Zethu Matebeni

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Zethu Matebeni
Zethu Matebeni at the Nelson Mandela Gender Dialogue in 2014
Born1 May 1978
NationalitySouth African
EducationWits Institute for Social & Economic Research (WISER)

Zethu Matebeni is a sociologist, activist, writer, documentary film maker and Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape. Previous appointments include senior researcher at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at UCT.[1] She has been a visiting Professor Yale University and has received a number of research fellowships including those from African Humanities Program, Ford Foundation, the Fogarty International Centre and the National Research Foundation.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Matebeni was born on May 1, 1978 in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

She studied Sociology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) and completed her Master of Arts in Sociology at the University of Pretoria [3] and an interdisciplinary Phd[4] completed at the Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER). Her published doctoral project is entitled Black Lesbian Sexualities and Identity in South Africa.[5]

Activist work[edit]

Zethu has been involved in LGBTQ activism since the early 1990s. Having been part of Uthingo Womyn's group (one of the few lesbian feminist collectives in South Africa) and later part of Free Gender, a black lesbian organisation in Khayelitsha Cape Town. Within the academic space she has been involved with the #RhodesMustFall movement at the University of Cape as well as one of the founding members of the Black Academic Caucus at the same institution. Her films and curated works including Jo'burg TRACKS: Sexuality in the City, and a book project Reclaiming Afrikan: queer perspectives on sexual and gender identities similarly engage with LGBT activism. Her first co-production Breaking Out of the Box: Stories of black lesbians (2011) has been shown both within South Africa and abroad. Her work with documentary films also includes writing the short film Rise.[6]

Academic work and publications[edit]

She has published on queer issues, sexuality, gender, race, HIV and AIDS, African film, cinema and photography. She is an active member of the Black Academic Caucus through which she published a few thought pieces, some of which are listed below.


  • Co-edited [1] with Surya Monro and Vasu Reddy, Queer in Africa: LGBTQI Identities, Citizenship, and Activism (Routledge, 2018)
  • Curated Reclaiming Afrikan: queer perspectives on sexual and gender identities. Cape Town: Modjaji books. ISBN 9781920590499 (2014)[7]
  • Black lesbian sexualities and identity in South Africa: an ethnography of black lesbian urban life. Germany: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing (ISBN 978-3-659-20294-0) (2012)

Book chapters[edit]

Journal articles[edit]

Other writing[edit]


  • JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies, 26: 1-18 and 26: 128-134.
  • Agenda, 29(1): 3-9.
  • BMC Women's Health, 15: 22
  • Cultural Studies, 27:3: 404-417
  • Culture, Health & Sexuality
  • PLoS ONE 8(1): e53552.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053552
  • Agenda: Empowering women for gender equity, 26(3): 61-69
  • Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7(4): 283-297.
  • Cadernos Pagu [online], 35: 111-137.
  • PHYSIS: Revista de Saúde Coletiva, Rio de Janeiro, 19(2):333-348
  • Culture, and Society, 11(3): 347-354
  • Feminist Africa, 11:89-96
  • Health Promotion International, Apr 10; 18407925 (P,S,G,E,B,D)
  • Commonwealth youth and Development


  1. ^ "HSRC". www.hsrc.ac.za. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  2. ^ "Zethu Matebeni". Open Book Festival. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  3. ^ "Zethu Matebeni - Open Book Festival". Open Book Festival. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  4. ^ "Staff". huma.co.za. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  5. ^ "Black Lesbian Sexualities and Identity in South Africa". Alibris UK. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  6. ^ "Staff". huma.co.za. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  7. ^ Zethu, Matabeni (2014-10-25). Reclaiming Afrikan: Queer Perspectives on Sexual and Gender Indentities. Modjaji Books. ISBN 9781920590499.
  8. ^ Matebeni, Zethu. "Rape? Looks more like genocide". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2016-01-28.

External links[edit]