Erin Torkelson

Doctoral Candidate
M.Phil. Trinity College Dublin (Literature); B.A. Arizona State University (Literature)
Social Welfare, Postcolonial Studies, Science and Technology Studies

My dissertation, “Bantustan Banking: Techno-Financial Incarceration and Social Welfare in South Africa,” explores the ways in which a preeminent, state-sponsored cash transfer program has become a means of dispossession in post-apartheid South Africa. My work explores the everyday practices by which poor, black and “coloured” South Africans, navigate their entitlements to social assistance against the pressures of expropriation built into the payment system. My work intersects with political economy, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and science and technology studies.

My research is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the John L. Simpson Memorial Fellowship, the ROCCA Fellowship in Advanced African Studies, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship.

In addition to my doctoral work, I am currently a board member of Siyakhathala Youth and a consultant for the Black Sash. Before coming to Berkeley, I spent seven years working for land and housing rights organizations in Cape Town.

Graduate Student Instructor

GEOG10 World Regions, Peoples and States / Jake Kosek (Fall 2017)

DS100 Development in History and Theory / Gillian Hart (Spring 2013 & 2014)

DS 10 Introduction to Development / Michael Watts (Fall 2014)

Selected Writings

“The World Bank’s Role in SA’s Social Grant Payment System.” GroundUp, 23 March 2017.

“Sophia’s Choice: Farm Worker has to Decide which Child to Feed.” GroundUp, 15 March 2017.

“Deductions from Social Grants: How it All Works.” GroundUp, 3 March 2017.