Caryn Abrahams, a senior lecturer, holds a PhD in Social and Political Science from the University of Edinburgh, in the Centre for African Studies. She is also the Academic Director at WSG.
She completed her Masters, Honours and undergrad degrees at the University of the Witwatersrand, with specialisation in Human and Urban Geography. Before joining the WSG, Caryn was a senior researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory – a partnership of Wits University, University of Johannesburg and Gauteng Province – where she focused on social cohesion, anti-racism, urban inclusion, and urban food systems in Gauteng Province.
Previously, Abrahams completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Development Studies at UNISA, and was the research manager at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, a prominent civil society organisation concerned with deepening non-racialism in South Africa. At the NGO she designed an exhibition on Eight Decades of Kathrada’s Life, oversaw public discussion series, commissioned research and contributed to the Presidency’s 20 Year Review on Social Cohesion.
Before completing her doctoral studies, Abrahams lectured development and post-development at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Geography. She has guest lectured at the University of Edinburgh, Sociology, and taught a module on Sustainable Development at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Abrahams’ research and publications are concerned with two areas of work – governing urban food systems (the basis of her doctoral studies), and anti-racism and social cohesion (an interest that grew from her civil society involvement). She has published work on alternative food networks in the developing South, supermarkets and informal food markets, and the developmental imperative in urban food systems thinking. She has also published work on non-racialism, social cohesion, and has forthcoming chapters on the future of race in South Africa, and uncertainty and nation-building in South Africa in edited collections. She is the editor of and contributor to the GCRO’s Pathways to Anti-Racism (2016). Her interest in governance brings together these bodies of work – how food systems or societal interaction are co-governed by the interests at work, particularly by the imperatives of ordinary people.
Abrahams’ research is anti-disciplinary as it draws on a range of scholarship broadly in the social sciences – urban studies, development, economic geography, sociology, politics – but is not confined to a particular discipline. Her research interests and curiosities include anti-racism, urban inclusion, urbanity, urban food systems, urban society, Batho Pele governance, micro forms of governance, and localisation.
- Urban planning
- Intergovernmental relations and governance
- Local councillors and local politics
- Race, social cohesion and social change