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Pragna Rugunanan

Name: Pragna Rugunanan
Location: C Ring 634 Auckland Park Kingsway Campus
Rated Researchers  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: 011 559 4020


About Prof Pragna Rugunanan


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 an 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 Hons. Industrial Sociology, Rhodes University

B Soc Sci., Rhodes University

Research Interests

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

Selected publications:


Rugunanan, P. and Xulu-Zama, N. (Eds). 2022. ‘Migration in Southern Africa’. Springer Press.

Accredited Journals:

Maake, T., Rugunanan, P. and Smuts, L. forthcoming 2021. ‘Negotiating and Managing (Homo)Sexual Identities in Multiple Heteronormative Spaces: The Experiences of Black Homosexual Mineworkers in South Africa’. Journal of Homosexuality.

Rugunanan, P. 2020. Guest Editor. Transnational Migration, Gender and Sexuality in the Global South. Gender Questions.

Rugunanan, P.2020. Migration, Mobility and Transnational Families: The Case of Indian Migrant Women to South Africa. Gender Questions. Gender Questions 8 (1):#6519.

Meyer, C and Rugunanan, P. 2020. “Mobile-Mediated Mothering from a Distance: A Case Study of Somali Women in Port Elizabeth, South Africa” International Journal of Cultural Studies. 23:656-673.

Rugunanan, P. 2017. ‘“Fitting In”: Social Cohesion among Migrant Indian Women and Host Diasporic Communities in South Africa’. Alternation, 24, 1:170-196.

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.

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.

Book Chapters

Rugunanan, P. 2022. Migrating Beyond Borders and States: Instrumental and Contingent Solidarities Among Informal South Asian Migrant Workers in South Africa. In Rugunanan, P. and Xulu-Gama, N. (Eds.). Migration in Southern Africa. Springer Press.

Chiyangwa, B. and Rugunanan, P. 2022. Experiences of Mozambican Migrant Children in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga South Africa. In Rugunanan, P. and Xulu-Gama, N. (Eds.). Migration in Southern Africa. Springer Press.

Rugunanan, P & Hoffman, S. 2020. ‘Education’. In Sociology: A South African Introduction. Edited by Stewart, P. and Johan Z. Johannesburg: Juta: ISBN: 9780702188787.

Rugunanan, P. 2020. “Africa must be … one place, one country”: Xenophobia and the unmediated representation of African Migrants in the South African Media. In Reporting Xenophobia and Migration in the Media in Africa. Edited by Moyo, D & Mpofu, S. Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan: ISBN 978-3-030-61235-1;

Rugunanan, P. 2019. ‘Valuing/Belonging and Devaluing/Unbelonging in the Academy: An Intersectional Perspective’. In Black Academic Voices: The South African Experience. Edited by Khunou, G. Canham, K. Khoza-Shangase and E. Phaswana. Johannesburg: 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 by Jinnah, Z. and Hiralal, K. New York: Palgrave Macmillan ISBN 978-3-319-65783-7.

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.’ In Routes and Rites to the City: Mobility, Diversity and Religious Space in Johannesburg. Edited by Willhelm-Solomon, M., Lunez, L., Bukasa, P.K. and Malcomess, B. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ]. ISBN: 978-1-137-58890-6; pgs 137-166.

Rugunanan, P. 2016. ‘Migrant Communities, Identity, and Belonging: Exploring the Views of South Asian Migrants in Fordsburg, South Africa’. In Contemporary Issues in the Indian Diaspora of South Africa. Edited by Kumar, P.P. Delhi: Serial Publications: ISBN: 978-81-933190-3-1; pgs 52-84.

Rugunanan, P. 2014. ‘Education’. In Sociology: A South African Introduction. Edited by Stewart, P. and Johan Z. Johannesburg: Juta: ISBN: 9780702188787.

Rugunanan, P., Seedat-Khan, M. and Smuts, L. 2012. ‘A Sense of South African Indianness: Citizenship, Identity and Experiences of Exclusion at the Oriental Plaza in Johannesburg, South Africa.’ In Exclusion, Social Capital and Citizenship: Contested Transitions in South Africa and India. Edited by Uys, T. and Patel, S. New Delhi, India: Orient Black Swan.

Bolsman, C., Rugunanan, P. and Routledge, M. 2001. ‘History of Organisational Behaviour.’ In Transforming Organisational Behaviour – New Models and Methods for Southern Africa. Edited by Moerdyk, A. and van Aardt, C. South Africa: New Africa Books. ISBN: 1869283678.