SAFA, HELEN I., 82
Gainesville - Helen I. Safa, pioneering anthropologist of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America, died on Nov. 4 at E.T. York Haven Hospice. She was Professor Emerita of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. Born in 1930 in New York City to German immigrant parents and a graduate of Cornell University, she earned her MA (1958) and Ph.D. (1962) in anthropology at Columbia University. She first taught at Syracuse University and then was on the faculty and Director of the Latin American Institute and Chair of Anthropology at Rutgers University before being recruited to the University of Florida as Director of the UF Center for Latin American Studies in 1980. She served as President of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) in 1983-85, and retired from UF in 1997.
Her work on women, families, gender politics and ideologies combined solid scholarship with a political thrust entailing a firm commitment to social equality and a steadfast belief that scholarship can further positive societal change. Among her most significant publications were The Urban Poor of Puerto Rico (1974) and The Myth of the Male Breadwinner (1995). In 2007, she received LASA's highest honor, the Kalman Silvert Award, given for distinguished lifetime contributions to the study of Latin America and the Caribbean. She was also honored as a founder of Puerto Rican anthropology and women's studies by the Puerto Rican Association of Anthropology and the American Ethnology Society, and received the 2003 Conrad Arensburg award from the Society for the Anthropology of Work of the American Anthropological Association.
She was married to Manouchehr Safa from 1962 to his death in 1994, and is survived by their daughter, Mitra, and stepchildren Kaveh and Arya, and her second husband, John Dumoulin, whom she married in 1999. She leaves an extended family including daughter-in-law Michele, son-in-law Roland, stepson Sebas and wife Silvina, and grandchildren Arman, Laylee, Nicolas, Alexis, Anna, Pablo, Bailey, Ethan, and baby Luca.
A Celebration of Life in her honor will be held on Saturday, December 21st. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Matheson Museum, 513 East University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601, or to the Safa Graduate Student Travel Endowment at the UF Center for Latin American Studies
Published in Gainesville Sun from Dec. 16 to Dec. 17, 2013