Professor of Sociology
Chair of Sociology Department
Joined Connecticut College: 1988
B.A., London University; M.A., Syracuse University; Ph.D., Brown University
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 twenty 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 long standing, elitist ways of doing politics.
His second book, Lucia: Testimonies of a Brazilian Drug Dealer's Woman, tells the story of a woman who became intimately involved in drug gang life during the 1990s.
His current research focuses on the Comando Vermelho, Brazil's oldest and arguably most powerful organized crime faction, and is based on extensive interviews with a former leader.
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.
Robert Gay has taught a variety of courses at Connecticut College, including Introduction to Sociology, Methods of Social Research, Post-Authoritarian Brazil, Perspectives on Development and Industrialization, Dictatorship and Democracy.
He served two term as director of the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, CISLA.
View the sociology department website.