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GLU Staff



Mr Ricardo de Sao Joao

Email ( or call 011 717 4443


Prof Michelle Williams (GLU Chairperson)

BA, MA, PhD (University of California, Berkeley)

Associate Professor

Michelle Williams received her BA (Political Economy of Industrial Societies and German), MA (Sociology), and PhD (Sociology) from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology and Political Studies at Wits (August 2005-December 2006). Her research and teaching interests include political sociology, development, social movements, anti-capital alternatives, social theory, qualitative research methods, and comparative historical analysis. She has published The Roots of Participatory Democracy: Democratic Communists in South Africa and Kerala, India (2008) in which she compares the political projects of the communist parties in South Africa and Kerala during the 1990s. She is currently working on a book project with Vishwas Satgar on cooperatives in the global political economy tracing the linkages from consumer markets to producer cooperatives. She co-edited with Professor Isabel Hofmeyr (Wits) a volume on South Africa and India. (Wits University Press, 2011) and a volume on new approaches to Marxism (Wits Press, 2013) together with Vishwas Satgar and is also editing a volume on The End of Development State? (Routledge, 2013/2014). She was a member of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa and is the chair person for the Global Labour University Programme at Wits. She recently co-edited a volume with Dr. Sarah Mosoetsa on Labour in the Global South (ILO Press 2012).


Prof Devan Pillay (GLU Deputy Chair)

BA (Unisa), PhD (Essex)

Associate Professor 

Professor Pillay has published extensively on issues relating to globalization, social movements, civil society, industrial relations, labour history, media and society, and contemporary South African politics. His PhD thesis was on Trade Unions and Alliance Politics in Cape Town. Before arriving at Wits in 2002, he was a Researcher at the SA Labour & Development Research Unit (Saldru), UCT; a writer for the South African Labour Bulletin; managing editor of Work In Progress; Director: Social Policy MA programme at UDW; head of research at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Director: Policy at Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). He was formerly Vice-President of the Sociology Association of SA; chairperson of the Global Change and Transformation Research programme at the HSRC, member of Broadcast Monitoring and Complaints of the IBA; member of Deep Mine Research Board; and a member of the Safety in Mine Research Advisory Committee. Devan has published in a variety of international journals, and is co-editor of Labour and the Challenges of Globalization: What Prospects for Transnational Solidarity (2008). Devan is a co-editor of the Sociology Department’s New South African Review, the first issue of which was published by Wits University Press in 2010.

Professor Sarah Mosoetsa 

BA (Hons) (Wits), PhD (Wits)

Associate Professor

Sarah Mosoetsa is the author of Eating from one Pot: Dynamics of Survival in poor South African households, Wits University Press (2011) and co-editor of Labour in the global South: Challenges and Alternatives for workers (ILO research publications, 2012). She is currently an executive member of the Global Labour University (GLU), chair of the post-graduate committee for the School of Social Sciences, and an Associate Researcher in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP). Sarah completed her PhD in 2005 at the University of the Witwatersrand in the Department of Sociology. She has previously been employed at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). She has published in both local and international journals including Labour, Capital and Society, Transformation, and Journal of Southern African Studies. Her undergraduate and post-graduate teaching portfolio includes courses such as economic policy, Southern Africa and globalisation, qualitative and quantitative research methodology. Sarah’s research interests are employment insecurity, experiences of unemployment, poverty and livelihoods, and intra and inter household dynamics. Her current research is on labour’s role in organizing precarious workers in the clothing, textile and footwear industries in South Africa.

Prof Karl von Holdt

BA (Hons) (Wits), PhD (Wits)

Associate Professor and Director of SWOP

Karl von Holdt is the Director of the Society Work and Development Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he has been a senior researcher since 2007. Prior to that he was at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)-linked policy Institute, NALEDI, and before that Editor of the South African Labour Bulletin. He has published Transition from below: forging trade unionism and workplace change in South Africa (2003), Beyond the apartheid workplace: studies in transition (2005) co-edited with Eddie Webster, and co-authored with Michael Burawoy Conversations with Bourdieu: the Johannesburg moment (2012). His current research interests include the functioning of state institutions, health system functioning, collective violence and associational life, citizenship and civil society. He was recently appointed to the first National Planning Commission of South Africa. Karl started his working life teaching literacy to trade union members in the hostels and informal settlements of Cape Town in the early 1980s. He has also served as coordinator of COSATU's September Commission on the Future of Trade Unions (1996-97), and as a Director on the Board of the South African Post Office (1997-2003).

Prof Noor Nieftagodien

BA (Hons) (Wits), PhD (Wits)

Associate Professor and Director of History Workshop

Prof Nieftagodien serves as the Chair of the History Workshop, is an Associate Professor in the History Department, is a member of the university Senate and serves on the board of the South African History Archives. His most recent book is Ekurhuleni: The making of an Urban Region co-authored with Phil Bonner. He also served on the editorial board of The Road to Democracy in South Africa Project and published articles on aspects of the liberation movements. He co-ordinated Development Studies at the university for two years and teaches undergraduate courses on African Cities and the Middle East. He is currently writing histories of Orlando West (Soweto), the Vaal Triangle and of the Chemical, Electricity, Paper, Plastic and Allied Workers’ Union.

Dr Seeraj Mohamed

BA (Hons) (Wits), PhD (Wits)

Senior Lecturer and Director of CSID

Dr Ben Scully

BA (NW Uni), MA, PhD (John Hopkins Uni)


My research focuses on issues of labour, livelihoods, and development in the global South. My dissertation, titled Development in the Age of Wagelessness: Labor, Livelihoods and the Decline of Work in South Africa, examined the role of work and wages in improving people's well-being in places where formal employment is in decline. My current projects include a collaborative effort to build a database of global social protest from newspaper reports, a comparison of the causes and consequences of emerging welfare state formations across the global South, and an examination of the role of public sector workers in the project of developmental states. I received a BA in Sociology and International Studies from Northwestern University and an MA and PhD in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr Prishani Naidoo

BA (Hons) (Wits), PhD (UKZN)

Senior Lecturer

Prishani Naidoo’s intellectual interests have been shaped by a search for ways in which knowledge production and the pursuit of ideas can contribute to effecting change in an unequal and unjust world. This has meant trying to understand the relationship between ‘academic’ and ‘activist’ modes of engagement and production, and interrogating the ways in which theory and praxis are understood, unfold and relate to each other. A closely related interest is in the possibilities for non-representational forms of political engagement in late capitalist society. Prishani has published on the South African student movement of the 1990s; higher education transformation in South Africa; the effects of neoliberal policies on labour, labour movements, and other social movements in South Africa and Mauritius; the emergence of new forms of organising under neoliberalism; the delivery of basic services in South Africa; new social movements in South Africa; the global justice movement or alter-globalisation movement; and poverty and ‘the making of ‘the poor’’ in post-apartheid South Africa; the latter being the subject of her PhD thesis for the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. She has previously been employed at Khanya College (1998-1999 and 2001-2002), and the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Southern Africa Office – 1999 – 2001), and has been a member of the collective/consultancy, Research & Education in Development (RED), since 2002. Prishani is a co-editor of the Sociology Department’s New South African Review, the first issue of which was published by Wits University Press in 2010