Peggy Levitt

Mildred Lane Kemper Professor of Sociology

Cultural and intellectual inequality, museums, decentered knowledge production and pedagogy, sociology of art and literature, migration, transnational social protection.

Peggy Levitt is Chair and Professor of Sociology and the Mildred Lane Kemper Chair of Sociology at Wellesley College. She is also a co-founder of the Global (De)Centre. Her latest book, Transnational Social Protection: Social Welfare Across National Borders (co-authored with Erica Dobbs, Ken Sun, and Ruxandra Paul) was published by Oxford University Press in 2023. Her current book project, Move Over, Mona Lisa. Move Over, Jane Eyre: Making the World’s Universities, Museums, and Libraries More Welcoming to Everyone will be published by Stanford University Press.

Peggy co-directed the Transnational Studies Initiative and the Politics and Social Change Workshop at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard Kennedy School from 1998-2020. She received Honorary Doctoral Degrees from the University of Helsinki (2017) and from Maastricht University (2014). She has held numerous fellowships and guest professorships including, most recently, at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency Program (2024), the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna (2023), the Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh (2023), the Institut Convergences Migration in Paris (2022), the European University Institute (2017-2019) and at the Baptist University of Hong Kong (2019).

Her earlier books include Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display (University of California Press 2015), Religion on the Edge (Oxford University Press 2012), God Needs No Passport (New Press 2007), The Transnational Studies Reader (Routledge 2007), The Changing Face of Home (Russell Sage 2002), and The Transnational Villagers (UC Press 2001).


My current research addresses two broad sets of questions: Cultural and Intellectual Inequality and Transnational Social Protection.


  • B.A., Brandeis University
  • M.S., Columbia University
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Current and upcoming courses

  • Does education in the United States encourage social mobility or help to reproduce the socioeconomic hierarchy? What is the hidden curriculum—the ideas, values, and skills that students learn at school that are not in the textbook? Who determines what gets taught in school? How do schools in the US compare to school systems in other countries?  What makes school reform so hard to do?Questions like these drive this course. It offers students an introduction to the sociology of education by broadly exploring the role of education in American society. The course covers key sociological perspectives on education, including conflict theory, functionalism, and human and cultural capital. Other topics include schools and communities; the role of teachers, students, parents, mentors, and peers in educational inequalities (including tracking and measures of achievement), school violence, school reform, and knowledge production. We also look comparatively at education systems across the world.  (EDUC 207 and PEAC 207 and SOC 207 are cross-listed courses.)