“David was a very influential anthropologist, political activist and public intellectual,” said Laura Bear, director of the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, in a CNN statement.
“He will be greatly missed as a friend and colleague in our department. The community of our staff and students will not be the same now. But his great work will be read over the next generations.”
“Yesterday the best man in the world, my husband and my friend. @davidgraeber died in a hospital in Venice,” she wrote.
The hospital’s press room told CNN that Graeber was in Venice on Wednesday and was not feeling well and his family called an ambulance. His signature has not yet been revealed.
He said on his website that he entered anthropology “after being discovered by some Maya archaeologists because of the strange hobby I developed to translate Maya hieroglyphs.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the State University of New York in 1984.
Having worked in several places, including Chicago and Madagascar, Graeber became a professor at Yale University. The university’s decision not to continue his contract in 2004 was controversial at the time, and Graeber and others suggested that the decision may have been motivated by his anarchist activism.
Graeber worked at London University’s Goldsmiths from 2007 to 2013 before becoming a professor at the London School of Economics.
Graeber has been involved in the alternative globalization movement since 2000 and was part of the initial meeting that launched Occupy Wall Street. He was credited with popularizing the movement’s slogan “We are 99%”, but pointed out that he did not come up with it.
“No, I personally didn’t come up with the slogan’We are 99%’,” he wrote. “At first we offered to call ourselves 99%. Then two Spanish Indigna and Greek anarchists added “us” and later a non-bomb food veteran put “are” between them. And They say you can’t. Make something worthwhile on the committee!”
CNN’s Brian Ries and Valentina DiDonato contributed to this report.