Professor of Sociology, University of Johannesburg

Ashwin Desai is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg. He previously lectured at the University of Durban-Westville, Workers College in Durban and Rhodes University.


BA (Hons) Sociology, 1983 Rhodes University
MA Sociology, 1987 Rhodes University
PhD Sociology, 1993 Michigan State University

Research Interests

- Sociology of sport
- Social Identity/ Social Movements

Recent Journal Articles

Desai, A & Vahed, G. 2016. The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Delhi: Navayana & California: Stanford University Press.

Desai, A. 2015. An Exploratory Critique of the Notion of Social Cohesion in Contemporary South Africa. PINS (Psychology in Society), Special Edition, 49: 99-113.

Desai, A. 2015. Between Rock and the Pavement: Through the Underworld of Durban. Acta Criminologica, Special Edition, 3: 210-221.

Desai, A. 2015. An Aerotropolis in Durban: Exploring the 'Satanic Geographies' of Fast Capitalism, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 26(3): 1-13.

Desai, A. 2015. Of Faustian Pacts and Mega-projects: The Politics and Economics of the Port Expansion in the South Basin of Durban, South Africa, Capitalism, Nature Socialism, 26(1): 18-34.

Desai, A., & Vahed, G. 2015. The Natal Indian Congress, the Mass Democratic Movement and the Struggle to Defeat Apartheid: 1980-1994, Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, 42(1): 1-22.

Desai, A. 2015. Indian South Africans and the Black Consciousness Movement under Apartheid. Diaspora Studies, 8(1): 37-50.

Desai, A. 2014. The Archi-texture of Durban: A skapie's guide. Madiba Publishers.

Desai, A. 2013. The Politics of Literature. Special Issue - Debating Neville Alexander, Education as change, 17(2): 181-192.

Desai, A.& Vahed, G. 2013. The May 2008 xenophobic violence in South Africa antecedents and aftermath, Alternation, Special edition, 7: 145-175.

Desai, A. 2013. Theatre of Struggle: Black Consciousness and Salisbury Island. Journal of Natal and Zulu History, 31(1): 101-116.

Desai, A. 2013. Master Coolie arrives: Indenture and the origins of Hinduism in Natal. Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology, 4.

Desai, A, 2013. South Africa: Between the Second Term and the Second Transition-A Second Sharpeville. Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 24(1): 73-83.

Desai, A. 2012. Reading Revoultion: Shakespear on Robben Island. Pretoria: Unisa Press.

Desai, A. 2012. Pyramids of the Twenty-first century? South African Soccer's World Cup Legacy. African Journal of Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance, December (Supplement 2): 1-16.

Desai, A. and Vahed, G. 2012. Chatsworth: Between Continuity and Change. Oriental Anthropologist, 12(2): 223-233.

Desai, A. 2012. Between the Lahnees and the Lightees: Chatsworth’s Underworld. Oriental Anthropologist, 12(2): 319-329.

Desai, A. &Vahed, G. 2011. Between Apartheid and Neoliberalism in Durban’s Indian Quarter. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 22(4): 43-49.

Desai, A & Bond, P. 2011. Prefigurative Political Ecology and Socio-Environmental Injustice in Durban.Capitalism Nature Socialism, 22(4): 18-42.

Desai, A.&Vahed, G. 2010. World Cup 2010: Africa’s turn or the turn on Africa? Soccer and Society, 11(1), 154-167.

Desai, A. 2010. After the rainbow: Following the footprints of the May 2008 xenophobic violence in South Africa. Review of African Political Economy,March 2010: 99-106.

Desai, A., Maharaj, B. & Bond, P. (Eds). 2010. Zuma’s Own Goal: Losing South Africa’s ‘War on Poverty'. Africa World Press: New Jersey.

Desai, A., Vahed, G. & Waetjen, T. 2010. Many Lives:150 Years of Being Indian in South Africa. Shuter & Shooter: Pietermaritzburg.

Desai, A. & Vahed, G. 2010. Inside Indian Indenture- special 150 years edition. HSRC Press: Pretoria.

Desai, A. (Ed). 2010. The Race to Transform: Sport in Post-apartheid South Africa. HSRC Press: Pretoria.

Desai, A. & Vahed, G. 2010. Monty Naicker: Between Treason and Reason. Shuter & Shooter: Pietermaritzburg.

Desai, A.,Padayachee,V., Reddy, K and Vahed, G. 2003. Blacks in Whites: A Century of Black Cricket in KwaZulu-Natal. University of Natal Press: Pietermaritzburg.

Desai, A. 2002. We are the Poors: Community Struggles in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Monthly Review Press: New York.

Select Chapters in Books

Desai, A. 2013. Uneven and combined Marxism within South Africa’s urban social movements (with Trevor Ngwane and Patrick Bond) in M. Williams and V. Satgar (Eds). Marxisms in the 21st Century: Crisis, Critique and Struggle. Wits University Press: Johannesburg.

Desai, A. & Vahed, G. 2012.‘Indenture and Indianness in South Africa, 1860–1913,’ In S. Patel and T. Uys (Eds), Contemporary India and South Africa: Legacies, Identities and Dilemmas, Routledge: New Delhi.

Desai, A.& Walsh, S. 2010.Knowledge & Power in South Africa: Xenophobia and survival in the post-apartheid state in A. Choudry and D. Kapoor (Eds),Global Perspectives on Social Movements and Knowledge Production: Learning from the ground up. Palgrave MacMillan: New York.

Desai, A. 2008. Citizenship and cosmopolitanism: football in South Africa in A. Habib and K. Bentley (Eds), Racial Redress and Citizenship In South Africa. HSRC Press: Pretoria.

Desai, A. 2007. Shadow Boxing? COSATU, social movements and the ANC government in O. Lehulere (Ed), The State of Social Movements in South Africa. Khanya College Publishing: Johannesburg.

Desai, A. & Dunn, B. 2006. Explaining Uneven and Combined Development In South Africa (with Patrick Bond) in B. Dunn (Ed),Permanent Revolution: Results and Prospects 100 Years On. Pluto Press: London.

Desai, A. 2006.The Cape of Good Dope? A Post-Apartheid story of gangs and vigilantes. In R. Ballard (et al.), Voices of Protest. UKZN Press: Pietermaritzburg.


  • –present
    Professor of Sociology, University of Johannesburg