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Head of Inclusive Economic Development, Human Sciences Research Council

Professor Sharlene Swartz is Division Executive of the Inclusive Economic Development research programme at the Human Sciences Research Council, an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare, and a former Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. She holds undergraduate degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Zululand; a Master's degree from Harvard University and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her expertise and current research centres on the just inclusion of youth in a transforming society. She is currently completing a book on decolonising methodologies in educational research; is working on the concept of ‘navigational capacities’ for youth in adverse contexts; and is formulating the notion of ‘refracted economies’ as a tool for thinking about livelihoods and the future of work in a digital age. She has over 80 academic publications. Her books include The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies (2021); Society, Research and Power (2021); Ikasi: the moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth (2009); Teenage Tata: Voices of Young Fathers in South Africa (2009); Youth citizenship and the politics of belonging (2013); Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution (2016), Moral eyes: Youth and justice in Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa (2018) and Studying while black: Race, education and emancipation in South African universities (2018). She is the President of the International Sociological Association’s Sociology of Youth research committee, is a nationally rated researcher in South Africa and is the co-producer of the documentary, Ready or Not: Student experiences of South African universities.


  • –present
    Head of Inclusive Economic Development research division, Human Sciences Research Council


  • 2007 
    University of Cambridge, Sociology