Nolwazi Mkhwanazi

Nolwazi Mkhwanazi

Nolwazi has carried out research in Southern Africa since 1999. Her research follows two threads. The first is concerned with the lives of young people, particularly in relation to gendered identities, sexuality, reproduction, intimacy, kinship, and care. She has conducted research on young people’s use of digital technologies to initiate, maintain and disrupt relationships of intimacy. A second project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, explored how young people frame, perceive and experience sexuality and whether this has an impact on their uptake of sexual health interventions. A third project explores how particular kinds of urban living forms affect sexual and intimate practices. The second thread of her research is concerned with health interventions and health education in Africa. Under this thread she has conducted research on the medical male circumcision campaign in Swaziland and on sexuality education in Botswana. She is interested in ideas about global health and the ideas that underpin health interventions. She is senior lecturer in Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand and senior researcher and director of the Medical Humanities program at the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research (WiSER). She received her Master’s (2000) and PhD (2005) from the University of Cambridge and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town (2005-2006). She currently supervises six PhD students at the University of the Witwatersrand and one student at the University of Cape Town.

Current position
Senior Lecturer in Anthropology & Senior Researcher at WiSER
University affiliation
University of the Witwatersrand


Nolwazi’s current focus is on life course, kinship and care in South Africa. She is interested in exploring how families are constituted, how, in different types of households, people care for each other and care, particularly for children. Her current research project, is part of a larger project, explore the phenomenon of “enclaving”. Nolwazi’s focus on this project is on the question of inhabiting enclaves, in other words how enclaving informs the way people reimagine themselves as members of urban society. Her research looks at how upwardly mobile and established urbanites reproduce the logic of enclaving in their intimate and family lives.


  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi and Lenore Manderson (2020) "Connected lives: Families, households, health and care" Cape Town: HSRC Press.
  • Tsampiras, Carla, Nolwazi Mkhwanazi and Victoria Jane Hume (2018) "Inclusion, Access, And Social Justice - The Rhizomic Evolution Of A Field Across A Continent" in BMJ Medical Humanities 44: 218-220
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi and Deevia Bhana (2017) "Young Families: Gender, Sexuality and Care" Cape Town: HSRC Press.
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi (2016) "Medical Anthropology in Africa: The trouble with a single story" in Medical Anthropology, 35 (2): 193-202
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi and Ellen Block (2016) "Paternity matters: Premarital childbearing and belonging in South Africa and Lesotho" in Social Dynamics, 42 (2): 273-288
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi (2015) "Twenty years of democracy and the politics of reproduction in South Africa" in African Identities, 12 (3/4): 326-341
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi (2014) "'An African way of doing things': reproducing gender and generation" in Anthropology Southern Africa, 37 (1/2): 107-118
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi (2014) "Revisiting the dynamics of early childbearing in South Africa" in Culture, Health and Sexuality, 16 (9): 1084:1096
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi (2012) "A tough love approach indeed: Demonising early childbearing in the Zuma Era" in Agenda: Empowering women for gender equity, 26 (4): 73-84
  • Mkhwanazi, Nolwazi (2010) "Understanding teenage pregnancy in a post-apartheid South African township" in Culture, Health and Sexuality, 12 (4): 347-358