Prof Brij Maharaj was born in 1957 in Merebank, south Durban, Natal (now known as Kwazulu-Natal - KZN). His father, Bhurma Maharaj, was a shop assistant at a grocery store on Prince Edward Street, in Durban’s Grey Street (now Dr Yusuf Dadoo) business district; his mother Sushiela Maharaj was a home executive. He completed his primary schooling at Merebank Primary and Alipore Road Primary. He matriculated at Merebank High School and then went on to study at the University of Durban Westville (UDW) and Natal University, now known as the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) following the amalgamation of these two institutions.
Brij Maharaj is a senior professor of geography and a B-rated NRF (National Research Foundation – South Africa) researcher in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa.
At UKZN he has served as Discipline Chair, Head of Department (HOD), Deputy Dean and Acting Head of School (HOS). He has received widespread international recognition for his research on urban politics, mega-events, segregation, local economic development, xenophobia and human rights, migration and diasporas, religion, philanthropy and development, and has published over 150 scholarly papers in renowned journals such as Urban Studies, International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies, Political Geography, Urban Geography, Antipode, Polity and Space, Geoforum, Migration and Development, Local Economy, and GeoJournal, as well as five co-edited book collections. He has graduated 60 Masters and PhD candidates.
He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. He is the Chairperson of the South African National Committee of the International Geography Union and former President of the Society of South African Geographers. He is a member of the International Geography Union’s Honors and Awards Committee. He was co-editor of the South African Geographical Journal (Routledge). He was also Consulting Editor of the Journal of Immigration and Refugee Studies. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Urban Affairs, Geoforum, Antipode, Indian Ocean Survey, African Geographical Review, Migration and Development, and South Asian Diaspora.
Prof Maharaj is a regular media commentator on topical issues as part of his commitment to public intellectualism. He was secretary of the Merebank Community Centre in the 1980s, which was affiliated with the United Democratic Front (UDF).