David Kertzer

Professor of International and Public Affairs (Research), Paul R. Dupee, Jr. University Professor Emeritus of Social Science and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Italian Studies
280 Brook Street, Room 213
Areas of Expertise Children & Families, Religion & Politics, Social Movements, Urbanization
Areas of Interest Italian politics and society, role of symbolism and ritual in politics, history of Vatican relations with the Italian state, modern history of anti-Semitism, the history of the family in Europe


David I. Kertzer has been the Dupee University Professor of Social Science since coming to Brown in 1992. He is also a 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.


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, edby 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.

Recent News

In a recent Associated Press article, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Italian Studies David Kertzer, who uncovered evidence in the Vatican archives of the Catholic church's history of involvement in the persecution of Jews, offers commentary.
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HistoryNet article discusses David Kertzer's book "The Pope at War" and the newly released Vatican archives that cast Pius XII's wartime leadership in a damning light.
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