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Clifford Robert Barnett

1929 - 2015
Clifford Robert Barnett Obituary
Clifford Robert Barnett


Anthropologist Clifford Barnett died peacefully on September 11, 2015 from congestive heart failure. Clifford (Cliff) was born in Brooklyn New York in 1929 to Leo and Dorothy Barnett.
He attended high school in Queens, New York where he met his lifelong love Zelda. They married in 1949. After graduating from The City College of New York in 1950, Cliff went to Cornell to further pursue what would be his life's passion, Anthropology. He received his MA in 1951 and his PhD in 1960. His thesis on the Vicos Project in the highlands of Peru still continues to generate interest.
Cliff had a long time association with the Southwest and, in particular, the Navajo Nation and later Zuni Pueblo. He first visited the Southwest at the urging of his teacher and mentor John Adair. This association resulted in his participation (1961-63) in the Navajo- Cornell Field Health Research Program at Many Farms, Arizona. This project would be the first of many where he worked collaboratively with medical professionals and led him to the field of medical anthropology He went on to be one of the leading proponents of this branch of anthropology. His 1981 article "What is Medical Anthropology?" was adopted as the official statement of the Society for Medical Anthropology.
In 1964, Cliff was hired as the Assistant Director for the Program in Medicine and Behavioral Science at Stanford University. He was named a full professor of Anthropology at Stanford in 1977 and held that position through 2001, when he became a Professor Emeritus. He cared deeply about the many students whose careers he nurtured.
Cliff was a wonderful raconteur and addicted to puns. Cliff was an ardent bicyclist, commuting and doing bicycle tours in the U.S. and abroad with Zelda on their tandem. In the latter part of his life, he and Zelda took up jazz dancing. This became a great passion, and even as his health waned, he found the energy to get out and dance.
Cliff is survived by his wife Zelda, son David (Abbie Lane), daughter Margot (Paul Hooven), his sister Susana and nephews Roberto Gándara (Mimi) and Javier Gándara (Ana Maria)
Contributions in Cliff's memory can be made to the American Indian College Fund or the Society for Applied Anthropology Bea Medicine Fund.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 20, 2015
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