Enrique Mayer

Professor of Anthropology

Enrique MayerEnrique Mayer, B.Sc. London School of Economics, M.A, and Ph.D. Cornell University, faculty member at Yale since 1995: Son of Jewish immigrants fleeing the tyranny of Nazi Germany for the promise of a better life, for over three decades, you have enlightened us with your expertise, knowledge, and passion for Latin American anthropology and ethnography. Trekking over the farms, villages, and hamlets of the Andes mountains and your native Peru, you have shown how agrarian societies inform us of the human condition and of how communities adapt, suffer, and prosper in response to the most challenging social, environmental, and political conditions. Through your tireless fieldwork and scholarly struggles, you have shed light on an often-ignored facet of the human existence and provided a clear and resonant voice to the often voiceless campesinos, bringing their lives, toils, and triumphs to the forefront of anthropological scholarship and awareness. With the telling of “Ugly Stories of the Peruvian Agrarian Reform” as well as the cultural richness of the Peruvian highlands, you have provided crucial insights into this area of the world and brought it to life for Yale, and indeed, the entire global scholarly community. Your work on the environmental anthropology of the Andes has also enriched our knowledge and appreciation of the humble potato, arguably the very food of life for many in the Andes and beyond.

Your many students have followed in your footsteps into the thin Peruvian air and elsewhere, leaving their own indelible mark on anthropological scholarship, although your influence and scholarly voice is evident, not unlike a subtle but ever present Andean wind. Through your abundant writings, renowned books, and prominence in the scholarly community of Latin American and agrarian scholars, you have etched your distinctive mark within the long and rich tradition of Yale Anthropologists. Since joining the Yale faculty, you have made important contributions to the Anthropology Department and the Council on Agrarian Studies, as well as the Council of Latin American Studies. Indeed your years as Chair of the Council of Latin American Studies brought honor and prestige to your home department and the University as a whole. You have blessed Yale with decades of exceptional scholarship and service, and today as you retire from your official duties to the shores of Brazil—but not from you active research program—your fellow Anthropologists and Yale scholars salute you and wish you many more years of blissful scholarship and exploration.

Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans