Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Political Science, City University of New York (CUNY) / The City College of New York

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, University of Chicago
Citizen Tsotsi: Violent Crime in Democratic South Africa

Post-apartheid South Africa's murder rate is amongst the highest in the world. Puzzlingly, the increase in violent crime seems to have started in the years immediately prior to and coinciding with the country's transition to democracy. Indeed, the coincidence between increasing violent crime and democratic transition seems common to a number of countries that have democratized since the mid to late 1980s. Scholars have noted this trend in Latin America, the former Soviet Union, and throughout Africa. While researchers are justifiably critical of the validity of crime statistics both before and after democratization, the connection between democratization and rising crime in so many places around the world is remarkable, if only because of crime's pervasive presence in these newly democratic public spheres. My research asks: Why has there been such a striking rise in violent crime in South Africa, and why has this increase coincided with the country's democratization? What can the South African case tell us about rising crime rates in other transitional democracies? To answer these questions, I propose to conduct 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the townships around Durban from October 2009 to October 2010.