Popkin, Nathan (Politics, Sociology & Anthropology)

Nathan Popkin received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and his M.A. from Yale University. He was appointed as a visiting assistant professor at Simon Fraser University in the Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology (PSA) Department in 1966, and was offered a permanent position the following year. His research examined comparative politics, Latin-American politics, especially in Panama, American and Latin-American relations, and American constitutional development. He wrote the politics sections in three books on different Latin American countries – Colombia, Panama, and Bolivia – which were considered the standard reference works for these countries.

Popkin later co-authored a book entitled The North-West Frontier of West Pakistan: a Study in Regional Geography (1967) with David Dichter. Popkin, described as a quiet and shy man in the recollections of former colleagues and students, seemed like an unlikely champion of academic freedom. He was one of eight faculty members who went on strike during the PSA affair in the autumn of 1969; in his subsequent hearing he stated that the non-renewal decision in Kathleen Aberle’s case earlier was what motivated him to go on strike with and for his colleagues. He hired Michael Lebowitz in the Department of Economics to act as his legal counsel during his dismissal hearings and was the only faculty member of the eight to be reinstated. However, he was only reinstated for the balance of his contract and he left SFU in 1971. Popkin did not continue in his academic career. 

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