About Nadia Kamies

Nadia was born and raised in Cape Town. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BSc in Occupational Therapy in 1984 and worked extensively with children in hospital, school and private practice settings. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town and a PhD in History from the University of Pretoria. Her writing focuses on the afterlives of slavery and apartheid.

Books have always been a large part of my life. I was raised with the mantra that they (the apartheid government) could take everything away from us, but not the knowledge we had in our heads. I also had a grandfather who was determined that I would be the first person in the family to attend university.

After completing my degree at the University of Cape Town, I worked with children as an occupational therapist and, later, as an aromatherapist and a yoga teacher for more than twenty years. I started prioritising my writing when I turned 50. My daughter was in her second year at university and my teenage son only needed me when he was hungry or wanted a lift. As I was already set on a life-long learning journey it seemed natural to return to university to complete an MA in Creative Writing. Unexpectedly, this was followed by a PhD in History. It was while I was writing a progress report after my first year of post-doctoral work that I remembered that all I had wanted to do in the first place was write!

Thanks to the PhD, though, I learned much about colonialism, slavery and apartheid, and this has given me a solid foundation on which to write my own stories about growing up in South Africa. Working on museum exhibitions exposed me to a different way of sharing stories in partnership with communities.

My writing is rooted in Cape Town where I was born and where I continue to live. My book, Off-Centre and Out of Focus, whittled down from my doctoral thesis, was published in South Africa in 2023 by Fourth Wall Books in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria. In 2022, my essay, Unpick, Restitch: Doilies, Medorahs and Labouring Plants, was published in Berlin by K. Verlag in partnership with LUCA School of Arts and Netwerk Aalst, as the first in the series, Fieldguides for a Preternaturalist.

I write regularly for the online platform, Reclamation Magazine

My thesis, Shame and Respectability: A Narrative Inquiry into Cape Town’s ‘coloured’ families through photographs, cultural practices and oral histories, is available online. 

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