Nadia Davids

Creolisation, Cosmopolitanism and Queerness in the District Six Carnival


Between Christmas and New Year's Day the streets of Cape Town are filled with the music and movement of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. A weeklong season of performance and celebration, the procession is the culmination of a year spent rehearsing songs, choreographing dances, and planning costumes. The Carnival's identity is entangled with the spatial and historical dimensions of urban Cape Town, performing the city's past dislocations and its geographies of loss. This presentation will reflect on the Carnival as to as an embodied expression of a creolized experience; one that understands trauma, migration, mimicry, and exchange —occurring at the intersections of loss and survival.



Nadia Davids is a writer, theatre-maker and scholar. She holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and, as an A.W. Mellon Fellow, has been a visiting scholar/artist at the University of California Berkley and at New York University. Between 2009-2016 Davids lectured at Queen Mary University of London and while there was a recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize for her research. In 2018 she took up an Associate Professorship in the University of Cape Town’s English Department. Her essays have appeared in the Mail and Guardian, the Johannesburg Review of Books and The Los Angeles Review of Books and her research has appeared in The Drama Review, Safundi, and The South African Theatre Journal. Her award-wiining plays, At Her Feet, Cissie and What Remains have been staged throughout South Africa and in Europe She has served as President of PEN South Africa since 2017 and hosts PEN SA’s literary-political podcast, The Empty Chair.