Robert Gay's research focuses on democracy, civil society, and more recently, drug trafficking, violence and organized crime in Brazil.
He is an ethnographer who has spent the past thirty years doing field research in the favelas, or slum neighborhoods, of Rio de Janeiro. His first book, Popular Organization and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: A Tale of Two Favelas, (Temple University Press 1994) examines the ways in which neighborhood associations challenged longstanding, elitist ways of doing politics.
His second book, Lucia: Testimonies of a Brazilian Drug Dealer's Woman, (Temple University Press 2005) tells the story of a woman who became intimately involved in drug gang life during the 1990s.
His third book, Bruno: Conversations with a Brazilian Drug Dealer, (Duke University Press, 2015) is based on extensive interviews with a former leader of the Comando Vermelho, Brazil's oldest and arguably most powerful organized crime faction.
His article, "Prisoner's Dilemma - Inside Brazil's Vila de Dois Rios Prison" appeared in Foreign Affairs in March 2015.
His research has been supported by a grant from the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies). In 2007, he was the Lemann Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.
He served two terms as the director of the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, CISLA and fifteen years as sociology department chair.
View the sociology department website.
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