Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa

queer studies b camminga book launch image

The Queer Studies Network and the African Studies Centre are delighted to welcome to Oxford Dr B Camminga to present on their recent book, Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies Over Borders and Borders Over Bodies (Palgrave 2018).

This first in-depth study of the lives of transgender asylum seekers from the African continent living in South Africa centres on the experiences and narratives of people it terms 'gender refugees', gathered through a series of life story interviews. It tracks the conceptual journeying of the term ‘transgender’ from the Global North— where it originated—along with the physical embodied journeying of transgender asylum seekers from countries within Africa to South Africa and considers the interrelationships between the two. The book explores, through these narratives, the radical constitutional-legal possibilities for 'transgender' in South Africa, the dissonances between the possibilities of constitutional law, and the pervasive politics/logic of binary ‘sex/gender’ within South African society.

B Camminga (they/them) is a Postdoctoral Fellow, African Centre for Migration & Society, Wits University. Their research interests include: transgender rights in relation to migration and asylum; the bureaucratisation of sex/gender; and transgender history in South Africa. Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa is their first monograph and they are currently working on a collection with Dr Zethu Matebeni entitled Beyond the Mountain: Queer Life in Africa’s ‘Gay Capital’ (Unisa 2019).

Following their presentation, Dr Camminga will be in discussion with Ruth Ramsden-Karelse, a DPhil researcher in the Faculty of English Language and Literature. A Q&A will follow.

After the event, the Pitt Rivers Museum’s major temporary exhibition Lande: The Calais ‘Jungle’ and Beyond will be open until 19:00 for viewing by attendees.


Please note that you will need to use the Robinson Close entrance off South Parks Road to access the Old Library in the Pitt Rivers Museum.

This is a public event and all are very welcome to attend. The venue is fully accessible. If you have any queries, please contact