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SWOP Staff

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Photo by: Akhil Verwey

Dr Prishani Naidoo



Prishani’s intellectual life has been shaped by her engagements in (and with) academia; political organisations; trade unions; social movements; community groups; artist, media, education and research collectives; NGOs; and other civil society formations. She graduated with a BA degree from Wits University in 1997, majoring in English and Sociology, followed by a BA (Hons) degree in Comparative Literature (also from Wits) in 1998. While at university, she was a member of the South African National Students’ Congress (SANSCO) and the South African Students’ Congress (SASCO), being elected into leadership positions in the SASCO Wits branch between 1992 and 1997, and forwarded by SASCO to various representative structures, being elected Vice-President of the Wits SRC in 1995, and serving two terms of office as President of the South African University Students’ Representative Council (SAU-SRC) (from 1995 to 1997). In this time, she participated in debates and discussions on the National Commission on Higher Education and the production of the first White Paper on Higher Education. Prishani’s first formal job, at Khanya College as a facilitator in its gender programme (between 1997 and 1999), saw her working with trade unionists, in particular with members of SACCAWU, NEHAWU, POPCRU and SAMWU.  Between 1999 and 2001, she was employed as Gender Programme Officer at the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s Southern Africa office. In 2001, she (together with Ahmed Veriava, Nicolas Dieltiens and Francois Lecuyer) established and coordinated Research and Education in Development (RED), a collective/consultancy that conducted research, facilitated education programmes and produced written materials for different organisations (between 2001 and 2008), including the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), the Rural Development Services Network (RDSN), the Environmental Justice Networking Forum (EJNF), the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Soul City, Wits Education Policy Unit, Ditsela, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Alternatives (Canada) and the Kwazulu-Natal provincial government inter alia. In this time, Prishani was also involved in the formation of the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), in which she was active between 2000 and 2006, assuming the role of its Research Co-ordinator in 2002, and the Independent Media Centre (IMC) (Indymedia) of South Africa, which she co-ordinated nationally between 2001 and 2003. In 2004, she returned to academia when she was invited into an MA programme in Development Studies at the Centre for Civil Society in Kwazulu-Natal. Her MA was upgraded to a PhD, which was awarded to her in 2011. In 2008, she began lecturing in the Sociology Department at Wits. Prishani’s research interests include questions related to political subjectivity, resistance, social movements, labour, poverty, neoliberalism and higher education. She is currently working on a book manuscript with the provisional title, ‘The Subject of Poverty. Protest, Policy and Politics in South Africa after 1994’.


office: 27 11 717 4464

Karl von Holdt

Prof Karl von Holdt

Senior Researcher


Karl von Holdt has had a long and distinguished history of political engagement and scholarship. He was editor of the South African Labor Bulletin, at a time when labor was dictating the movement of South African society. He has worked for NALEDI, the policy institute of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions), and served as coordinator of COSATU’s Commission on the Future of Trade Unions (1996-7).


Most recently he served as labor’s representative on the National Planning Commission of South Africa. His many publications include Transition From Below: Forging Trade Unionism and Workplace Change in South Africa, one of the most important analyses of South Africa’s transition to democracy.


With Michael Burawoy he co-authored Conversations with Bourdieu: The Johannesburg Moment (2012). His current research includes the functioning of state institutions, collective violence and associational life, violent democracy, citizenship and civil society. Von Holdt is a member of ISA Research Committee on Labour Movements (RC44).


office: 27 11 717 4464

Publications & Presentations


Transition From Below: Forging Trade Unionism and Workplace Change in South Africa


Conversations with Bourdieu: The Johannesburg Moment (2012)

Lucinda Becorny 

Operations Manager

Lucinda joined SWOP in May 2017. She holds a Business Administration Degree from the University of Johannesburg. She is tasked with heading the Administration and Financial direction of the Institute. She manages all the projects within SWOP, administration staff and post-graduate students.


office: 27 11 717 4464


Prof Emeritus Jacklyn Cock


Professor Emerita in Sociology and Honorary Research Professor

BA (Hons), PhD (Rhodes)


Professor Cock has published widely on issues relating to gender, environmental and militarisation issues. Her best known works are Maids and Madams: A Study in the Politics of Exploitation (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1989); Going Green: People, Politics and the Environment (co-edited with Eddie Koch) (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1991); Colonels and Cadres: War and Gender in South Africa (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1991); From Defence to Development: The Redirection of Military Resources in South Africa (edited with P. McKenzie) (Cape Town: David Phillip, 1998); Rainbow Nations and Melting Pots: Conversations about Difference and Disadvantage (with A. Bernstein) (Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2002); and most recently The War Against Ourselves: Nature, Power and Justice (Wits University Press, 2007). Her current research focus is on struggles for environmental justice.

Publications & Presentations

Cock J, 2014 The Political Economy of Food in South Africa

Cock J, 2014 Inequality Consumption and Some Damaging Conceptions of the Modern in Contempora

Cock J, 2014 The Green Economy

Cock J, 2014 The Vocation of Sociology

Cock J, 2013  The Challenge of Ecological Transformation in PostApartheid South Africa

Cock J, 2012  Review of Michael Burawoys The Extended Case Method

Cock J, 2010  Corporate Power, Society and the Environment: A Case Study of ArcelorMittal South Africa

Bezuidenhout A & Cock J, 2009 A Gendered Analysis of the Crisis of Social Reproduction in Contemporary South Africa

Fakier K & Cock J, 2009 The War Against Ourselves: Nature, Power and Justice

Cock, J, 2007 Public sociology and the social crisis

Cock J, 2006 Throwing Stones at a Giant: an account of the Steel Valley struggle against pollution from the Vanderbijlpark Steel Works

Cock J & Munnik V, 2006  Connecting the Red, Brown and Green: The Environmental Justice Movement in South Africa

Cock J, 2005 Engendering Gay and Lesbian Rights The Equality Clause in the South African Constitution

Cock J, 2003 Public sociology and the struggle against corporate environmental abuse in Africa

Jacklyn Cock
Dineo Skosana
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Dineo Skosana

 Senior Researcher


Dineo Skosana joined SWOP as a researcher in coal-mine affected communities in October 2018. Her current research investigates forms of dispossession and resistance to coal mining and burning, as well as a just transition from coal to renewable energy. She explored the contestations over African grave relocations in a coal-mined area in Tweefontein, Mpumalanga for her PhD. She also has expertise in the subject of traditional leadership and disputes in South Africa. 


Publications & Presentations

Skosana. D, Buthelezi. M, Vale, B, eds. Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: Resources, Resistance and Respect, Johannesburg: Jacana Media, 2019

Skosana. D, Traditional leadership beyond 1994: Reflections on the survival of chieftaincy in South Africa and Vaaltyn, Mokopane, in Skosana. D, Buthelezi. M, Vale, eds. Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: Resources, Resistance and Respect, Johannesburg: Jacana Media, 2019.


D and Buthelezi. M, “The Salience of Chiefs in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Reflections on the Nhlapo Commission”, in Comaroff Jean & Comaroff John, eds. The Politics of Custom: Chiefs, Capital, and Culture in Contemporary Africa, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018

Skosana. D, “Protecting the dead: The South African National Heritage Resources Act in context”, in M. Christian Green, Rosalind I. J. Hackett, Len Hansen, and Francois Venter, eds. Religious Pluralism, Heritage and Social Development, Stellenbosch: Sun media, 2017


Skosana. D, ‘The Interface Between Tradition and Modernity: An Outline of the Kekana Succession Dispute and their Encounter with the Platinum Reef Resource Mine, New Contree, No. 67, Special Edition, December 2013, pp 83-96

Tasneem Essop


Tasneem Essop recently joined SWOP as an Assistant Researcher on the BRICS Politics project. Tasneem completed her Masters Degree in Political Studies at Wits University in 2016 after completing her Honours Degree in 2013. Her Masters’ research focused on the political party the Economic Freedom Fighters, branch politics and populism. Her current research as part of the BRICS project includes work on community protests and popular politics. 


Tasneem research interests include political organisations, social movements and popular politics. Tasneem has professional work experience in government and the NGO sectors. She is politically active and has been involved in movements both within and outside of the university.

Recent publications: 

Essop, T (2015). Populism and the Political Character of the Economic Freedom Fighters: A View From the Branch. Labour, Capital and Society, Vol 48 (1&2), p214-238.

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Tasneem Essop
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