- Category: TOW 2013
Prolific sociologist and activist Ashwin Desai, holds a Master’s degree from Rhodes University and a doctorate from Michigan State University. He is professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg.
Desai is an unusually prolific and wide ranging writer whose work has been published in academic and popular books and periodicals around the world. One of South Africa's foremost social commentators, Desai's work is internationally celebrated for its courage and clarity of vision and for its focus on the lived experience of oppression and resistance.
The Poors of Chatsworth is described as "in part, first rate sociology, then investigative journalism, then seething post-colonial writing" which is "indispensable reading for anyone attempting to understand contemporary South Africa".
The late enigmatic human rights activist Dennis Brutus writes about Desai's work, We are the Poors: "One of South Africa's leading activist intellectuals has produced a remarkable book detailing growing resistance to neoliberalism in post-apartheid South Africa. Desai gives a moving picture of desperate conditions in post-apartheid South Africa, where things have not changed for most of the people. But this is also a stirring account of a courageous fightback, the fight that is being globalized as we challenge corporate globalization".
In 2007 Desai co-published (with Goolam Vahed) Inside Indenture: A South African Story, 1860-1914. Subsequently, in July 2010, he published The Race to Transform: Sports in Post-Apartheid South Africa.
In 2012, Desai launched his latest intriguing book about the education of political prisoners in Robben Island, Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island. Offering accounts of the extraordinary courage of Robben Island prisoners who resolved to read in the midst of harsh conditions and the minimal books they had access to, Desai says, “any excuse for not reading goes against this incredible story.”
Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island, University of South Africa Press, 2012
The Race to Transform: Sports in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2010
The Poors of Chatsworth, Madiba Publishers, 2000