Tributes to Corbyn-supporting academic David Graeber, who dies aged 59
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Tributes to Corbyn-supporting academic David Graeber, who dies aged 59

American anthropology professor who coined the phrase 'we are the 99 percent’ passed away in London last week

David Graeber (Wikipedia/Author: Guido van Nispen/ Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vannispen/16741093492/ / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)
David Graeber (Wikipedia/Author: Guido van Nispen/ Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vannispen/16741093492/ / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

An American anthropology professor in London who defended Jeremy Corbyn and played a prominent role in the Occupy Wall Street movement has died suddenly at the age of 59.

David Graeber, who coined the phrase ‘We are the 99 percent,’ came to the UK in 2007, lecturing at Goldsmiths University for six years before joining the London School of Economics in 2013.

Born in New York and raised in a cooperative apartment block, he was influenced by his working-class Jewish parents. His father, who was born in Kansas, had been a Communist in his youth and fought in the Spanish Civil War, while his Polish-born mother, a garment worker, was active in the textile industry’s union.

Graeber was still a teen when he first identified with anarchism and his later research led to books about such issues as the effects of debt, the use of direct action, the reducing work/life balance and the changing nature of employment.

In his adopted home, he supported the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against the charge that he was antisemitic, telling an interviewer last year: “If you look at the people who have left the party over antisemitism, most aren’t Jewish. A lot of the people who still remain close to Jeremy Corbyn are Jewish. It’s absurd.”

He had earlier penned a short but blistering attack on those he felt were smearing Corbyn, accusing them of using Graeber’s personal safety “as a political chess piece” and of “crying wolf when there are real wolves at the door”.

Graeber died suddenly on 2 September and is survived by his wife Nika.

If you look at the people who have left the party over antisemitism, most aren’t Jewish. A lot of the people who still remain close to Jeremy Corbyn are Jewish. It’s absurd

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