B Camminga

Nov 6, 2023

Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa

Bodies Over Borders and Borders Over Bodies

Palgrave MacMillan 2018

Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies Over Borders and Borders Over Bodies (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018) 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 term 'transgender' transforms as it travels, taking on meaning in relation to bodies, national homes, institutional frameworks and imaginaries. This study centres on the experiences and narratives of people that can be usefully termed 'gender refugees', gathered through a series of life story interviews. It is the argument of this book that the departures, border crossings, arrivals and perceptions of South Africa for gender refugees have been both enabled and constrained by the contested meanings and politics of this emergence of transgender. This 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. In doing so, this book enriches the emergent field of Transgender Studies and challenges some of the current dominant theoretical and political perceptions of 'transgender'. It offers complex narratives from the African continent regarding sex, gender, sexuality and notions of home concerning particular geo-politically situated bodies.

B Camminga (they/them) received a PhD from the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), University of Cape Town, in 2016. They have since held a postdoctoral fellowship at the African Centre for Migration & Society, Wits University, and several visiting fellowships, including at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford. They work on issues relating to gender identity and expression on the African continent with a focus on transgender migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Clayton Jarrard is a Research Project Coordinator at the University of Kansas Center for Research, contributing to initiatives at the nexus of research, policy implementation, and community efforts. His scholarly engagement spans the subject areas of Cultural Anthropology, Queer Studies, Disability Studies, Mad Studies, and Religious Studies. Clayton is also a host for the Un/Livable Cultures podcast.

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Clayton Jarrard

Clayton Jarrard is a Research Project Coordinator at the University of Kansas Center for Research, contributing to initiatives at the nexus of research, policy implementation, and community efforts. His scholarly engagement spans the subject areas of Cultural Anthropology, Queer Studies, Disability Studies, Mad Studies, and Religious Studies. Clayton is also a host for the Un/Livable Cultures podcast.

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