Janet Abu-Lughod

Janet L. Abu-Lughod (1928-2013), professor emerita at The New School for Social Research and of Sociology at Northwestern University, held graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined The New School for Social Research in 1987 with appointments in Sociology and Historical Studies, thriving in this intellectual environment.

She was first known for her pioneering books on Middle Eastern cities: Cairo: 1001 Years of the City Victorious(1971) and Rabat: Urban Apartheid in Morocco (1980). Her edited volume Third World Urbanization (1979) brought attention to this neglected topic.

After arriving at The New School, she published her best known work, Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350 (1989) and embarked on researching U.S. cities, a return to her early years at the University Chicago where she had studied planning. A collective project she led at The New School resulted in the volume: From Urban Village to East Village: The Battle for New York’s Lower East Side (1994).

After retiring from The New School for Social Research in 1999 she went on to publish major books on America’s global cities, distinguished by their historical perspective and their political concerns with spatial segregation and race: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America’s Global Cities (2000) and Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles (2007).

She was passionate and purposeful in pursuing her vocation, and dedicated to her graduate students as a mentor and later as a colleague. She served on the ASA Council, the Council of the Community and Urban Sociology section, as chair of the Political Economy of the World System section, and on the editorial boards of many journals. Both at Northwestern and The New School she worked on gender equity issues and helped found Women’s Studies programs. With her husband of forty years, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, she contributed to a greater understanding of the Palestinian experience, writing key works on demography, especially about the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 and their continuing exile.

In 1999, she was awarded the Robert & Helen Lynd Award for Lifetime Contribution to Community and Urban Sociology and the Award for Distinguished Career Contributions from the Political Economy of the World-System Section.