Casey Golomski: "Mandela's Nurse"

The Departmental Seminar Series features Casey Golomski, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Core Faculty of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of New Hampshire.

This seminar will be a hybrid seminar where attendees can participate in person or via Zoom. Join Zoom Meeting.


This is the story of Nelson Mandela’s prison nurse. The first sister of rank to administer care on Robben Island for apartheid era political prisoners, including Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Walter Sisulu, and Oliver Tambo, Mrs. Noeleen Zaayman worked for South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services from the early 1970s to the early 1990s.

Sister Zaayman is not mentioned in any of these famous men’s autobiographies or others’ accounts of the antiapartheid struggle, and we meet her here in the last stage of her professional career, that of head nurse in an unassuming, small-town, mixed-race nursing home. 

"Her's is a story of contradiction, of white women's non-racist positionalities twinned to disavowals of prevailing racist political orders. It is a story of how moral and medical quests to palliate suffering are twinned to the paternalism of highly institutionalized settings. Taken altogether, her story centers the primary aim of this seminar: to question and innovate possibilities for writing ethnography about race, gender, and the medico-carceral complex.  


Casey Golomski (PhD, Brandeis University) is a cultural and medical anthropologist and Africanist with strong interests in the humanities. Currently, he is researching racism and aging in South Africa and exploring how to innovate ethnographic writing.  He is the author of articles in Medical Anthropology, Transforming Anthropology, American Ethnologist, and numerous African studies journals, as well as the book Funeral Culture: AIDS, Work, and Cultural Change in an African Kingdom, by Indiana University Press in 2018. In 2019, he was awarded First Prize in the Society of Humanistic Anthropology Ethnographic Poetry Competition. He is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Core Faculty of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of New Hampshire and is an ongoing Visiting Researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Published Jan. 18, 2021 9:47 AM - Last modified Aug. 30, 2021 3:44 PM