In Memoriam: Sociology Professor Ben Crow dies at 71

Photo of Ben Crow
"Do not doubt the reach and influence of the work that you do." Ben Crow, 2017

Sociology is deeply saddened to announce that Professor Ben Crow, a longstanding faculty member in the department, passed away on Tuesday, April 9, following a serious illness. He was 71. He died very peacefully with family at his side.

We hope you will join us in keeping the Crow family in your thoughts at this difficult time, and in remembering Professor Crow’s dedication to justice and his innumerable and worldwide contributions to the field of sociology, his colleagues, and above all to his students. A memorial site is available to leave comments.

Ben Crow was a professor in the Sociology Department at UCSC from 1996-2018, and department chair from 2011-2014. Before becoming a social scientist, Professor Ben Crow trained and worked as an engineer in London and Africa, and was an activist and volunteer in South Asia. His PhD is from Edinburgh University in Scotland, and he also taught at the Open University in the UK and at Stanford and UC Berkeley. He conducted research on conflict and cooperation over international rivers in South Asia, leading to a book entitled Sharing the Ganges: the politics and technology of river development; on traders, township markets and the making of social classes in rural Bangladesh (Markets, Class and Social Change: Trading Networks and Poverty in South Asia); on global inequalities (The UC Atlas of Global Inequality (online) and The Atlas of Global Inequalities, with Suresh Lodha). His most recent work studied how poor women, men and children gain access to water in urban slums in the global south, with a focus on cities in Kenya; and a comparative study of four cities to look at ‘urban capabilities and the transformation of women’s work.’

More about Professor Crow’s work can be found at:

Watch Professor Crow's speech at the 2014 End of Year Celebration.

To honor Professor Crow’s work, the department welcomes contributions to the Jessica Roy Memorial Award Fund, a permanent endowment providing funds for graduate students pursuing studies on the equitable distribution of natural resources in international development, especially as that equity applies to women. The award, which is based on academic merit, was established in 2005 to honor the memory of Professor Crow’s sociology graduate student Jessica Roy who died in Kenya while engaging in dissertation fieldwork.

For more information, please contact Sociology Department Manager Jessica Lawrence at 831-459-2831 or

During this difficult time, please also don't hesitate to reach out to the department or campus resources. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can be reached at 831-459-2628.