Anthropologist David Graeber, who worked on the initial stages of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has died in Venice at 59, his agent said.
A professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, Graeber studied anarchism and anti-capitalist movements, and challenged the world to consider the plight of the Kurds in the Middle East. His agent, Melissa Flashman, on Thursday announced his death.
Graeber authored many books skewering aspects of modern society, including “Debt: The First 5,000 Years.” He is perhaps best known for his role in themovement, a grassroots response to the 2008 financial crisis that highlighted the domination of the economy by the richest 1% of the population.
While Graeber is often credited with the slogan “We are the 99%,” he said on his website it was a communal effort.
“I did first suggest that we call ourselves ‘the 99%,'” he wrote. “Then two Spanish indignados and a Greek anarchist added the ‘we’ and later a food-not-bombs veteran put the `are’ between them. And they say you can’t create something worthwhile by committee!”
Born in New York, Graeber taught at Yale University before moving on to Goldsmiths, the University of London and finally the London School of Economics. Tributes poured out across social media from fellow academics, former politicians and publishers.
“He was monstrously original,” essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote.
The anarchist collective CrimethInc called him “a brilliant and wide-ranging thinker and an indomitable anarchist who saw freedom even in the workings of electrons.”