface by the auithor).

Family Life in Central Italy, 1880-1910: Sharecropping, Wage Labor, and Coresidence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984. Completely revised and expanded version of Famiglia contadina, 1981. Winner of the 1984 Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies.

Famiglia Contadina e Urbanizzazione [Peasant Family and Urbanization]. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1981.

Comrades and Christians: Religion and Political Struggle in Communist Italy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Cloth and softcover editions. Italian translation with a new preface published as Cattolici e Comunisti. Milan: Franco Angeli, 1981. New English language edition published by Waveland Press, 1990.

research overview

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.

research statement

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

Kertzer is currently working on a book on the Roman Revolution of 1848, to be published in the U.S. by Random House, while he continues his research on the use of identity categories in demographic research.

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.).

2002-4  Co-principal investigator, “Russia’s New Experiment in Power Sharing: Self-Determination, National Identity, and the First Russian Census,” Carnegie Corporation, $344,000.

1998-2001  Co-principal investigator, “Recreating National Identity in the States of the Former Soviet Union,” Mellon Foundation ($40,000); NCEEER ($60,000).

1996-98  Principal investigator, “The Lives of Abandoned Children,” National Science Foundation ($150,000.).

1995-96  National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers  ($30,000.).

1994  Principal investigator, "Conference on Anthropological Demography," Funded by NICHD ($31,398) and NIA ($5,000).

1990-91   Principal investigator, "Infant Abandonment in Nineteenth-Century Italy," NSF ($50,000.).

1986-1988   Principal investigator, "Coresidential Dynamics among Italian Sharecroppers," NSF ($110,000.).

1986-1987   Guggenheim Fellowship.

1984-1986   Principal investigator, "Longitudinal Perspectives on  Demographic Behavior,"  NICHD ($349,000.).

1982-1983   Principal investigator, continuation grant, "Household  Dynamics in Longitudinal Perspective," NICHD ($148,000.)

1982-1983   Grant to support fellowship at Center for Advanced Study, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

1980   Research grant, Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Catania, Italy.

1980   Summer Institute on Life-Span Human Development, Center for  Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford.

1979-1982   Principal investigator, "Household Dynamics in Longitudinal Perspective," NICHD, ($254,000.).

1975-1977   Principal investigator, "Social Change in an Urbanizing  Italian Parish," National Institute of Child Health and Human  Development, ($30,000.).

1975-76   Co-principal investigator, "Dynamics of Age Stratification:   The Latuka in Transition,"  Russell Sage Foundation.

1974   NIH postdoctoral Summer Institute in Population.  Carolina  Population Center, Chapel Hill.

geographic research area