Sudhir Venkatesh

William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology

Columbia University

Sudhir Venkatesh is William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in the City of New York, and a member of the Committee on Global Thought. His research is rooted in ethnographic investigation of urban neighborhoods in the United States and Paris, France. He has documented criminal gangs and the drug trade, and has written about the dynamics of the underground economy.   Venkatesh received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University from 1996-1999, an NSF CAREER award recipient in 2000, and he holds a visiting appointment in Columbia University’s Law School.

His most recent book is Gang Leader for a Day (Penguin Press). Gang Leader received a Best Book award from The Economist, and is currently being translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, Polish, French and Portuguese. His previous work, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (Harvard University Press, 2006) about illegal economies in Chicago, received a Best Book Award from (2006) as well as the C. Wright Mills Award (2007). His first book, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (2000) explored life in Chicago public housing.  His next book, under contract with Penguin Press, will focus on the role of black market economies-from sex work and drug trafficking to day care and entertainment-in the revitalization of New York since 1999. Venkatesh is also completing an ethnographic study of policing in the Department of Justice, where he is currently a Senior Research Advisor.

Venkatesh writes a column, entitled "Underground," for The Daily-an Ipad-only newspaper. His editorial writings have appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. He writes for, and his stories have appeared in This American Life, WIRED, and on National Public Radio.

Venkatesh's first documentary film, Dislocation, followed families as they relocated from condemned public housing developments. The documentary aired on PBS in 2005. He directed and produced a three-part award winning documentary on the history of public housing for public radio. And, he recently completed At the Top of My Voice, a documentary film on a scholar and artist who return to the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia to promote democracy and safeguard human rights.