Rich Benjamin is a cultural anthropologist who researches contemporary US politics and culture, specializing in democracy, social relations, space and place, demographics, and race. He is also a sought-after lecturer and a public-facing scholar often interviewed in international media. His essays appear regularly in public discourse, including in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Benjamin is completing a family memoir that doubles as a portrait of post–Cold War America. The project combines archival research, oral history, political analysis, and lyricism. Benjamin’s current research agenda also focuses on the nexus of technology, money, and society—specifically fin-tech, digital high finance. Benjamin’s next research project investigates the sociocultural dimensions of quants, flash trading, crypto assets, hedge funds, extreme wealth, risk, and what he calls “heterosexual melancholy.”
Benjamin’s first book, Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America (Hachette Books, 2009), was selected as an Editors’ Choice by Booklist and the American Library Association. Now in its second printing, this anthropological study is one of few to have illuminated in advance the rise of white anxiety and “Trumpism” in contemporary US life. Benjamin’s research has received support from the Bellagio Center, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Columbia Law School, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Ford Foundation, Princeton University, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. Benjamin earned a BA from Wesleyan University and a doctorate in modern thought and literature from Stanford University.