In Memoriam


David Kaplan, Professor Emeritus

1929 - 2012

David Kaplan, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Brandeis University, passed away December 12, 2012 in Wayland MA at the age of 83 after a 5 year battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was born in Union City New Jersey on May 8, 1929. He received his BA, MA and PhD (1960) degrees in anthropology from the University of Michigan.  His doctoral field work was done in Mexico. He taught at the University of Oklahoma for two years (1959-1961) and then was at Brandeis University for the rest of his career. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1966, and to Professor in 1972. He was awarded Emeritus status in 1996. Kaplan served as Chair of the Department twice, from 1971-1974, and again from 1979 to 1980. He served as Dean of the Graduate School from 1983 to 1990. He published articles on Mesoamerica. His major publications concerned theory in anthropology.  His Brandeis colleague Robert A. Manners and he published Theory in Anthropology, A Sourcebook in 1968. This was followed by Kaplan and Manners, Culture Theory in 1972, a critical evaluation of major theories in anthropology. Culture Theory remained in print for decades and was widely used in anthropology courses in the United States and in other countries.

Kaplan’s areas of specialty included method and theory, economic and political anthropology, and peasant culture of Mesoamerica. At Brandeis, Kaplan taught courses on the Nature of Human Nature and the Evolution of Political Economy, as well as graduate seminars in method and theory. He helped advise many PhD dissertations. 

He is survived by Carol his wife of 55 years, two sons, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.