This rating is awarded to established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field who are recognised by their peers as having produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to ongoing engagement with the field and demonstrates the ability to conceptualise problems and apply research methods to investigate them.
The NRF rating system is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of researchers against the best in the world.
‘I am honoured that the body of work I produced has been recognised by my peers. I feel a responsibility going forward to continue to produce work that adds value to the discipline, and to the fields I research. I am also motivated to continue to work towards solidifying my national reputation and developing my international profile,’ said Pillay.
Her message to emerging scholars is to ‘surround yourself with mentors in the academy; people who will contribute not only to your growth as a scholar but who will also be protective of your emotional and physical well-being.’
Pillay added that, throughout her time at UKZN, she has had the privilege of ‘forging relationships with some of the most brilliant minds in the academy who selflessly devoted their energy and time to mentor me. My aspiration to pursue a career in academia was fostered by a few of the prolific academics that I had the privilege of being mentored by during my undergraduate and post-graduate years. Their methods of teaching and their ability to cultivate a dynamic research-led environment through the manner in which they engaged with the field of study, is what inspires me to do the same now.’
Pillay holds a PhD in Sociology from UKZN. Her areas of teaching and research include ‘race’, migration, identity, xenophobia and belonging.
Her most recent publication is the co-edited volume, Relating Worlds of Racism – Dehumanisation, Belonging and the Normativity of European Whiteness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), which unmasks and foregrounds the ways in which notions of European whiteness have found form in a variety of global contexts that continue to sustain racism as an operational norm resulting in exclusion, violence, human rights violations, isolation and limited citizenship for individuals who are not racialised as white.