University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Sindiso MnisiWeeks

Professional Title: 

Associate Professor of Legal Studies


Thompson 228


Office Hours: 

Spring 2024: By appointment at


BA, LLB, Law, Philosophy & Language, University of Cape Town; MSt, DPhil, Law & Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford


Dr. MnisiWeeks's scholarship has combined research, advocacy and policy work on women, property, governance, dispute management, and participation under indigenous law and the South African Constitution. She is the author of Access to Justice and Human Security: Cultural Contradictions in Rural South Africa (Routledge, 2018), co-author of African Customary Law in South Africa: Post-Apartheid and Living Law Perspectives (OUPSA, 2015; 2nd edition forthcoming in 2023), and contributing author of leading South African law textbooks, South African Constitutional Law in Context and Family Law in South Africa (OUPSA, 2021), as well as the Oxford Handbook on Law and Anthropology (OUP, 2021). Dr. MnisiWeeks's current projects include authoring Alter-Native Constitutionalism: Decolonising ‘Common’ Law to Transform South Africa (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023) and co-authoring The Rule of Law in South Africa (Hart Publishing, forthcoming 2023) with Professors Heinz Klug and Sanele Sibanda. She and Dr. Georgina Ramsay are the Editors-in-Chief of the American Anthropological Association’s PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, on whose editorial board she also previously served. She is also guest editing a special issue of the South African Journal on Human Rights (2023) titled, 'Lost in Translation: Justice and Rights in South Africa's Many Languages'.

Dr. MnisiWeeks's work has been highly rated by the National Research Foundation of South Africa and she has received a number of awards, including the Women in Science Award for the Development of Rural Women through Science and Technology, as well as support from the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program and Social Science Research Council–Mellon Mays Graduate Initiatives Program. As a Rhodes Scholar, Dr. MnisiWeeks received her DPhil in Law from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and previously clerked for then Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town, where she was previously a senior researcher in the Rural Women’s Action Research Programme and maintains affiliations with the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, the Center for Gender, Security and Human Rights, and the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the the Boston campus where she also previously held a faculty position.

A social justice thinker and scholar-advocate, Dr. MnisiWeeks has written for the popular press on law and political economy, and indigenous rights and constitutionalism in South Africa, as well as issues of race in the United States. Her work has therefore featured on National Public Radio's PBS/The World and NHPR's The Exchange, the Nick Kristof Blog on the New York Times online, The Conversation (Africa)Africa Is A Country, as well as other media outlets in the USA and South Africa. Dr. MnisiWeeks serves on the boards of New Hampshire Legal Assistance, City Year New Hampshire, and the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Service at the University of New Hampshire's School of Law, among other not-for-profit organizations. She is also an active member of the Law and Society Association (headquartered at UMass Amherst) on whose 2022 Global Meeting's Program Committee she just concluded her most recent service.

Research and Teaching Interests: 
Legal Pluralism (Interface between Culture and Human Rights, Indigenous and State Law); Gender and Women’s Rights; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Colonial, Postcolonial and Decolonial Political Economy; Traditional Governance and Participatory Democracy; Human Rights and Human Development; Informal Justice; Land Rights and Property Regimes; Historical Sociolinguistics; Comparative Epistemology; Transdisciplinary Research; Community-Based and Participatory Action-Research Methods; Critical Ethnography and Mixed Methods; South Africa.

Area of Study: 

  • Public law


  • Legal Studies