Monday, September 29, 2008

Sudhir Venkatesh on "Gang Leader for a Day"

~Author Sudhir Venkatesh reads an excerpt from his book, "Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets."

Sudhir Venkatesh became Gang Leader for a Day. First introduced in Freakonomics, here is the full story of Sudhir Venkatesh, the sociology grad student who infiltrated one of Chicago's most notorious gangs, studying a crack-dealing gang from the insider. Subtitled A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, Venkatesh's book describes how he managed to gain entree into the gang, what he learned, and how his method revolutionized the academic establishment.

Initially looking for people within a notorious housing project to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty, Venkatesh never imagined that as a result of that graduate assignment he would befriend a gang leader and spend the better part of a decade inside the projects under JT's protection, documenting what he saw there. His report is a brazen, page-turning, and fundamentally honest view into the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, often corrupt struggle to survive in what is tantamount to an urban war zone. And it's also the story of a complicated friendship between Sudhir and JT - two young and ambitious men a universe apart - Cody's Books

Sudhir Venkatesh's research is rooted in ethnographic investigation of urban neighborhoods in the United States (New York, Chicago) and Paris, France. His most recent book, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (Harvard University Press, 2006), an ethnographic study of illegal economies in Chicago, received the C. Wright Mills Award (2007) and a Best Book Award from (2006). His first book, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (2000), explored the social organization, moral universe, and history of a Chicago housing development, The Robert Taylor Homes.

His forthcoming book, Gang Leader for a Day, is a reported memoir (Penguin Press, 2008). He is also the co-editor of Youth, Globalization and the Law (Stanford University Press 2006) and Director of the Youth and Globalization Collaborative Research Network at the Social Science Research Council. He is currently completing a long-term project on sex work in New York and Chicago with the economist Steven Levitt.

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