Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela's research is focused mainly on two strands of research. The first is exploring ways in which the impact of the dehumanising experiences of oppression and violent abuse continues to play out in the next generation in the aftermath of historical trauma.
For her second research area, she expands her earlier work on remorse and forgiveness and probes the role of empathy more deeply by engaging a perspective that makes transparent the interconnected relationship among empathy, Ubuntu and the embodied African phenomenon of inimba, in order to find a richer, deeper and more complex understanding of empathy that takes into account an African knowledge archive. Her critically acclaimed book, A Human Being Died that Night: A Story of Forgiveness, won the Christopher Award (2003) in the United States, and the Alan Paton Award in South Africa. (2004).