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Award for Queer and Trans African Mobilities anthology

- Wits University

The book expands our understanding of the intersection between gender, sexuality and mobility in Africa.

Editors John Marnell and B Camminga in conversation with Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, co-founder and co-host of a literary podcast ‘The Cheeky Natives’

The Queer and Trans African Mobilities: Migration, Asylum, and Diaspora, an anthology of essays from the continent, has been announced as the winner of the 2023 ASR Prize for Best Africa-focused Anthology or Edited Collection. The recognition is from the African Studies Review (ARS), a prestigious journal of African studies scholarship founded by the African Studies Association. The award sponsored by Cambridge University Press, recognises editors and contributors to an anthology of original scholarship, interdisciplinary, that advances African studies in new theoretical and/or methodological directions.

Reviewers have praised the collection edited by Wits scholars – B Camminga and John Marnell at the African Centre for Migration and Society, for curating essays that “exfoliate the layers of cultural, emotional and political issues that confront minoritised subjects who cross various virtual and geographic borders in their attempt  to find home, solace and safety amidst the tribulations of a contemporary world” – Martin Manalnsan IV, University of Minnesota.

Launched in December 2022, the book unsettles migration studies’ geographic and conceptual centre; queer, trans, and gender studies – says leading migration expert Prof. Loren Landua. Of significance, the book also dispels the view that queer and trans Africans only migrate to the Global North thus enriching South-South mobility studies.

Editors Camminga and Marnell have welcomed this development adding that: “Queer and trans migration studies is still a very new area of research and so it is a great honour to have our work recognised by such a prestigious research association.

 “For a long time, sexual and gender diversity was considered a peripheral topic in African Studies and that makes the announcement of this prize even more special. It comes at a very interesting time. Right now, we are seeing escalating and coordinated efforts to undermine the rights of both LGBTQI+ people and migrants/refugees, not only here on the continent but also further afield. That is why we so desperately need rigorous scientific data that can inform policy and humanitarian responses to queer and trans displacement.”

The editors further thanked scholars who contributed to the collection and the queer and trans-refugees who courageously shared their stories, memories and hopes, often at great personal cost.

The prize committee described their decision: "We awarded the prize to this anthology for both its highly relevant subject matter and impressive erudition. The chapters are thoughtfully organized to create a cogent critique of the reinforcement of colonial assumptions through humanitarian actions, while simultaneously providing new insights into the drivers of displacement and migration for the purposes of individual freedom and escape from repression. The framing of the anthology, brilliantly conceived by B Camminga and John Marnell, as well as the academic strength and originality of the chapters, made this a clear winner. The committee appreciated that many different regions of Africa were represented and discussed, providing a truly broad and deep analysis of the motivations and pressures faced by LGBT Africans from across the continent," says the prize committee.

Queer and Trans African Mobilities wins award