Professor Shahid Vawda

Shahid Vawda graduated from the universities of Durban-Westville (BA), Queens (Belfast)(MA) and KwaZulu-Natal (PhD). Before taking up academic positions he worked in the trade union movement and at the educational NGO, the SACHED Trust in the 1980s, and as consultant researcher for the post-1994 local, provincial and national governments (land reform, housing, informal settlements, forestry re-structuring and heritage). His academic teaching and research has been at various universities in South Africa, some African countries and abroad, including participation in some UNESCO and International Council of Museums (ICOM) research workshops related to culture, heritage and diversity. He held positions as head of the departments of Anthropology at the Universities of Durban-Westville and Witwatersrand, and was the Head of the School of Social Science at the University of Witwatersrand.  He has been active on the boards of the International Council of Museums committee for history and archaeology (ICMAH), and the local South Africa ICOM committee, the Public Affairs Research Institute, Centre for Critical Diversity Studies, African Centre for Migration and Society and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and was part of the Department of Science and Technology team that inaugurates from 2018 the MA in e-Science Research for Humanities. Currently he holds the Archie Mafeje Chair in Critical Humanities and the directorship of the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics.


Completed research projects have included themes and topics on  the following:

The history of trade unions; trade unions in the 1980s; opposition and resistance politics in Natal; colonial and Islamic financial institutions and development; land reform and white farmers; livelihoods and land reform; traditional authorities; informal settlements and government policy; urbanisation and migration;  culture, heritage and museums; religion, race, ethnicity and class. 


Publications have appeared as journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, and professional technical reports.


Recent Publications

(Forthcoming) Muslim Migrants and Identities Annual Review of Islam in Africa

 Whose knowledge? The politics of scholarship in South(ern) Africa: A critical review of Inside African Anthropology. South African Journal of Science, 2016;112 (1/2), http://dx.doi. org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0142 <>

Introduction:  Museums and the Idea of Historical Progress. Conference proceedings of the COMSOL/ICMAH 2012 conference, Iziko Museums.   Edited with Rooksana Omar, Bongani Ndhlovu and Laura Gibson. Iziko Museums and ICOM-SA, Cape Town, 2014

Cultural policy as Utopia in Museums and the Idea of Historical Progress Conference proceedings of the COMSOL/ICMAH 2012 conference, Iziko Museums, South Africa, 2014.

A matter of differences: researching race, ethnicity and class Education as Change: Journal of Curriculum Research, Volume 17, Number 2, 2013 


Interests and Current Research Projects

  • The Afro-Asia project: musical, objects, ideas, trade and people migrations: 700-2000 AD
  • World Systems, Modernity and Decoloniality
  • Ideas, knowledge and power
  • Alterity and Mimesis in a post-colonial period
  • Urbanisation and migration


Consultation Times

8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, by appointment.


Contact Details

Office address: Room 22, Beattie Building, University Avenue, UCT Upper Campus

Telephone: +27 (0)21 650 5320

Email address: