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Mafeje Chair: Shahid Vawda

The Archie Mafeje Chair in critical and decolonial humanities is held by 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.