Janet L. Abu-Lughod is an American sociologist who specializes in social change and urbanization in the developing world. She was educated at the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts. She began her career as an urban planner and research consultant to organizations dealing with community development issues and housing problems. As an academic, she taught at the University of Cairo and Smith College before moving to Northwestern University. She taught sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she conducted research on urban problems.