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Professor Michael Neocosmos


Michael Neocosmos is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Humanities Research as well as Honorary Professor in Global Movements at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Ph.D. from Bradford University in Britain. He has taught at various universities in Britain and in Africa, such as the University of Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, the University of Swaziland, the National University of Lesotho, the University of Botswana and the University of Pretoria South Africa.  His main fields of research have included Agrarian Questions in Latin America and Africa, Migrant labour, Ethnicity, Citizenship, State and Civil Society, Political Transition as well as issues of Social Theory concerning Development, Democracy, Human Rights and Political Subjectivities.

Current Research Interests

  • Understanding Political Subjectivities in Africa and Social Theory
  • Emancipatory Politics in African History
  • Xenophobia and its Conditions


From “Foreign Natives” to “Native Foreigners” Second Revised Edition with additional chapter, Codesria Press 2010, 174p

From “Foreign Natives” to “Native Foreigners”, explaining xenophobia in Post-apartheid South Africa: citizenship and nationalism, identity and politics”. Dakar:  CODESRIA 2006, 150p.

The Agrarian Question in Southern Africa and "Accumulation from Below": Economics and Politics in the struggle for Democracy, Uppsala: SIAS, 1993, 80p.

Social Relations in Rural Swaziland: Critical Analyses, Kwaluseni: SSRU, University of Swaziland, 1987 (editor) 220p.

Books in Preparation:

Rethinking Politics in Contemporary Africa: book in progress

Translation into English of LAnthropologie du Nom by Sylvain Lazarus, Paris: Seuil, 1996 for RE: Press, Melbourne, Australia.

Selected Articles

“Analyzing Political Subjectivities: naming the post-developmental state in Africa today” forthcoming, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 2010. 

“Civil Society, Citizenship and the Politics of the (Im)possible: Rethinking militancy in Africa today”, Interface Vol.1, Number 2, November 2009, pp. 263-334.

“The Political Conditions of Social Thought and the Politics of Emancipation: an introduction to the work of Sylvain Lazarus” in H. Jacklin and P. Vale (eds.) Re-imagining the social in South Africa: critique and post-apartheid knowledge, Durban: UKZN Press, 2009. Pp. 111-138.

ADevelopment and the Limits of State Politics: rethinking emancipatory politics in Africa@ in A. Parashar and A. Dhanda eds.

“The Politics of Fear and the Fear of Politics: reflections on xenophobia in South Africa”, Journal of African and Asian Studies, vol 43, No 6, December 2008. Pp. 587-96.

“Development, Social Citizenship and Human Rights: re-thinking the political core of an emancipatory project in Africa@ Colombo, Sri Lanka: ICES Occasional Paper 2007.

ACan a Human Rights Culture Enable Emancipation? Clearing some Theoretical Ground for the Renewal of a Critical Sociology@,

ARe-thinking Politics in Southern Africa today: elements of a critique of political liberalism@, in N. Gibson (ed)

AThe Contradictory Position of >Tradition= in African Nationalist Discourse: some analytical reflections@,

AThe Politics of Elections in Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana: towards a comparative analysis@ in M. Cowen and L. Laakso (eds)

"Strangers at the Cattle Post: state nationalism and migrant Identity in post-apartheid South Africa" in M. Palmberg (ed.) National Identity and Democracy in Africa, NAI, Uppsala  Sweden, Mayibuye Centre, UWC and HSRC 1999. Pp. 287-327.

"From People's Politics to State Politics: aspects of national liberation in South Africa" in A. Olukoshi (ed.) The Politics of Opposition in Contemporary Africa, NAI, Uppsala Sweden, 1998, pp. 195-241.

"Towards a History of Nationalities in Southern Africa", Working Paper no. 95.6, pp.1-47, Centre for Development Research, Copenhagen, October 1995.

"Towards a Political Economy of Adjustment in a Labour Reserve Economy: the Case of Lesotho" in Gibbon, P (ed.) (1993) Social Change and Economic Reform in Africa, Uppsala: SIAS, 1993, pp. 134-160.

"The Agrarian Question and Class Contradictions in South Africa: some theoretical considerations" (with R. Levin), The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, January 1989. Pp.230-259.

"Some Problems in the Political Economy of 'African Socialism'" (with P. Gibbon) in Bernstein, H. and B. Campbell (eds) Contradictions of Accumulation in Africa: studies in economy and state, Beverly Hills: Sage, 1985. Pp.153-206.

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