David Maybury-Lewis Passes On

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I must report the death of David Maybury-Lewis on December 2, 2008 2007. David Maybury-Lewis was the Edward C. Henderson Professor Emeritus at Harvard University.

David was an eminent scholar of Amazonia, an enthusiastic teacher and mentor to generations of students, and an untiring advocate for indigenous peoples around the world. In 1972 he founded Cultural Survival, an international organization to support and promote the voices and rights of indigenous groups. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford in 1956, joined the Harvard faculty in 1960, and served several terms as Chair of the Department of Anthropology between 1971 and 1981.

The family has not yet announced plans for a funeral and memorial service. As soon as further details are available, I will distribute them.

Please join me in extending condolences to David’s family in this time of bereavement.


Ted Bestor
Department of Anthropology
Harvard University

3 thoughts on “David Maybury-Lewis Passes On

  1. Frank Zukiewicz

    It saddens me greatly to hear of the death of Mr.Maybury-Lewis. His program, “Millennium” has impacted me from the time It was first aired and I will never forget him, he was a great man . I would also like to mention that I had the opportunity to watch the complete “Millennium” series with my father, who was dying of cancer, it was the last thing he watched and he commented on how wonderful and eye opening it had been. The world has lost an amazingly insightful and compassionate man who has gifted us all with his legacy of knowledge and I share in the sorrow of his passing.

  2. Robb

    I am very sad to find out about this. My mother taped the Millenium series when it was originally broadcast and it’s still one of the most amazing works I have ever seen. Our family loves this series. It’s a great way to teach our son about other cultures, and about our own [“Western”/American] culture. The respect and love that Mr. Maybury-Lewis had for these people comes through like a bright light. The bravery he had to tackle the subject matter engenders the utmost admiration from me. I have been trying to find the series on DVD to no avail — I fear that our VHS tapes are wearing out! I keep searching, which is how I found out this very sad news. I had always hoped to contact him to tell him just how much his work meant to us and to so many other people. If we had more David Maybury-Lewises in this world, it would be a far better place.

  3. Maximilian Forte

    I could have said much more about David Maybury-Lewis, and really wanted to, and then found myself inundated, especially by very bad news of the death of one person close to me who was also an engaged anthropologist. Maybury-Lewis was a towering figure, not one who can be replaced, and I came very close to having him as a supervisor for my PhD except that year his Department decided to focus on getting students for other members of the Dept, and so I lost out. What a great pity for me. This was a man who clearly made an impact and had a huge public contribution to make, and he will not be forgotten. I can only imagine how his family, former students, colleagues, friends in the Amazon, must still be grieving his passage.

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