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David Apter, 1924-2010
Photo by Michael Marsland/Yale University

David Apter, 1924-2010

David E. Apter, 85, a pioneer in African studies who was widely known for his interdisciplinary work in political science and sociology, died on May 4, 2010, at his home in North Haven, Conn. He is survived by family members including Andrew Apter, director of the UCLA African Studies Center. The New York Times and Yale Daily News published obituaries.

From the New York Times, May 9, 2010

In his 46-year academic career, Professor Apter wrote or helped write more than 20 books that drew on social science and political theory and his own forays into impoverished lands, where he encountered peasants, politicians and sometimes terrorists. In 1986, Professor Apter spent months in China interviewing survivors of the 1934-35 Long March, which brought Mao Zedong  eventually to power. In "Revolutionary Discourse in Mao's Republic" (Harvard, 1994), written with Tony Saich, Professor Apter told how Mao wrote his Little Red Book of political sayings while the marchers, sometimes living in caves, set up so-called "universities" so that they could digest Mao's texts.

"The intensity of their indoctrination was remarkable, how they willingly surrendered personal discretion to gain collective power," Professor Apter said in an interview in April.

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From the Yale Daily News, May 7

Apter, an expert on democratization and political violence in Africa, Latin America and Asia, both conducted field research and taught at many of the world's top universities, including Yale, Princeton (where he earned his Ph.D.), Oxford, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and the Fondation des sciences politiques in Paris. Yale faculty remembered Apter as a deep thinker, a dear friend and a champion of interdisciplinary scholarship.

"David was immensely curious and wonderfully articulate," said Benjamin Foster, professor of near eastern languages and civilizations. "He loved good conversation, good food and the good life."

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