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Dr Isak Niehaus
Senior Lecturer

Marie Jahoda 139


After attending school in Oudtshoorn (a semi-desert town which is the centre of South Africa’s ostrich farming industry), I studied social anthropology at the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand. Since then I held teaching positions at the universities of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria; and lectured at several universities in Europe and in the United States. In 2007 I joined the staff of Brunel University. 

I have conducted fieldwork in two different ‘homeland’ areas of South Africa. From 1983 to 1986 I did research on the social effects of population relocations in Qwaqwa. This work was done in the tradition of anti-apartheid exposé ethnography. Since 1990 I have studied the escalation of witchcraft accusations in Bushbuckridge. My more recent South African fieldwork focuses on HIV/AIDS, masculinity, de-industrialisation and on anti-crime squads.


  • PhD Social Anthropology, Witwatersrand (1997)
  • M Soc Sci in Social Anthropology, Cape Town (1987)
  • B Soc Sci (Honours) in Social Anthropology, Cape Town (1984)
  • B Soc Sci in Social Anthropology, Sociology and Psychology, Cape Town (1982)

Newest selected publications

Niehaus, I. (2022) 'From Witchcraft to Satanism: Changing Imaginations and New Experiences in the South African Lowveld', in Kirsch, TG., Mahlke, K. and Van Dijk, R. (eds.) Domestic Demons and the Intimate Uncanny. London : Routledge. pp. 101 - 123. ISBN 10: 0-429-27358-4. ISBN 13: 978-0-367-22169-0. Open Access Link

Book chapter

Niehaus, I. (2021) 'Blaming the Father: Witchcraft, De-Industrialization and Generation in South Africa'. Anthropology Southern Africa, 44 (2). pp. 64 - 79. ISSN: 0379-8860 Open Access Link

Journal article

Niehaus, I. (2018) '‘Ethical Dilemmas in the Field: Witchcraft and Biomedical Aetiology in South Africa.’', in Robben, A. (ed.) A Companion to the Anthropology of Death. Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley & Sons. pp. 415 - 428. ISBN 10: 111922229X. ISBN 13: 978-1-119-22229-3. Open Access Link

Book chapter

Niehaus, I. (2017) 'Anthropology at the dawn of apartheid radcliffe-brown and malinowski’s South African engagements, 1919–1934'. Focaal, 2017 (77). pp. 103 - 117. ISSN: 0920-1297 Open Access Link

Journal article

Niehaus, I. (2016) 'Marriage, Kinship and Childcare in the Aftermath AIDS: Rethinking Orphanhood in the South African Lowveld'. Anthropology Southern Africa, 33 (1). pp. 42 - 55. ISSN: 2332-3256 Open Access Link

Journal article
More publications(13)