Skip Navigation LinksThembisa-Waetjen Prof Thembisa Waetjen

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Prof Thembisa Waetjen

Prof Thembisa Waetjen
Department of Historical Studies
Associate Professor and Head of Department

Contact Details
A Ring 242
+27 (0) 11 559 2007


I teach first year Global History to 1500; a course on drugs and medicines; and post-graduate historical research methods.


My research focus is twentieth century South African political and social history with a focus on the cultural politics of drugs and medicines. I'm interested in the changing practices, relations and local meanings of drug use, drug control policies, and addiction treatment.

Recent Publications

The Politics of Narcotic Medicine in Early Twentieth Century South Africa  Social History of Medicine, 32/3 (2019).

Global Opium Politics in Mozambique and South Africa, c 1880-1930 South African Historical Journal 71/4 (2019)

Opioids in South Africa: Towards a Policy of Harm Reduction, Cape Town: HSRC Press (2019).

'Pharmaceuticals and Modern Statecraft in South Africa: The cases of Opium, Thalidomide and Contraception' Medical Humanities, 44/4 (2018). With J Parle and R Hodes.

'The Rise and Fall of the Opium Trade in the Transvaal, 1904-1910" Journal of Southern African Studies. 43/4 (2017).

"Poppies and Gold: Opium and Law-Making on the Witwatersrand, 1904-1910" Journal of African History, 57/3 (2016).

"Drug-Dealing Doctors and Unstable Subjects: Opium, Medicine and Authority in the Cape Colony, 1907-1910" South African Historical Journal. 68/3 (2016).

"Sputnik from Below: Space Science and Public Culture in Cold War Southern Africa" Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 18/5 (2016).

Schooling Muslims in Natal: Identity, State and the Orient Islamic Educational Institute. (Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2015). With Goolam Vahed.