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South Africa



Call for Postdoctoral Fellows


The Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, is seeking applications from recently or soon to be completed doctoral students who require a host for funding applications for postdoctoral level research. This is not an offer of funding but of an institutional base to enhance a funding application.

SWOP is a vibrant Research Institute with a strong local and international reputation, which provides a collegial environment, the opportunity to collaborate in research projects, international research networks and other activities.

Current postdoctoral fellows are Dr Jacob Mati and Dr Ian Macqueen.

‘SWOP has been a great host for me. I enjoy the deep intellectual debates that SWOP affords everyone in the team, either through breakfast seminars, internal seminars or other visitors that deliver papers.’ Jacob Mati

‘SWOP has provided me with a very supportive home in which to conduct my research. I particularly enjoy the emphasis on engaged research, which sees collaboration with partners outside of the university. We meet weekly to discuss our work and host regular seminars for the public and academics.’ Ian Macqueen


Applications should be consistent with SWOP’s vision to ‘generate a southern perspective on society, work and precariousness through the production of scholarly, engaged and innovative social knowledge’.

Applications should speak to one or more of SWOP’s research clusters and thus contribute to developing our research programmes.


The respective research clusters and co-ordinators are:

– The politics of Precarious Society – Professor Karl von Holdlt

– Mining and Social Transformation – Dr Gavin Capps and Professor Dunbar Moodie

– Decent Work and Development – Professor Eddie Webster

– Nature and Society – Professor Jacklyn Cock

– Gender and social reproduction

– Labour and social movements in Southern Africa


Enquiries can be directed to Miss Abnavien King at or to the respective research cluster co-ordinators.

While SWOP does not directly provide postdoctoral fellowships, it will support your application to the relevant funding organisation.

From time to time we post news of calls for postdoctoral fellowships on our website.



University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Call for 5 Postdoctoral Fellowships in Research and Social Justice (2 years)

An exciting new concept!

This postdoctoral program, generously funded by Ford Foundation, provides focused support for both research publication and concrete engagement with social justice issues and campaigns. You will be located at a Research Institute that combines cutting edge scholarly research with rich experience of supporting labour, women’s, social and environmental movements, as well as progressive government institutions, engaging in struggles to change the world we live in. You will have the time and support to conduct and publish research and lay the foundation for your academic career, as well as participate in an innovative social justice program. You will participate in a collegial and progressive community of scholars.


The Institute

The Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) conducts relevant and exciting research on work, labour and social movements, mining and social transformations, environmental crisis, gender orders and contestation, the informalisation of work, society and politics, protest movements, patronage and civil society, collective and political violence, and the challenges of citizenship and democracy. The Institute collaborates with academics, grassroots organizations and government across South Africa and internationally, and is a collegial, team-working organization committed to developing a new generation of researchers and intellectuals. It is located in the most vibrant Humanities Faculty in South Africa, in a university known for cutting edge social sciences research.


The Program

The Fellowship program will include mentoring by experienced scholars, training in writing and presentation skills, research opportunities including research funding, and the opportunity to discuss your work in a vibrant network of scholars. The social justice component will include critical seminars on the interface between academic research and public engagement, and include a social justice project linked to work in labour and broader social movements, grassroots organising and advocacy, public interest litigation/transformative constitutionalism, and efforts to progressively influence policy-making and legislative processes.

This is a full-time programme and is not compatible with other employment. Fellows will be expected to work closely with research staff, and to participate fully in the intellectual life of the institute. Each Fellow’s work programme will fit their specific goals, whether this means focusing on translating PhD research into publications, or undertaking new research and taking this through to publication. Candidates will explain how their own (completed or planned) research is linked to or has implications for social justice. It is preferable that applicants’ work should be broadly aligned with the thematic focuses in SWOP, which include:


  • extractive industries, labour regimes and rural transformations
  • precarious work and social protection
  • environment and society
  • democracy, violence, community formation, movements and citizenship
  • informalisation of work, society and politics
  • changing gender regimes.

The emphasis is on ‘broadly’, such that candidates are able to explore their own interests and adopt fresh perspectives.


Period of Fellowship:

Applications are invited from all continents. The Fellowships will start on 1 May 2015 and cover a period of two years. Fellows will receive funding of R220 000 per year plus medical insurance, and in addition substantial research funding. The second year is conditional on performance in the first year. Applicants must have completed and been awarded their PhDs (though not necessarily graduated) in the social sciences or related fields. There will be two calls for applications, the first closing on 15 December, the second closing 30 February 2015. Potential applicants who anticipate being awarded their PhD’s by 30 February should forward their applications for pre-selection by 15 December as well.

APPLICATION: To apply, please submit the following:

A detailed cover letter motivating your application, including a statement of your current research interests, its relevance to social justice concerns, and outlining what you wish to do with your postdoc Fellowship, should it be awarded to you. Also indicate what publications you might produce during your fellowship, and whether these are to be drawn from completed research or would require additional research.

A brief essay (2 pages) problematising the relationship between academic research and social justice activism, including reflections on your own research field.

A detailed and updated CV.

A copy of two recent publications, or two chapters of your PhD.

Names and contact details (including email addresses) of three referees.

Applications and enquiries should be sent to  or posted to Mondli Hadebe, Society Work and Development Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa

Closing date for applications: 15 December 2014


Further details:



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