Cite as: B Camminga and Ruth Ramsden-Karelse, ‘X as Unspecified:: A Reparative Model of Legal Gender Recognition in South Africa’, talk presented at the symposium Recognition, ICI Berlin, 23–24 May 2024, video recording, mp4, 17:00 <>
23 – 24 May 2024

X as Unspecified:

A Reparative Model of Legal Gender Recognition in South Africa
By B Camminga
Ruth Ramsden-Karelse

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:17:00
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Symposium


Constitution as a viable social subject is dependent on being recognized by others as such, whether that recognition takes the form of an ethical gesture, a political objective, or a legal instrument. The desire for recognition is therefore often assumed to be universal. For many activists and theorists, recognition of rights and identities has been at the heart of social justice movements, particularly since the 1980s. This is reflected, for example, in the ‘gay rights’ slogan, ‘recognize our relationships’. Yet, appeals to recognize what certain groups have in common tend to be made at the expense of more widely expanding the range of lives that might be acknowledged as possible and worthy of protection. Moreover, the identificatory categories through which rights claims can be made often fail to map onto the actual lived experiences of those they purport to describe, suggesting that becoming socially legible as part of a group can come at the expense of true recognition as an individual. In such ways and more, the demand for recognition is inherently intertwined with a dimension of conflict and often manifests as a struggle. This symposium aims to develop critical approaches to the concept of recognition, exploring the potential gains and losses when historically marginalized groups attain social, political, or legal legibility.


ICI Berlin
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Carson Cole Arthur
Alaa Badr
Berkant Caglar
B Camminga
Alvise Capria
Mariano Croce
Lisa Deml
Darja Dočekalová
Levi C. R. Hord
Anat Kraslavsky
Ren Loren Britton
Iz Paehr
Philippa Mullins
Stella Nyanzi
Arantxa Ortiz
Ruth Ramsden-Karelse
Natascia Tosel
VAMKY Collective
Simo Kupiainen
Melina Morr de Pérez
Lilja Walliser

Organized by

B Camminga
Ruth Ramsden-Karelse
Natascia Tosel