Kathryn Pillay

Kathryn Pillay

Position Lecturer
Discipline Sociology
Phone 031 260 2303
Email pillaykat@ukzn.ac.za
Campus Howard College Campus
Office Address Room F123, First Floor, Memorial Tower Building


  • (Undergraduate
    – PhD): BA (Majors in Psychology and Industrial Psychology);
  • BA Hons
    (Industrial Psychology );
  • MA (Industrial, Organisational and Labour
  • PhD (Sociology)

Teaching Interests

Diversity and Equity in the workplace , “Race” and Identity, Sociology of Social Issues.

Research interests

  • ‘Race’
  • Identity
  • Migration
  • Xenophobia


  • Erwin, Kira and Pillay, Kathryn. Forthcoming. The Power of Dreams: Young People’s Imaginings of Non-racialism, Racialism and Racism in South Africa. Stellenbosch: SUN Media
  • Pillay, Kathryn. 2017. ‘AmaNdiya, They’re Not South Africans! Xenophobia and Citizenship’, in Christopher Ballantine, Michael Chapman, Kira Erwin and Gerhard Mare, Eds. Durban: UKZN Press
  • Pillay, Kathryn. 2007. The Minority Report: Undressing ‘Indians’ in
    Durban. In Undressing Durban, Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan, Eds. Durban:
    Madiba Publishers.

Journal Articles

  • Pillay, Kathryn. 2017. ‘Perpetual Foreigners: Indian Identity in South Africa (1948-1994)’, Diaspora Studies, Vol 10 (1), 45-63
  • Pillay, Kathryn. 2017. “The Coolies Here” Exploring the Construction of an Indian “Race” in South Africa, Journal of Global South Studies, Vol 34 (1), 47-74
  • Pillay, Kathryn. 2015. ‘South African Families of Indian Descent: Transmission of Racial Identity’,’ Journal of Comparative Family Studies, XLVI (1), 121-135
  • Pillay, Kathryn. 2012. ‘Identity Construction of South Africans of
    Indian Descent through Cross-Generational Research and Biographical
    Methods,’ Loyola Journal of Social Sciences, XXVI (1), 7-24 

Membership to Professional Bodies

  • American Sociological Association (ASA)
  • International Sociological Association (ISA)
  • South African Sociological Association (SASA)



SOCY 301 – Contemporary Sociological Theory
Sociology has traditionally been conceived as a subject which is
concerned with society rather than individuals, and as developing
explanations which locate the causes of human behaviour in social
structures rather than the  psyches of individuals. But more recently
concerns with individuals, identities and agency have been put onto the
sociological agenda. The old demarcation between sociology (as the study
of society), and psychology (as the study of individuals), has been
rendered increasingly problematic. The aim of this course is to provide
an introduction to social theory and to demonstrate the value of theory
in guiding research, aiding understanding and challenging conventional
ways of seeing and interpreting the world. The course focuses on how
individuals and their relations with society have been theorised in
contemporary symbolic interactionist and social constructionist theories which straddle sociology and psychology.

SOCY 102 – Introduction to South African Society
In southern Africa labour migration in the late nineteenth century and
the twentieth century has accounted for the most important large-scale
movement of people. Although contact brought about by the movement of
people adds enormous value and diversity to the receiving nations, it
can also confirm difference and strengthen stereotypes
that we hold of people different from ourselves, as well as strengthen
our own sense of shared social identity that is different from those
with whom we come into contact. Immigrants, or more especially illegal
immigrants bear the brunt of xenophobic reactions more
especially violence, in South Africa. This 3 week section of the course
aims to explore the issues related to migration and unpack the concept
of xenophobia in South Africa. This course will ask wider questions on
the history of xenophobia in South Africa and to gain some insight into
the lives of migrants.

SOCY306 – Social Issues: Practice and Theory
Given the wide range of social issues challenging society, the sociological study of social issues raises passionate and compassionate feelings, but beyond such feelings it raises serious questions on ways in which to address its prevalence and help those that become victims indirectly. Since societies are differently affected by social issues, their perceptions and definitions will vary. It is in this context that some foundation knowledge on the study of social issues is necessary especially with regard to how it becomes defined as one, how it is constructed conceptually from different sociological perspectives, and how one goes about studying it and finding a solution. In order to gain a conceptual understanding of the different dimensions to the sociological understanding of social issues, the theme of poverty is used as a practical example and case study to examine its underlying causes, nature, extent, consequences and ways in which societies respond to ameliorating it.

SOCY 714 – Race Thinking and Thinking about Race
This module is an elective within the Sociology (Honours) programme.
The purpose of the electives within the programme is to provide
specialisation within a specific sociological field of study, and is
designed to critically address central social science issues
comparatively and theoretically. As such, this module addresses the
issue of racism and race thinking which is of central concern at a
number of levels within society, ranging from Constitutional commitment
to eradicate the scourge of racism and establishing a non-racial
society, to interpersonal interaction in everyday life. The intention is
also to examine and evaluate existing research techniques employed in
the study of racism and racialism in South Africa and in other

Graduate Supervision:

  • Ebert, Stephanie. 2015. MSocSci (by Research). ‘Exploring the Motivations of White Racial Justice Activists Involved in Education.’
  • Ngobeni, Joshua. 2015. PolSci (by Research). ‘The Politics of Student Movements: A Case Study of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus.’
  • Hlatswayo-Motsepe, Lula. In progress. MSocSci (by Research). ‘Exploring Financial Literacy Amongst First Year Students: A Case Study of University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus.’
  • Chamane, Sandra. In progress. PhD. ‘Sustainable Synergies and Integration in Crime Prevention Strategies.’
  • Govender,
    Subashini. 2013. MSocSc (by Research). ‘The socio-economic
    participation of Chinese migrant traders in the city of Durban.’