Fieldguides for a Preternaturalist

Fieldguides for a Preternaturalist
 is a series of small chapbooks that bring collaborators, audiences, and readers together within the project Nothing of Importance Occurred: Recuperating a Herball for a 17th Century Enslaved Angolan Midwife at the Cape. Initiated by South African artist Wendy Morris, Nothing of Importance Occurred is an artistic project recuperating missing narratives at the Cape through speculative investigations of plants-as-archive and storytelling-as-method. It has as its focus the retrieving of a library of botanical-medicinal knowledge that might have informed Morris’s enslaved ancestor, Maaij Claesje of Angola, midwife in the Company Slave Lodge in Cape Town.

The investigation follows streams of contraceptive plant knowledge that flowed to the Cape through the bodies of enslaved women from Angola, Moçambique, and Madagascar, and from India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, as well as through the bodies of women emigrating from the Netherlands, and Huguenots fleeing France. The investigation traces practices already existent at the Cape in the healing ecologies of Khoi, Nama, and San women. Because upwards of four million Angolans were trafficked to the Americas, the project follows recorded practices among women there too. This project of recuperation leads towards a polyvocal Herball of contraceptive plants, the collaborative Fieldguides, and a part-fictionalized Return from Cape Town to the interior of Angola.

Nadia Kamies

Nadia Kamies lives in Cape Town. She writes for Reclamation magazine & Perspectives of a Perennial

Fieldguide Vol 1, 2022

Rachel O’Donnell

Rachel O’Donnell is a political scientist and professor at Rochester University, USA where she teaches in the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program.

Fieldguide Vol 2, 2022

Joshua Cohen

Joshua Cohen is a cultural anthropologist, with the Water@Leeds project, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, University of Leeds.

Johanna Lot

Johanna (Marianna) Lot is a member of the Plant Conservation Unit of the University of Cape Town where she assists researchers with data-collection and community liason and knowledge of the ecologies of the Kamiesberg.