Professor of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape

A graduate of the Universities and Natal and Cambridge, Laurence Piper is interested in informal urban life in the global south, both economic and political, and the implications for citizenship and participation in democratic politics and institutions. Within this broad frame, issues of identity and inclusion, and violence and reconciliation are recurring themes.

Laurence Piper is Professor of Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape. With a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2000, he has published extensively on Zulu nationalism, the Inkatha Freedom Party and electoral politics in South Africa. His current research concerns new democratic theory and innovations, particularly new forms of participation in local governance and development in the global South Africa. Prof Piper is an NRF-rated scientist.


Research PublicationsPiper, L and Nadvi, L. (2010). Popular mobilisation, party dominance and participatory governance in South Africa. In L. Thompson & C. Tapscott (eds). Citizenship and Social Movements: Perspectives from the Global South. London: Zed, pp 212-238​​​​​

Piper, L. & Deacon, R. (2009). Too dependent to participate: ward committees and local democratisation in South Africa. Local Government Studies, 35(4): 415-433​

Piper, L. & Matisonn, H. (2009). Democracy by accident: the rise of Zuma and the renaissance of the tripartite alliance. Representation, 45(2): 143-157​


  • –present
    Professor of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape

Grants and Contracts

  • 2014
    Professor of Political Studies
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation