June 14, 2004

Gary Brana-Shute: Mr. Caribbean

Snapshots In My Time, Of My Time.....Hauntings.

Oh my gosh. Such bad news today. I was searching the web for anthropology subjects and came across the following. I just wish I had seen it in time to attend the services. Gary Brana-Shute was a great man-such a smart man with a great love of people and gusto for life. I thank him for all the things he taught me and exposed me to. I WILL be keeping my gourd!

BRANA-SHUTE, Gary Charleston resident Gary Brana-Shute, internationally renowned for his expertise in the socioeconomic and political affairs of the Caribbean, died peacefully at his residence on Friday, February 20, 2004 after a prolonged bout with cancer. A cultural anthropologist and prolific writer, Dr. Brana-Shute spent his professional life working in and studying issues of the Caribbean, publishing four books and about fifty articles and commissioned reports. One of the books and about a dozen articles and reports were coauthored with his wife of 32 years, Dr. Rosemary Brana-Shute, a history professor at the College of Charleston, whom he met as a graduate student at the University of Florida and with whom he shared a love of travel, living and learning in the Caribbean. A gifted field researcher, Dr. Brana-Shute worked with ease with a wide variety of peoples, especially those who were the least empowered. His first book was on working-class Afro-Surinamese men (former Dutch Guyana), an effort which forever fixed his love for Suriname and the Surinamese Creole language. He returned many times to work on the issues of human rights, land tenure, and Amer-Indian land rights; to work with women police and monitor elections. He was actively involved with President Jimmy Carter and the peace keeping initiatives of the Carter Center to assure free elections throughout the Caribbean, especially in Suriname, Guyana, and Jamaica. He served as a United Nations international election observer numerous times since 1990. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida and his M.A. from the University of Michigan. Over the course of his career, Dr. Brana-Shute taught in universities in the Netherlands as well as here in the States and lectured as a special consultant to World Wildlife, the World Bank, the US Census Bureau, and various branches of the US military. From 1991-1995, he was Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State. Increasingly in recent years, Dr. Brana-Shute was called upon to offer his expertise as a consultant to governments and international non-profit organizations on the Caribbean Basin, providing recommendations and pragmatic guidance on issues as diverse as local business development, militarism, and building democracy, a far cry from the early days of his career as a traditional anthropologist studying the folkways of the Caribbean peoples. Dr. Bana-Shute has a great love of the people and places where he traveled and worked. Outgoing and social by nature, he quickly made close and life-long friends of the people with whom he worked, and he thrived just as much exploring Suriname's rivers and jungle communities by canoe together with local acquaintances as he did with college students in his classrooms or with foreign service advisors. In fact, he is remembered by the Chair of the Western Hemisphere Area Studies of the Foreign Service Institute as "Mr. Caribbean." Born June 19, 1945, in Ossining, New York, the son of Vivian Shute and the late Monroe Shute, he is survived by his wife of thirty-two years, Rosemary Brana-Shute of Charleston; his mother; his sister, Nancy Paganelli; and two young nieces, all of Ossining. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, February 25 at 4:00 p.m. at Circular Congregational Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations may be made to Hospice of Charleston. McAlister-Smith Funeral Home at 150 Wentworth St. is serving the Brana-Shute family.


  1. I'm sad to learn so late of Gary's passing. He used to come to Fort Bragg to participate in regional studies seminars and his account of a visit to a gangland don in the bowels of Kingston, Jamaica was an unforgettable one.
    He was universally respected for his gifts of scholarship and wit.
    Steve Brown

  2. Thanks for your comment Steve. He was a great man.

  3. Gary and Rosemary were friends of mine at the University of Florida.
    When my first application for a dissertation research grant bombed, Gary tought me to rewrite my proposal in a different format. The result was that I won a Fulbright Fellowship to do Research in Mexico City.

    I'm saddened to learn of his passing. I truly owed him alot.

    Fred Shaw

  4. I am saddened to here of Gary's passing. He and Rosemary were friends of mine at the University of Florida,

    When my first proposal for a research grant failed Gary helped me rewrite it. The result was a Fulbright Fellowship to Mexico City. I truly owe alot of the good fortune in my life to him.

    Fred Shaw