Anthropologist Gerald D. Berreman, expert on inequality in India and leader on ethical standards, dies at 83

Gerald D. Berreman, an emeritus professor of anthropology and a specialist on social inequality in India who also was known for opposing the Vietnam War and anthropologist involvement in covert Cold War endeavors, died on Dec. 23 at the age of 83.

Gerald Berreman in India. (Photo courtesy of the UC Berkeley Anthropology Department.)

Gerald Berreman in Dehradun, India. (Photo courtesy of the UC Berkeley Anthropology Department.)

He joined the anthropology department as an assistant professor in 1962 and retired in 2001. For 40 years, he conducted a longitudinal study of caste, gender, class and environment in their historical context in and around the Indian village of Sirkanda, and in urban Dehradun.

On his webpage, Berreman proudly highlighted some of his other work, including helping deconstruct a popular hoax in the 1970s and 1980s about the discovery of a Stone Age tribe called the Tasaday in Mindinao, Philippines.

Berreman also noted on the website that he co-drafted the American Anthropological Association’s ethics code to clarify that an anthropologist’s first responsibility is to the people being studied, and to prohibit secret research. In a 1985 campus news release, Berreman said anthropologists might best help the vulnerable groups they study by presenting accurate and sympathetic accounts of their ways of life, an approach he described as “human interest anthropology.”

Berreman’s survivors include his wife, Keiko Yamanaka of UC Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies.

A fuller obituary is forthcoming. Check the Department of Anthropology website and the NewsCenter for more information about a department memorial and other details as they develop.