B Camminga completed their undergraduate and honours degrees at Rhodes University in 2008, majoring in history and politics.
Following this, they received a Chevening Scholarship to undertake an MA at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, University of Leeds, UK; and in 2012 was awarded a position as one of four Doctoral Fellows at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town.
Camminga situates their work at the intersection between transgender studies, queer studies and refugee and migration studies within Africa. Camminga’s PhD in Sociology from UCT is entitled Bodies over Borders and Borders over Bodies: The Gender Refugee and the Imagined South Africa.
Camminga’s research focuses on knowledge production and concepts of the everyday in relation to the needs of transgender and gender-transgressive asylum seekers from across Africa. In particular, they say: “I am interested in how transgender and gender-transgressive identity functions in South Africa and how asylum seekers come to access the country in order to find a perceived/hoped for notion of freedom and safety within the country’s borders.”
What is most interesting in these times and in Camminga’s work is the question of what it means to be gendered and sexed within this context, particularly in relation to the available rights and protections, not forgetting the global flow of information and human rights norms.
Camminga joined the African Centre for Migration & Society at the University of the Witwatersrand as a postdoctoral researcher in 2018. Their research interests in rights, migration, asylum and diaspora as they relate to transgender people from the African continent make them an invaluable contribution to ensuring the human rights of the trans community are not infringed upon.
They continue to explore themes related to the bureaucratisation of gender in relation to transgender bodies and asylum regimes globally; possibilities for mobility and migration of transgender identified people from across and within the African region, and the history of trans phenomena in South Africa.
They publish in journals regularly and a recent book project, Beyond the Mountain: Queer Life in Africa’s ‘Gay Capital’, with Dr Zethu Matebeni, explores the conflicting iterations of race, sex, gender and sexuality that mark the City of Cape Town. — Sifiso Buthelezi