Raaflaub was born to Fritz Raaflaub and Heidi Ninck in 1941 in Cameroon where his father worked as a teacher and missionary. Returned to his Swiss home town Basel, he graduated at the University of Basel in 1970 and has been employed at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Since 1978 he is employed as a professor at the Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Raaflaub is married to Deborah Boedeker; they co-directed the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.
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