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Prof Pragna Rugunanan

Pragna Rugunanan
Prof Pragna Rugunanan
Department of Sociology
Associate Professor

Contact Details
CRing 634
+27 (0)11 559 4020
Auckland Park Kingsway Campus


Pragna Rugunanan is an academic at the University of Johannesburg. Her doctorate focused on the construction of migrant communities among African and South Asian communities in South Africa. Her research interests include the Sociology of migration and labour studies; changing patterns of work, social networks, and community studies. She has published on migration, gender, xenophobia, education and citizenship. She is a current recipient of a NIHSS Brics Mobility Grant and is a NRF Thuthuka grant holder in the post-PHD track. In 2016 she received the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development research grant. In 2012-2014, she was an NRF Thuthuka grant holder. Pragna has served on the executive of the South African Sociological Association, was a council member and is currently a working group convener. During her break from academia, she was involved in training and consulting for various manufacturing concerns under the MERSETA and for the Airports Company of South Africa, conducting large scale quantitative surveys. She was also the founding member and director of a research agency. Upon her return to academia, she has been involved in NRF funded research projects on Family, Well-Being and Resilience; Social Capital and Citizenship; Refugee and Migration projects. Her current research project focuses on 'Migration, identities and trans-continental linkages: Studying the Indian diaspora in South Africa'. 


D Litt et Phil, University of Johannesburg
MA Industrial Sociology (cum laude), University of Pretoria
B Soc Science, Rhodes University

Research Interests

Migration Studies, Sociology of Work and Labour Studies; Family and Well-Being, Gender and Education Studies  

Teaching experience

Sociology of Work and Labour Studies; Demography; Family & Gender studies; Group Dynamics;  Research Methodology, Power and the Workplace   

Academic Citizenship

Editorial Collective for Gender Questions

Invited as a plenary speaker at the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology (July 15-21, 2018) held in Toronto, Canada, paper titled "Migrating Beyond Borders and States among informal South Asian Migrant Workers in South Africa".

Appointed to NRF Evaluation Panel in 2016

Ad hoc reviewer for: The South African Review of Sociology, The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, Alternation, Gender Questions,

External examiner for the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Rhodes University, University of the Witwatersrand; UNISA, UCT,

Member of International Sociological Association (ISA) 2008-present

Member of the South African Sociological Association (SASA), 2008-present

Convener: Working Group on Economic and Industrial Sociology, 2012-2017

Local Organising Coordinator of the SASA Congress held at UJ, 2015

Council Member for SASA – 20112012; 2014-2016

Elected onto SASA Council as Treasurer – July 2009-2011

Business manager of the SARS Journal 2010-2011


Recent Papers and Publications  

Rugunanan, P. 2018. 'Valuing/Belonging and Devaluing/Unbelonging in the Academy: An Intersectional Perspective'. In Biographies of Belonging and Exclusion in the South African Academy. Edited by Khunou, G. Canham, K. Khoza-Shangase and E. Phaswana. Pretoria: HSRC Press.

Rugunanan, P. and Smit, R. 2018. 'Migration, Mobilities and Families: Comparative Views among Congolese, Burundian and Zimbabwean Female Refugees.' In Borders, Bodies and Boundaries: Exploring Gender and Migration in Historical and Contemporary Africa. Edited Hiralal, K. and Jinnah, Z. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rugunanan, P. 2017. '"Fitting In": Social Cohesion among Migrant Indian Women and Host Diasporic Communities in South Africa'. Alternation Special Edition.

Jinnah, Z and Rugunanan, P. 2017. Remaking Religion, Rethinking Space: How Migrants Are Transforming Ethnically Bounded Notions of Religion and Perceptions of Urban Space In Johannesburg. Willhelm-Solomon, M; Lunez, L; Bukasa, Pk; & Malcomess, B (Eds). In Routes and Rites to the City: Mobility, Diversity and Religious Space In Johannesburg. Palgrave Macmillan: London

Rugunanan, P. 2016. Migrant Communities, Identity, and Belonging: Exploring the Views of South Asian Migrants in Fordsburg, South Africa. In Kumar, PP (ed). Contemporary Issues in the Indian Diaspora of South Africa. Serial Publications: Delhi.

Kriel, E. and Rugunanan, P. 2015. Racial Integration among Students at the University of Johannesburg. Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology, 6(1): 45-63.

Smit, R. and Rugunanan, P. 2015. Transnational Forced Migration and Negotiating Emotions: The Case of Female Refugees in South Africa. Social Dynamics, 41(1): 184-203.

Smit, R. and Rugunanan, P. 2014. 'From Precarious Lives to Precarious Work: The Dilemma Facing Refugees in South Africa'. South African Review of Sociology, 45: (2):4-26.

Rugunanan, P, 2014. Education. Sociology: A South African introduction. Stewart, P. and Johan Z. (editors). Juta: Johannesburg. ISBN: 9780702188787

Rabe, M. and Rugunanan, P. 2012. "Exploring gender and race amongst female sociologists exiting academia in South Africa." Gender and Education, 24(5): 553-566.

Rabe, M and Rugunanan, P. 2011 "Is there life after sociology? Exploring the career paths of former South African academics in sociology" South African Review of Sociology, 42(3): 60-78.

Rugunanan, P and Smit, R. 2011 "Seeking refuge in South Africa: Challenges facing a group of Congolese and Burundian refugees" Development Southern Africa, 28(5): 705-718.