The Routledge International Handbook of Intersectionality Studies 9780367545048, 9780367545055, 9781003089520

Intersectionality is one of the most popular theoretical paradigms in gender studies and feminist theory today. Initiall

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The Routledge International Handbook of Intersectionality Studies
 9780367545048, 9780367545055, 9781003089520

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Section I: Intersectionality and Its Travels
Section I: Intersectionality and Its Travels
1 Intersectionality as Travelling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues
Section I: Intersectionality and Its Travels
2 European Trajectories of Intersectionality
Section I: Intersectionality and Its Travels
3 Intersectionality: Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe
Section I: Intersectionality and Its Travels
4 Intersectionality from the Margins: Historical Subjects/Subjectivation in the Global South
Section I: Intersectionality and Its Travels
5 The Travels of Intersectionality in Latin America: Bringing the Desks Out onto the Streets
Section II: Developments in Intersectionality Studies
Section II: Developments in Intersectionality Studies
6 Intersectionality and Its Critics: Postcolonial-Queer-Feminist Conundrums
Section II: Developments in Intersectionality Studies
7 The Analytical and the Political: Situated Intersectionality and Transversal Solidarity
Section II: Developments in Intersectionality Studies
8 Intersectionality at the Macro-Level: Social Theory as Practice
Section II: Developments in Intersectionality Studies
9 Intersectionality, Global Patriarchy, and the Power of Feminist Performance
Section III: Debates and Critiques
Section III: Debates and Critiques
10 Muted Tongues, Disappearing Acts, and Disremembered Subjects: Intersectionality and Black Feminist Intellectual History
Section III: Debates and Critiques
11 The Quest for the Right Metaphor
Section III: Debates and Critiques
12 Intersectionality and Diversity: Same or Different?
Section III: Debates and Critiques
13 Entangled Genealogies?! Intersectionality and Abolition
Section III: Debates and Critiques
14 “Post-war” Reflections on Intersectionality: Arrivals, Methodologies and Structural Entanglements
Section IV: Analyzing Intersectionality: How to Use It
Section IV: Analyzing Intersectionality: How to Use It
15 Intersectional Iconography: Promise, Peril, Possibility
Section IV: Analyzing Intersectionality: How to Use It
16 Intersectionality and Health Inequality: Methodological Reflections
Section IV: Analyzing Intersectionality: How to Use It
17 Intersectionality as Critical Method: Asking the Other Question
Section IV: Analyzing Intersectionality: How to Use It
18 Quantitative Intersectional Research: Approaches, Practices, and Needs
Section V: Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism
Section V: Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism
19 Law and Social Justice: Intersectional Dimensions
Section V: Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism
20 On Intersectionality in Practice: Two US Socialist Feminist Organisations
Section V: Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism
21 What Can an Intersectional Perspective Tell Us about the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter Movements?
Section V: Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism
22 Social Movements and Intersectional Solidarities
Section V: Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism
23 Latina Activism in the United States: Intersectional Positions and Praxis. A Historical Overview
Section VI: Epilogue
Section VI: Epilogue
24 Who Owns Intersectionality? Some Reflections on Feminist Debates on How Theories Travel

Citation preview


Intersectionality is one of the most popular theoretical paradigms in gender studies and feminist theory today. Initially developed to explore how gender and race interact in the experiences of US women of colour, it has since been taken up in different disciplines and national contexts, where it is used to investigate a wide range of intersecting social identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination. This volume explores intersectionality studies as a burgeoning international field with a growing body of research, which is increasingly drawn upon in policy, political interventions, and social activism. Bringing together contributors from different disciplines and locations, The Routledge International Handbook of Intersectionality Studies maps the history and travels of intersectionality between continents and countries and takes up debates surrounding the privileged role of race in intersectional analysis, the ways in which intersectional analysis should or should not be carried out, and the political implications of thinking intersectional analysis and thought. Opening up new avenues of enquiry for a future generation of scholars and practitioners, it will appeal to scholars of sociology, gender studies, politics, and cultural studies with interests in feminist thought, social identity, social exclusion, and social inequality. Kathy Davis is Senior Research Fellow in the Sociology Department at the VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is the author of Power Under the Microscope, Reshaping the Female Body, Dubious Equalities and Embodied Differences, The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves: How Feminism Travels Across Borders, and Dancing Tango: Passionate Encounters in a Globalizing World. She is the editor of Embodied Practices: Feminist Perspectives on the Body and the co-editor of Contested Belonging: Spaces, Practices, Biographies, Transatlantic Conversations: Feminism as Travelling Theory, The Sage Handbook of Gender and Women’s Studies, The Gender of Power, and Embodied Practices: Feminist Perspectives on the Body. Helma Lutz is Professor Emeritus of Women’s and Gender Studies and acting director of the Cornelia Goethe Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. She is the co-author of Gender and Migration: Transnational and Intersectional Prospects; the author of The New Maids: Transnational Women and the Care Economy; the editor of Migration and Domestic Work: A European Perspective on a Global Theme; and co-editor of Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies, The New Migration in Europe: Social Constructions and Social Realities, and Crossfires: Nationalism, Racism and Gender in Europe.




Edited by Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz

Designed cover image: Shutterstock First published 2024 by Routledge 4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2024 selection and editorial matter, Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 9780367545048 (hbk) ISBN: 9780367545055 (pbk) ISBN: 9781003089520 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520 Typeset in Sabon by codeMantra

In memory of Hazel Adams Johnstone


Acknowledgements Contributors

x xii


Intersectionality and Its Travels


1 Intersectionality as Travelling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz


2 European Trajectories of Intersectionality Ann Phoenix


3 Intersectionality: Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe Kornelia Slavova and Rumiana Stoilova


4 Intersectionality from the Margins: Historical Subjects/ Subjectivation in the Global South Lyn Ossome


5 The Travels of Intersectionality in Latin America: Bringing the Desks Out onto the Streets Mara Viveros-Vigoya




Developments in Intersectionality Studies


6 Intersectionality and Its Critics: Postcolonial-Queer-Feminist Conundrums Nikita Dhawan and María do Mar Castro Varela


7 The Analytical and the Political: Situated Intersectionality and Transversal Solidarity Nira Yuval Davis


8 Intersectionality at the Macro-Level: Social Theory as Practice Maria J. Azocar and Myra Marx Ferree 9 Intersectionality, Global Patriarchy, and the Power of Feminist Performance Sylvanna M. Falcón




Debates and Critiques


10 Muted Tongues, Disappearing Acts, and Disremembered Subjects: Intersectionality and Black Feminist Intellectual History Vivian M. May


11 The Quest for the Right Metaphor Amund Rake Hoffart


12 Intersectionality and Diversity: Same or Different? Christa Binswanger


13 Entangled Genealogies?! Intersectionality and Abolition Vanessa E. Thompson


14 “Post-war” Reflections on Intersectionality: Arrivals, Methodologies and Structural Entanglements Nina Lykke



Analyzing Intersectionality: How to Use It


15 Intersectional Iconography: Promise, Peril, Possibility Jennifer C. Nash




16 Intersectionality and Health Inequality: Methodological Reflections Anna Bredström


17 Intersectionality as Critical Method: Asking the Other Question Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz


18 Quantitative Intersectional Research: Approaches, Practices, and Needs Niels Spierings



Intersectionality, Social Justice, and Activism


19 Law and Social Justice: Intersectional Dimensions Elisabeth Holzleithner


20 On Intersectionality in Practice: Two US Socialist Feminist Organisations Linda Gordon


21 What Can an Intersectional Perspective Tell Us about the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter Movements? Barbara Giovanna Bello


22 Social Movements and Intersectional Solidarities Ethel Tungohan and Fernando Tormos-Aponte 23 Latina Activism in the United States: Intersectional Positions and Praxis. A Historical Overview Celeste Montoya and Raquel Hernandez Guerrero






24 Who Owns Intersectionality? Some Reflections on Feminist Debates on How Theories Travel Kathy Davis






This volume was written while the COVID-19 pandemic was raging across the globe, making what was already a major project difficult nearly every step of the way. Authors who had initially agreed to contribute chapters dropped out and new ones had to be found. Those who stayed on board often had difficulties writing chapters with children at home, having to do academic work online, and the stress and anxiety of illness and, in some cases, death of loved ones. However, we made it, somewhat the worse for wear, but with great pride at having created this Routledge Handbook of Intersectionality Studies. There are many people who need to be thanked. First and foremost, our most heartfelt thanks to the contributors for their hard work under difficult circumstances, their willingness to take our suggestions on board, and their patience with the delays when we lost some of our authors and had to recruit new ones. Many thanks, especially, to the later contributors who enthusiastically agreed to participate and in record time created such wonderful chapters. A special thanks to one of our earliest authors, Niels Spierings, for never having to be reminded and never complaining even when he had to wait for more than two years before his chapter could be published. We would also like to express our gratitude to those of you who sent us such warm and encouraging notes along the way. It made what for us was an arduous and often frustrating process infinitely easier and reminded us why the project was important. A word of thanks to those who gave us helpful suggestions for possible contributors: Nikita Dhawan, Amund Rake Hoffart, Elisabeth Holzleithner, Ann Phoenix, and Dubravka Zarkov. Hazel Johnstone, who was responsible for managing the copy editing, passed away while this book was in production. Her untimely and tragic death came less than a year after the death of her partner Ralph Kinnear who had been doing most of the editing. In the midst of her own terrible loss, Hazel put together a team and they finished the job. Rebecca White did most of the editing, Jamie Kinnear Timson, Jordan Mulligan, and Hazel double checked every submission, and Jas Chahal ensured that the formatting was up to par. Our thanks to all of you. We have dedicated this book to Hazel who we can no longer thank, but who we will always remember with the deepest respect and gratitude.



Neil Jordan of Routledge has been the perfect editor. He was encouraging and helpful with suggestions that were always useful and to the point. He was invariably understanding about our pandemic problems and delays in getting the handbook finished. And, a special word of appreciation is in order for his unique ability to answer every email just minutes after it has been sent. We would also like to thank Gemma Rogers of Routledge for making sure the production process ran smoothly and efficiently. The epilogue of the book is reprinted with permission from Sage, originally: Davis, K. (2020). Who owns intersectionality? Some reflections on feminist debates on how theories travel. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 27(2), 113–127. 1350506819892659



Maria J. Azocar (PhD in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a Research Analyst at Fundación SOL and Adjunct Professor at the University of Diego Portales, Chile. Maria´s research interests are at the intersection of the sociology of expertise and labour, feminist, and queer studies. She was the co-chair of the Gender and Feminist Studies section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). As a feminist and queer woman, she has worked on artivist projects with queer communities in Chile and Latinx communities in the United States. Currently she is working on pension activism in Chile. Barbara Giovanna Bello is currently an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy of Law at the Tuscia University (Italy). She co-coordinates the WG “Gender, Law and Society” of the Research Committee of Sociology of Law and, among others, she authored the volumes “Intersectionalità. Teorie e pratiche tra diritto e società” (Franco Angeli, Milan, 2020) and “Dal margine al centro? I giovani tra diritto e pratiche sociali” (Mucchi, Modena, 2021). Christa Binswanger is Senior Lecturer and Professor for Gender and Diversity Studies at the University of St.Gallen in Switzerland, where she directs the Gender and Diversity Department at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS). Her teaching and research focus on Gender, Diversity, Intersectionality, Care Economies, Affect Studies, Masculinities and Femininities, Body Politics, Inclusive Language, and Sexuality. At her university, as a member of the Contextual Studies steering committee she is responsible for the teaching programme at her school. She is vice-president of the Equal Opportunities Committee and co-director of a project on Social Sustainability at the University of St.Gallen. In the CEMSprogramme, she is part of the international teaching team on “Gender and Diversity”. In the Swiss context, she is co-president of the Swiss Think Tank Gender and Diversity that is coordinating the “forum” of 28 projects that aim at enhancing equal opportunities throughout Swiss higher education institutions. Her recent publications include: Sexualität – Geschlecht – Affekt: Sexu-elle Scripts als Palimpsest in literarischen Erzähltexten und zeitgenössischen theoretischen Debatten. Bielefeld: transcript, 2020; (edited with Andrea Zimmermann). Transitioning to Gender Equality. In: Book Series Transitioning to Sustainability. Basel: MDPI, 2021; Im Spannungsfeld von Identiätsfindung und Transgression von xii


Identitätskategorien. Eine geschlechtertheoretische Lektüre von Niklaus Flütsch Geboren als Frau. Glücklich als Mann. Logbuch einer Metamorphose (2014), in Rothstein, AnneBerenike (Hg.) Kulturelle Inszenierungen von Transgender und Crossdressing. Bielefeld: transcript, 2021, S. 169–193; Leitfaden für eine inklusive Sprache. Diversity & Inclusion Universität St.Gallen (2021). Anna Bredström is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO) and a member of the Center for Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research explores how race, ethnicity, and migration affect health, care, and biomedical knowledge production and her current research projects focus on the usage and translations of ethnic and racial categories in biomedical research and health care; biopolitical implications of using biometrics in migration management across the EU; and the diagnosis of post-COVID explored from an intersectional perspective. Her research is funded by the Swedish Research Council (2019–03310). She is involved in teaching at undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels, and frequently engaged as a public lecturer. Kathy Davis has worked in the field of gender studies in the Netherlands for many years, has held visiting chairs and research fellowships at Wellesley College, Columbia University, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies at Harvard University (USA) as well as the Maria Jahoda Chair for International Women’s Studies at Bochum University in Germany. She is currently senior research fellow in the Sociology Department at the VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her research interests include: sociology of the body, intersectionality, travelling theory, and transnational practices; new forms of body activism; the use of emotions in critical enquiry, biography as methodology and critical and creative strategies for academic writing. She is the author of many articles and books, including Reshaping the Female Body (Routledge, 1995), Dubious Equalities and Embodied Differences (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves: How Feminism Travels Across Borders (Duke, 2007) (which received several prizes), and Dancing Tango: Passionate Encounters in a Globalizing World (NYUPress, 2015). She has also edited many special issues of journals as well as anthologies, including Silences, Neglected Feelings and Blind-spots in Research Practice (Routledge, 2022 with J. Irvine), Contested Belonging: Spaces, Practices, Biographies (Emerald, 2018 with H. Ghorashi and P. Smets), Retrospective on Intersectionality (European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2017 with D. Zarkov), Transatlantic Conversations (Ashgate, 2011 with M. Evans), Handbook for Gender and Women’s Studies. London (Sage, 2006 with M. Evans and J. Lorber), and Embodied Practices: Feminist Perspectives on the Body (Sage, 19970). She was co-editor of the European Journal of Women’s Studies for fifteen years and President of the Research Committee Biography & Society of the ISA (International Sociological Association) from 1994 to 2002. Nikita Dhawan holds the Chair in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Technical University Dresden. Her research and teaching focus on global justice, human rights, democracy and decolonization. She received the Käthe Leichter Award in 2017 for outstanding achievements in the pursuit of women’s and gender studies and in support of the women’s movement and the achievement of gender equality. She has held visiting fellowships at Universidad de Costa Rica; Institute for International Law and the Humanities, The University xiii


of Melbourne, Australia; Program of Critical Theory, University of California, Berkeley, USA; University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain; Pusan National University, South Korea; Columbia University, New York, USA. Select publications include: Impossible Speech: On the Politics of Silence and Violence (2007); Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World (ed., 2014); Reimagining the State: Theoretical Challenges and Transformative Possibilities (ed., 2019); Rescuing the Enlightenment from the Europeans: Critical Theories of Decolonization (forthcoming). She has been awarded the Gerda-Henkel-Visiting Professorship at Stanford University for the winter academic quarter of 2023. Sylvanna M. Falcón is an Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies and Director of the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC). She is an award-winning author and educator. Her book Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activists inside the United Nations won the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize from the National Women’s Studies Association. She is the co-editor of Precarity and Belonging: Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship [Rutgers University Press, 2021] and New Directions in Feminism and Human Rights [Routledge, 2011]. She was the recipient of the 2020 Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching in the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and is the founder and director of UCSC’s Human Rights Investigations Lab. She is a former United Nations consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. Professor Myra Marx Ferree is the Alice H. Cook Professor of Sociology (emerita) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she was also a member of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department. She is the author of Varieties of Feminism: German Gender Politics in Global Perspective (2012), translated as Feminismen (Campus 2018). Her most recent work is on intersectional structures for mobilization on the right as well as left (e.g. “The Crisis of Masculinity for Gendered Democracies” Sociological Forum, 2020 and “Under Different Umbrellas: US political polarizations” European Journal of Politics and Gender, 2021, DOI: 10.1332/251510820X16068343934216) and historically grounded understandings of gendered stratification (e.g. “Theories Don’t Grow on Trees” in Gender Reckonings edited by Messerschmidt et al, 2018). Overall, her articles and books address feminist organizations and politics in the United States, Germany, and internationally, gender inequality in families, and intersectionality in sociological theory and practice. Her work has been recognized by the Jesse Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association (2004), the Victoria Schuck Award of the American Political Science Association (2013), and the Distinguished Career Award of the Race, Gender and Class Section of ASA (2019). Along with other stays in Germany, Australia, Hungary, and Sweden, she has been the Kennedy Wong Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University and the Marie Jahoda Visiting Professor at the Ruhr University, Bochum Germany. She currently enjoys an affiliation with the Minda da Gunzberg Center for European Studies at Harvard University and lives in Newton Massachusetts. Linda Gordon is University Professor of the Humanities and Florence Kelley Professor of History at NYU. Her most recent book is The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan in the American Political Tradition (Norton, 2017). Her study of 20th-century US social movements, including a chapter on socialist-feminist organizations Bread and Roses xiv


and the Combahee River Collective, will be published in 2023. She published Feminism Unfinished: A Short Surprising History of American Women’s Movements in 2014. Her 1999 book, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, the story of a vigilante action against Mexican-Americans, won the Bancroft prize for best book in American history and the Beveridge prize for best book on the history of the Western Hemisphere. Her 2009 Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits won a second Bancroft prize, making her one of four people ever to win this award twice. While writing the Lange biography, she discovered unnoticed and never published Lange’s photographs of the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, commissioned and then impounded by the US Army because of their critical perspective; she published these in 2006 as Impounded: Dorothea Lange and Japanese Americans in World War II. Her work on photography continued in her Inge Morath: Magnum Legacy (2018). Raquel Hernandez Guerrero is a mother of two and a PhD Candidate in the Ethnic Studies department at CU Boulder. Her research seeks to understand the liberatory principles inherent both in the ritualization of spiritual resistances and in the formation of Chicanx spiritual identities. In her previous ethnographic research with danza Azteca/danza Conchero groups, she focussed on Chicanx Indigenous reclamations of spirit expressed through the vehicle of revitalization movements as a way in which to resist the historical forces of colonization, acculturation, and forced assimilation. Her dissertation research centres on Chicana-Indigena reclamations of Indigeneity via modalities of spiritual engagement with Mesoamerican maternal divinities and ritually establishing an embodied relationality with the landbase. She seeks to understand how such manifestations of contemporary ChicanaIndigena spiritual formation hold futuristic potential to engender resilience against intergenerational maternal traumas of spirit, or “maternal susto”. Amund Rake Hoffart is a Researcher at the Centre for Gender Studies, University of Oslo. He holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Oslo, and a PhD in Gender Studies from Örebro University. His current book project is Interpreting Intersectionality: Interpretative Politics in Metacommentaries (forthcoming, Routledge). His research interests include feminist philosophy and critique, intersectionality studies, sociology of knowledge, and the politics of academic writing. Currently, he works within the research project Equality and Excellence in Sustainable Balance? Gender, Love and Desire for Knowledge in the Competitive University, examining how different formations of desire for knowledge thrive or crumble in response to the marketization of universities and commodification of ­knowledge production. Elisabeth Holzleithner is Professor of Legal Philosophy and Legal Gender Studies at the Department of Legal Philosophy, University of Vienna, Austria, and principal investigator of the interdisciplinary Research Platform GAIN – Gender: Ambivalent In_Visibilities at the University of Vienna. She serves as head of the Department of Legal Philosophy, as vice dean of Studies at the Faculty of Law, and she is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Doctoral School Advanced Research School in Law and Jurisprudence (ARS Iuris). She is co-editor of the Journals Gender, Rechtsphilosophie. Zeitschrift für Grundlagen des Rechts (Legal Philosophy. Journal for Foundations of the Law) and Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte (Journal for Human Rights). Recent publications in English include: “Reactionary Gender Constructions in Illiberal Political Thinking”, Politics and Governance (2022), xv


10(4), 6–15; “Global Contestations of Gender Equality and Queer Rights: Perspectives from Legal Philosophy”, in: Julia Roth (ed.), Global Contestations of Gender Rights. Bielefeld: transcript, 2022; “Subversion from Within: Opposition to Gender Equality in the Court of Justice of the European Union”, in: Mieke Verloo (ed.), Varieties of Opposition to Gender Equality in Europe. Theory, Evidence and Practice. New York and London: Routledge, 2018; “Gender Equality and Physical Requirements”, European Equality Law Review (2017) 1:13–22; “’The Game is Rigged’”: Fictions of Lawyering”, in: Christian Hiebaum, Susanne Knaller, and Doris Pichler (eds.), Recht und Literatur im Zwischenraum (Law and Literature In-Between), Bielefeld: transcript Lettre (2015). Helma Lutz has been trained as a Sociologist and an Educationalist. She studied at the Free University Berlin and worked as a Researcher at the Centre for Race and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam, University of Utrecht, NL, and the University of Münster. In 2007 she became Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the Department of Social Sciences at the Goethe University Frankfurt, where she functioned as acting director of this university’s Cornelia Goethe Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies 2015–2021. Her teaching and her research interests are concerned with gender, transnational care-migration and motherhood, with ethnicity, nationalism, racism, colonialism, and citizenship. In her research projects, Lutz uses intersectionality as method and theory focussing on the intersection of gender, migration, ethnicity, and nationality in European societies. She is currently president of the Research Committee RC05 (Nationalism, Racism, Indigeneity and Ethnic Relations) of the International Sociological Association and also a member of the German Council for Migration. She has widely published on these issues in three languages (Dutch, German, English) and her work has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Polish, and French. Her publications include 6 monographs, 14 (co-) edited books, 11 edited special journal issues, and more than a hundred articles in national and international journals and edited collections. Nina Lykke, Professor Emerita, Dr. Phil. Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden, and Adjunct Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark. She has participated in the building of Feminist Studies in Scandinavia and Europe more broadly since the 1970s. She is also poet and writer, and she has recently co-founded international networks for Queer Death Studies, and for Ecocritical and Decolonial Research. Current research interests: queering of cancer, death, and mourning in posthuman, queerfeminist, materialist, decolonial, and ecocritical perspectives; intersectionality; autophenomenographic and poetic writing. Author of over 200 publications among other monographs such as Cosmodolphins. Feminist Cultural Studies of Technology, Animals and the Sacred (with M. Bryld, 2000), Feminist Studies (2010), and Vibrant Death. A Posthuman Phenomenology of Mourning (2022); edited volumes such as Writing Academic Texts Differently (2014), Assisted Reproduction Across Borders (2016, w M.Lie), and Pluriversal Conversations on Transnational Feminisms (forthcoming 2023, w. R.Koobak, P.Bakos, S.Arora and K.Mohamed), and journal articles such as ”Queer Death Studies: Death, Dying and Mourning from a Queerfeminist Perspective”. Australian Feminist Studies (2020) (with M.Radomska and T.Mehrabi); “Decolonising Mourning. World-Making with the Selk’nam People of Karokynka/Tierra del Fuego” Australian Feminist Studies (2020) (with H.M.Vargas and C.Marambio); “Transversal Dialogues on Intersectionality, Socialist Feminism, and Epistemologies of Ignorance”. NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research (2020). xvi


Vivian M. May is the author of Anna Julia Cooper, Visionary Black Feminist (Routledge, 2007) and Pursuing Intersectionality, Unsettling Dominant Imaginaries (Routledge, 2015). She is Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Syracuse University. Currently, she is Director of the Syracuse University Humanities Center. She also leads the Central New York Humanities Corridor, an 11-university research consortium. Celeste Montoya is an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research primarily focusses on the ways in which women and racialized communities mobilize to enact change, with a particular focus on Latinas and other women of colour. She is interested in how marginalized groups work within and outside of political institutions, domestically and transnationally. Her work emphasizes intersectionality as a phenomenon as well as an approach. She has published on social movements, gender violence, voting rights, and political representation. Her current research agenda focusses on US Latina political leadership and activism. She is author of From Global to Grassroots: The European Union, Transnational Advocacy, and Combating Violence against Women (Oxford University Press 2013). She is co-editor of Gendered Mobilizations and Intersectional Challenges (ECPR Press 2019) and of the Temple University Press series on Intersectionality. Jennifer C. Nash is Jean Fox O’Barr Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. She is the author of Birthing Black Mothers, The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography, and Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality. Sylvanna M. Falcón is an Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies and Director of the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas at UC Santa Cruz. She is an award-winning author and educator. Her book Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activists inside the United Nations won the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize from the National Women’s Studies Association. She is the co-editor of Precarity and Belonging: Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship [Rutgers University Press, 2021] and New Directions in Feminism and Human Rights [Routledge, 2011]. She was the recipient of the 2020 Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching in the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and is the founder and director of UCSC’s Human Rights Investigations Lab. She is a former United Nations consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. Lyn Ossome is Associate Professor of Political Studies at Wits University, with specializations in the fields of feminist political economy and feminist political theory, and research interests in gendered labour, land and agrarian studies, the modern state, and the political economy of gendered violence. She is the author of Gender, Ethnicity and Violence in Kenya’s Transitions to Democracy: States of Violence (2018) and co-editor of the volume Labour Questions in the Global South (2021). Ann Phoenix is Professor of Psychosocial Studies at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Academy of Social Sciences and a trustee of the Nuffield Foundation. Her research focusses on the ways in which psychological experiences and social xvii


processes are linked and intersectional. It includes racialized and gendered identities, mixed-parentage, masculinities, consumption, motherhood, families, migration, and transnational families. Recent Visiting Professorships include the Erkko Professor at the Helsinki University Collegium for Advanced Studies, Finland, the Kerstin Hesselgren Guest Professor at Umea University, Sweden, and the Angela Davis Visiting Professor at Frankfurt University, Germany. Recent books include Environment in the Lives of Children and Families: Perspectives from India and the UK. Policy Press, 2017 (with Janet Boddy, Catherine Walker and Uma Vennan), Researching Family Narratives (co-edited with Julia Brannen and Corinne Squire), London: Sage and Nuancing Young Masculinities: Helsinki Boys’ Intersectional Relationships in New Times (with Marja Peltola), Helsinki University Press, 2022. Kornelia Slavova is Professor of American Studies in the Department of English and American Studies at St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Bulgaria. She has also taught at SUNY Albany, USA, and other institutions. Her publications are in the field of American drama and literature, comparative literature, cultural translation, and feminist issues in Eastern Europe. She is the author of The Traumatic Re/Turn of History in Postmodern American Drama (Sofia University Press, 2009) and American Drama on the Bulgarian Stage: Cultural Translation and Politics of Reception (Polis, 2014). She has edited and co-edited several books on gender theory and cultural studies, including Gender/Genre (Sofia University Press, 2010) and Identities in Transition: Gender, Popular Culture, and the Media in Bulgaria after 1989 (Polis, 2010). She is a founding member of the Bulgarian Association of University Women (BAUW, 1991). Her current research focusses on the translation of gender and feminist theory. She has been awarded The Christo G. Danov National Prize in the humanities and The Paul Celan International Award. Between 2008 and 2016 she served as associate editor of The European Journal of Women’s Studies (SAGE). Niels Spierings is Associate Professor in Sociology at Radboud University (Nijmegen, The Netherlands). His research focusses on the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in the domains of civil society, politics, and the labour market. Geographically his work focusses on the Middle East and North Africa, developing economies as well as Western Europe, the Netherlands in particular. Thematically, his work studies Islam, social media, political attitudes and behaviour, populism, migration, sexuality, gender role attitudes, and employment. Current projects focus on gender and masculinity in PRR politics, the political inclusion of citizens with a migrant or ethnicized background, and the complex impact or Islamic religiosity on socio-political attitudes and behaviour. A recurring motive in his work is building bridges between literatures, perspectives, and methods. Being trained in a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative methods, his work also engages with debates on mixed-methods research and applying statistical methods in gender, feminist, and intersectionality studies. On this he is regularly asked to provide guest lectures and since 2022 he teaches a summer course ”Doing Intersectional Quantitative Research” for graduate students, academic staff, and professionals. His work has been published as several monographs with Palgrave and in international peer-reviewed articles, among others in Gender & Society, Politics and Gender, European Journal of Politics & Gender, Social Forces, European Sociological Review, Patterns of Prejudice, International Migration Review, and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. xviii


Rumiana Stoilova is Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She is the team leader of the project “Digital Divide and Social Inequalities: Levels, Actors, Interplay” (2021–2024), funded by the Bulgarian National Scientific Fond; and of the project “Negotiating early job-insecurity and labour market exclusion in Europe”, Horizon 2020 (2015–2018). Stoilova has written the monographs: Gender and Stratification (2012) and Inequalities and Community Integration (2001) and more than 100 articles. Stoilova is President of the Bulgarian Sociological Association (since 2018), member of the Management Boards of the Bulgarian Centre of Women in Technologies and of the Bulgarian Women Union. Latest publications: (co-author) (2023). Gender gaps in participation in adult education in Europe: examining factors and barriers, In: John Holford et al. (Ed.) Lifelong Learning, Young Adults and the Challenges of Disadvantage, Chapter 6, Palgrave Macmillan; (with Ilieva-Trichkova, P.) (2022). Fairness of Educational Opportunities and Income Distribution: Gender-Sensitive Analysis in a European Comparative Perspective, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Emerald Publishing; (co-author) “Work-life balance in Europe: institutional contexts and individual factors”, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Emerald Publishing, (2020), Vol. 40 No. 3/4, pp. 366–381; (co-author) (2020) Gender Discrimination in the Hiring for Skilled Professionals in Two Male-Dominated Occupational Fields – A Factorial Survey Experiment with Real-World Vacancies and Recruiters in Four European Countries, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie (KZfSS) SPRINGER journal, Vol.72/1, 261–289. Vanessa E. Thompson is a Distinguished Assistant Professor in Black Studies and Social Justice in the Department of Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Her scholarship and teaching focusses on Black studies and anti-colonialism, abolition, critical racism, migration and gender studies, and activist ethnographies. She has co-edited Abolitionismus. Ein Reader (Suhrkamp, 2022), a special issue on Black Feminisms with Femina Politica (2021) and her book Black Socialities. Black Urban Activism and the Struggle beyond Recognition is forthcoming with Manchester University Press. Vanessa is a member of the International Independent Commission on the Death of Oury Jalloh and organizes with abolitionist feminist collectives in Europe and globally. Fernando Tormos-Aponte is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and a Kendall Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a Visiting Scholar at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge. He earned his MA and PhD in Political Science from Purdue University, West Lafayette, and a BA from the Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras. Dr. TormosAponte specializes in environmental and racial justice, intersectional solidarity, identity politics, social policy, and transnational politics. Tormos-Aponte’s research is situated in two areas of enquiry. Inspired by the devastating toll that hurricanes Irma and María had on his native Puerto Rico, Tormos-Aponte investigates civil society claims about the uneven government response across communities. His work in this area examines the causes and consequences of government neglect of socially vulnerable communities during disaster recoveries. Tormos-Aponte’s work also investigates how marginalized groups organize to address their societal needs. He seeks to understand the drivers and consequences of building solidarity across social group differences and how social movements develop an xix


intersectional organizing approach. Tormos-Aponte’s work has appeared in Social Politics, Energy Policy, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Social Science Quarterly, Politics, Groups, and Identities, Environmental Policy and Governance, Public Administration Review, Alternautas, PS: Political Science and Politics, and in the edited books Latinas and the Politics of Urban Spaces, Gendered Mobilizations, and The Legacy of Second-Wave Feminism in American Politics. His public writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Scientific American, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog, Nueva Sociedad, Jacobin, In These Times, London School of Economics United States Politics and Policy Blog, Undisciplined Environments, and Latino Rebels. Ethel Tungohan is a Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts and Activism and an Associate Professor of Politics at York University. Her research examines temporary labour migration, migrant social movements, and public and social policies pertaining to labour, health, education, and care work. In 2022, she has two forthcoming books: first is Containing Diversity: Canada and the Politics of Immigration in the 21st Century (University of Toronto Press), which is co-authored with Yasmeen Abu-Laban and Christina Gabriel and the second is Care Activism: Migrant Domestic Workers, Communities of Care and Movement Building (University of Illinois), which won the National Women’s Studies Association First Book Prize. She regularly uses socially engaged research methods in her work and has a long history of research and advocacy collaborations with migrant social justice movements. María do Mar Castro Varela is a Professor of Pedagogy and Social Work at the Alice Salomon University in Berlin and lectured amongst others at the University of Basel; the Zurich Academy of Arts, the University of Innsbruck, and the University of Vienna. She holds a double in Psychology and Pedagogy from the University of Cologne and a PhD in Political Science from the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen. Her research interests lie in postcolonial theory as well as in gender and queer studies, social justice, digital hate, and emancipation. She held guest professorships at the University of Oldenburg and the University of La Laguna in Tenerife. As a visiting scholar, she stayed at George Mason University, Virginia, the Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution (ICAR), the University Busan in South Korea, and the University of Costa Rica. In 2014, she was a visiting fellow of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities in Melbourne, Australia, and in 2015/16 she was a senior fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna. In 2020 she was awarded the Sir Peter Ustinov Guest Professorship at the Institute for Contemporary History, University of Vienna, and in 2023 the Thomas Mann Fellowship (together with Nikita Dhawan). María do Mar Castro Varela is the founder of the bildungsLab* (www. and chair of the Institute for Contrapunctual Social Analysis. Selected Publications: Untimely Utopias. Migrant Women between Learned Hope and Self-Invention; Postcolonial Theory. A Critical Introduction (co-authored); Post/Pandemic Lives. A New Theory of Fragility (co-authored) [all published in German] and TransHealth. Global Perspectives 2022 (co-edited). Mara Viveros-Vigoya holds a PhD in Anthropology from EHESS (Paris). She is a Professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where she has taught in the Department of Anthropology (1998–2017) and the School of Gender Studies. She is co-founder of the School and has been its director three times, in 2010–2012, 2016–2018, xx


and presently in 2022–2024. She has been a visiting professor at the l’ Institut des Hautes Études de l’Amérique Latine (IHEAL) at the University of Paris (Simón Bolívar Professorship 2000–2001), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (2010), Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México (2013), Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina (2016), and The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland (2017). Between September 2014 and July 2015 she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Social Science at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. She was President of the Latin American Studies Association from 2019 to 2020. In her career as a researcher and lecturer she has been guided by the theoretical, political, and ethical dimensions of critical feminism. Her research has focussed on the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, and race and ethnicity in the social and cultural dynamics of Latin American societies, and her current interests include the Black middle classes in Colombia; anti-racist ideologies, practices, and cultures in Latin America; and the study of men and masculinities from a feminist perspective. She is editor of the book Angela Davis y Gina Dent. Black Feminism. Teoría crítica, violencias y racismo (2019) and author of Les Couleurs de la masculinité. Expériences intersectionnelles et pratiques de pouvoir en Amérique Latine (2018) and The Oxymoron of the Black Middle Classes: Social Mobility and Intersectionality in Colombia (forthcoming). Nira Yuval-Davis is a Professor Emeritus, Honorary Director of the Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London. A diasporic Israeli Jew, Nira has been active in different forums against racism and sexism in Israel, the United Kingdom, and in several other countries. She has been the President of the Research Committee 05 (on Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnic Relations) of the International Sociological Association, founding member of Women Against Fundamentalism, the international research network on Women In Militarized Conflict Zones, and SSAHE (Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment). She has acted as a consultant for various UN and human rights organizations. She has written widely on intersected gendered nationalisms, racisms, fundamentalisms, citizenships, identities, belonging/s, and everyday bordering. Among her books are Woman-Nation-State (1989), Racialized Boundaries (1992), Unsettling Settler Societies (1995), Gender and Nation (1997), The Warning Signs of Fundamentalism (2004), The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations (2011), Women Against Fundamentalism (2014), and Bordering (2019). Her current research is on the politics of belonging, the climate crisis, and the corona pandemic. Her works have been translated into more than ten languages.



Intersectionality and Its Travels


We can imagine that you—the readers—are wondering whether we really need another book on intersectionality. In the past two decades, an enormous number of publications about intersectionality have appeared: articles, books, special issues, edited collections, and, yes, even a handbook or two. Perhaps it is time to say: enough is enough. And yet, we decided that there were some very good reasons, after all, to embark on one more book about intersectionality and we hope that the present volume will convince you why this is the case.

Why a Handbook on Intersectionality Studies? We have both followed the trajectory of intersectionality, beginning with its origins in US Black feminism to the coining of the famous term by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 and through the past three decades in which it has become a full-fledged discipline: ‘intersectionality studies’. We have tracked how the concept intersectionality has travelled: from legal studies to other disciplines, from the US to other parts of the world, and from the academy to the world outside: organisations, politics, and social activism. And we have observed the lively and—in some cases—heated debates on both sides of the Atlantic and they have convinced us that the last word on the possibilities and pitfalls of intersectionality will probably remain unsaid for many more years to come. There is always just one more facet that needs to be explored, another worry that needs to be addressed, or one more improvement that ought to be undertaken. There seems to be no end of topics that lend themselves to an intersectional analysis, and a range of methodologies have been developed for widening the horizon of research across a range of social inequalities, identities, and differences in power. Three developments in particular have made us think that a sustained reflection on the current state of affairs in intersectionality studies is in order. The first is that the term intersectionality is no longer limited to gender and critical studies within the academy, but it has popped up in all kinds of unexpected places outside the academy as well. A case in point is Flavia Dzodan’s famous online essay in which she wrote ‘Feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit’.1 This went from being a 3 DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-2

Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz

powerful rallying cry for a more inclusive and critical feminism to an internet meme that was marketed on T-shirts and posters (from which, parenthetically, Dzodan never saw a dime). Intersectionality is not just popular among activists and on the internet, however. Recently, politicians have been calling themselves ‘intersectional’ as well. A recent example in the Netherlands is a small political party devoted to putting everyday racism on the agenda.2 Its leader, Sylvanna Simons, a charismatic woman of colour, known for her feminist, anti-racist radio programmes, expressly presented the party as ‘intersectional’, meaning it would tackle all inequalities and their interrelations. The term did not become a household word, however, until a member of her party accused her of trying to be everyone’s friend and forgetting that racism cannot be combatted unless choices are made. A heated debate ensued about whether racism or sexism was more important, catapulting the term intersectionality into living rooms across the country. Another example comes from Frankfurt/M. Germany where Marianne Mahn won a seat for the Frankfurt City’s Green Party’s parliamentary group in March 2021. Her poster claimed ‘My feminism is intersectional’ (see Figure 1.1). Only several years ago, a message like this would have been confusing or inconceivable. Today, in this ‘Global City’, most young voters grew up in families with diverse backgrounds and/or migration histories. Many of them are alert to and/or have experiences of their own with regard to social exclusion and discrimination. They, along with young, female and academic voters, clearly felt addressed by Mahn’s poster and voted her into the Frankfurt parliament. In addition to the concept being taken up in political movements and by politicians, the term intersectionality is now appearing on tote bags and T-shirts, as decorative statements on young women’s fashion and children’s toys, as slogans on coffee mugs, and as bumper stickers and car decals. As Jennifer Nash argues in this volume, such representations have made intersectionality increasingly visible in the public domain, while, at the same time, raising questions about the meaning of the term. Taken together, these examples suggest that intersectionality has been appropriated and is moving in different directions—directions that beg for further exploration. The second reason for a handbook is the trajectory the term has taken inside the academy itself. Initially, Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) used a crossroad as metaphor for intersectionality, in which different social structures and identities are described as intersecting roads (gender road, race road, etc.), producing traffic that requires a power analysis. Since then, the term and the metaphor (see Amund Hoffart in this volume) have enjoyed a notable career, both inside and outside gender studies. While earlier feminist thinkers adopted an ‘addon’ approach to categories of difference in power,3 intersectionality appeared to establish a new agenda. Crenshaw (2000) rejected the additive approach, arguing that intersectionality could capture both the structural and the dynamic consequences of the interaction between two or more axes of subordination.4 During the UN World Conference against Racism in Durban 2001, her idea of crossings between systems of oppression found global resonance. While many precursor terms like Patricia Hill Collins’ (1990) ‘interlocking systems of oppression’ and ‘matrix of domination’ did not take off in quite the same way as intersectionality did, intersectionality as a label ‘combined an appealing level of abstraction with a comforting appearance of value-neutrality’ (Ferree, 2013: 379; see also Knapp, 2013). In a similar vein, Davis has argued that intersectionality became a ‘buzzword’ precisely because of its open-endedness and adaptability to diverse contexts. ‘The concept’s very lack of precision and its myriad missing pieces are what have made it such a useful heuristic device for


Intersectionality as Traveling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues

Figure 1.1

Slogan used by City Councillor in Frankfurt (photographer: Katharina Dubno).


Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz

critical feminist theory’ (Davis, 2008a: 78). Others have contested this, arguing for a more precise, historically coherent use of intersectionality (Bilge, 2013; Tomlinson, 2013, 2017). While the last word has not been said in this debate—something that is addressed in the present volume by several authors—what is clear is that intersectionality has long left the fields in which it originated—gender studies, critical race studies and law. It is now used in sociology and social work, health studies, education, social geography, anthropology, psychology, political sciences, literature studies, and even architecture. A third and related reason for this handbook is the emergence of a field of studies devoted to intersectionality. Although most universities do not yet have academic departments with this name, intersectionality has been increasingly adopted by gender studies centres and departments that use intersectionality as a keyword for course offerings in BA and MA programmes. In 2003, Cho, Crenshaw and McCall argued that intersectionality had become so institutionalised that it could realistically be called a field of its own and the term ‘intersectionality studies’ was born. However, this development was met with decidedly mixed feelings among feminist scholars of intersectionality. The German sociologists Cornelia Klinger and Gudrun-Axeli Knapp (2008), for example, embraced intersectionality’s potential for building a ‘grand’ theory, but were concerned with the tendency among intersectional scholars to let go of gender as a master category by declaring that no category is sacrosanct. They also argued that the term itself does not enable us to identify how and by what means race, class and gender are constituted as distinct social categories on a structural level. This argument is also made by Maria Azocar and Myra Marx Ferree in this volume. Moreover, once gender is decentred, it can easily become superfluous, thereby raising the fear of a political backlash in academia. Other (German) authors disagreed with this pessimistic assessment. For example, Katharina Walgenbach (2010) considers intersectionality a promising new paradigm for the scientific community precisely because it offers a set of terms, theoretical interventions, premises, problem definitions, as well as suggested solutions. The emergence of intersectionality as a field of study, replete with its own history, theories, methodologies, and debates designed to monitor its boundaries against unauthorised intruders, is itself reason for reflection. For example, what are the consequences of institutionalising what was initially meant to be a critical concept for social justice struggles? How do academic debates emerge about the theoretical implications of the term and what is the effect of these debates on intersectionality’s political relevance? And what happens when intersectionality appears in the public domain as a slogan or a commodity? Taken together, all three reasons indicate that intersectionality needs to be explored with an eye to how it has travelled and the ways it has been used, both within and outside the academy. This is not simply a matter of geography—that is, travelling from the US to Europe. Intersectionality has been taken up in many parts of the world. And, paradoxically, even when it has not been taken up, feminist scholars have felt compelled to account for its lack of relevance, particularly outside the US (see, for example, the Lyn Ossome’s and Mara Viveros Vigoya’s contributions in this volume). Lately, generational differences have emerged in how intersectionality is—or should be—taken up. Recent events like the Black Lives Matter movement and #MeToo have influenced debates about intersectionality (see Barbara Giovanna Bello’s discussion of the international influence of these movements in this volume), whereby the concept continues to change and be employed in new ways. Understanding these developments requires looking at intersectionality’s history through the lens of the present. What is it that brings critical scholars and activists back to intersectionality again and again? Why is intersectionality constantly being elaborated, re-worked 6

Intersectionality as Traveling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues

and deployed for different purposes and on different terrains? In other words, what is it about the concept of intersectionality that enables it to constantly reinvent itself?

A Brief History We start this handbook by looking at the history of intersectionality’s transatlantic and transversal travels. In their seminal article Ain’t I a Woman? Revisiting Intersectionality, Avtar Brah and Ann Phoenix (2004) traced the term’s historic background, citing the speech of the 19th-century US-Anti-Slavery activist Sojourner Truth as its origin. In this speech, Sojourner Truth spoke before an audience of white abolitionists, dramatically noting the differences in her life as a formerly enslaved person and the lives of the women in the audience. She demonstrated that the struggle for women’s suffrage must include the struggle for the suffrage of Black people. Vivian May (2014; and in this volume) has also convincingly argued that we need to take the history of Black feminist writing more seriously in order to situate the roots of intersectional thinking in Black women’s experiences with complex configurations of power. Another pivotal and more recent example which did not use the term intersectionality, yet demonstrated intersectional thinking, is the manifesto of the Combahee River Collective (1977/1986) in which the race-class-gender triad was expanded to include sexuality. Other US feminist scholar-activists like bell hooks, Barbara Smith, and Angela Davis analysed the intersections between gendered and racialised inequalities throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, when Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to describe intersecting social identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination, it took off very quickly and, in fact, often triggered a search for antecedents among feminists of colour and feminists with a migration background across the globe. As a result, discoveries have been made of pioneering women who were already trying to tackle the mutual constitution of race, class, and gender before the term intersectionality existed. Their work, often forgotten, has been rediscovered and used as foundation for specifying the complicated and multi-faceted genealogies of intersectional thinking. If the issues that intersectionality was intended to address were not new, they received an impetus with the introduction of the concept (Davis, 2008a). It seemed, at first glance, to be ideally suited to some of the most pressing issues facing US feminism. It promised to redress the problematic exclusion of the specific experiences of women of colour from earlier feminist scholarship by drawing attention to the ways these experiences were different and exacerbated vulnerabilities. It offered a more systematic approach to multiple oppressions by showing how they converge at different levels (structural, political, and representational). It put an end to the problematic strategy of drawing analogies between gender and race and between the experiences of women and people of colour by focussing on the specific ways race is ‘gendered’ and gender is ‘raced’ (see Stepan, 1986). And, finally, it offered a potential methodology for doing critical, feminist, anti-racist research; namely, ‘asking the other question’ (Matsuda, 1991). This methodology (as illustrated by Davis and Lutz in this volume) makes it possible to show how multiple positions and power inequalities actually operate in specific contexts and through specific practices. Intersectionality was not only taken up in US Black feminism and gender studies. It ‘travelled’ to other disciplines as well as organisations and social movements outside the academy. And it travelled geographically, making its way across the Atlantic and to other parts of the world. As we know from Edward Said’s (1983, 2000) seminal work on travelling theory, concepts, theories and ideas that circulate are invariably subject to amendments 7

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and changes as they are taken up by different audiences in different settings. Detached from the original context, such ‘borrowings’ or ‘appropriations’ transform the concept and its use. As intersectionality was taken up in academic settings, both within and outside the US, it generated a plethora of theoretical debates (Davis, 2008b, 2020; Lutz, 2016). For example, scholars began to explore which and how many categories of difference were required for an intersectional analysis (Amelina and Lutz, 2019: 19; Leiprecht and Lutz, 2015; Lykke, 2005; Yuval-Davis, 2006). Should an intersectional analysis be limited to the interaction between the ‘Big Three’ (gender, race, and class) or were more categories relevant for understanding the workings of power? Other scholars studied ways to conceptualise the intersection itself, problematising the crossroads metaphor as looking suspiciously like the additive, separate systems approach that intersectionality had been designed to alleviate (Yuval-Davis, 2006). Still others worried that intersectionality was neglecting agency and social transformation by focussing too exclusively on the vulnerabilities and constraints produced by multiple identifications. Devon Carbado (2013), for example, has argued against restricting intersectional analysis to the most vulnerable, calling this a ‘race to the bottom’. In his view, this short-changes the critical potential of intersectionality by letting the most powerful; that is, white, affluent, heterosexual men, off the hook. But possibly the most important, and certainly the most controversial, re-working of intersectionality centred around the meanings and importance of ‘race’. Particularly, in Europe, where intersectionality became extremely popular, both within and outside the academy, the issue of race and racism was a subject of considerable dispute. Some scholars worried that ‘race’ (like ‘gender’ and ‘class’) resonated differently in Europe because of the historical legacy of the Holocaust (Knapp, 2005). Others questioned the primacy of ‘race’ and ‘racism’ given the patterns of migration and widespread islamophobia in the wake of 9/11 which made categories like ethnicity, religion, national belonging, and tradition seem more essential for an intersectional analysis. Still others argued that the widespread denial of race and the effects of racism in Europe make them equally, if not more, important to any critical intersectional analysis in a European context (Erel et al, 2010; Lewis, 2013). While we firmly believe theories—particularly those that address issues that are important to specific audiences—will travel and that such travel automatically involves appropriations, amendments, and changes of the original meaning, this does not mean that the result will be met with universal approval. The travelling of intersectionality has had a decidedly mixed reception, even generating what Jennifer Nash (2019) has called the ‘intersectionality wars’. Some have argued that intersectionality has been misunderstood, de-politicised, and even ‘colonised’ by white (European) feminists (Bilge, 2013; Tomlinson, 2017). Gail Lewis (2013), for example, argues that intersectionality has not travelled ‘safely’ and has, during its journey, lost its connection with its intended subject and provenance: Black women and other women of colour. She condemned white European feminists for uncritically reproducing the assumption that in the contemporary European context ‘race’ has no analytic utility, characterising this as ‘an act of epistemological and social erasure’ aimed at denying and deleting the racist history of Europe and its current forms of expression (Lewis, 2013: 880). The Canadian sociologist Sirma Bilge (2013) complained that the appropriation of a ‘whitened intersectionality’ breaks its constitutive ties with critical race thinking. She claims that the fact that this has particularly happened in Europe is due to continental European feminists having a ‘certain propensity toward overly academic contemplation’ (pp. 411–413). These interventions have led to the quest to ‘rescue’ intersectionality from those who would misuse it and ‘return’ it to its original context of invention (Bilge, 2013; 8

Intersectionality as Traveling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues

Cho et al, 2013; Tomlinson, 2013). In her analysis of this debate, Kathy Davis has argued that without any doubt, ‘race’ is the pain point in these assessments of the transatlantic travel of intersectionality. In other words, the fear was that if ‘race’ would no longer be considered the master category in intersectional analysis, intersectionality would lose its critical edge (Davis, 2020: 121). Interestingly, the question of what should (or should not be) the master category of critical feminist analysis is also one that has haunted gender studies scholars in Germany. It was feared that the introduction of intersectionality would result in the loss of gender as master category, leading to a disavowal and weakening of gender studies that could easily be politically misused to abolish gender studies altogether (Bereswill and Neuber, 2011: 62; Rendtorff, 2008).5 In this volume, we have not shied away from critical debates about intersectionality, nor have we taken up the position that intersectionality is the only perspective for tacking issues of interlocking social inequalities and struggles for social justice. These debates are essential for the development of any critical perspective. However, we have tried to avoid unproductive name-calling and looked for ways to talk to one another across our differences. This volume offers fresh approaches to thinking critically about intersectionality and encouraging constructive debates about issues that are important to us all.

The Present Volume This handbook was developed and written during the Coronavirus pandemic. This has had an enormous influence on all of the contributors, including on us as editors. We have had to contend with authors who had promised to contribute, but had to jump ship at the last moment because they were so overwhelmed with illness, or children at home, or endless online meetings. Almost everyone had difficulties writing during the pandemic and had to ask for extensions or—with lots of apologies—to submit very rough drafts. As editors, we found ourselves doing more support work than we had anticipated. We wrote reassuring letters. We offered to read and provide suggestions for the most preliminary of drafts. We extended deadlines and when they didn’t work, we extended them again. While this resulted in more work than we had signed on for, it was also rewarding. It felt much more like a communal project, where we were all working together and trying to accomplish something in the face of a shared crisis. The present volume treats intersectionality as a work in progress—as a history that still needs to be explored, as a theory that has travelled and continues to be taken up and re-worked, as a field of studies that has spawned developments that are both exciting and disturbing, and as a catalyst for critical research and social justice. In short, intersectionality and its travels represent a phenomenon about which the last word has yet to be written. The authors come from different disciplines, and they adopt different theoretical and methodological perspectives to think about intersectionality. Some of them are superstars in the field whose work has inspired many of us. Others are younger scholars who have come to intersectionality more recently and provide fresh and often surprising insights based on their own interests and concerns. We have tried to broaden the usual national focus to include contributors from different parts of the globe, not just from the US where intersectionality originated, but from the UK and Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and farther afield to the Global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America). We have asked contributors to think both locally and transnationally about intersectionality, bringing in their own ideas, reservations, and hopes. 9

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The book is divided into six parts. It begins with a history of intersectionality and its travels to Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and the Global South. This is followed by some of the ways intersectionality has developed. These developments entail attempts to relate intersectionality to other critical theories (post-colonialism) or to extend its epistemological, theoretical and methodological scope or to make its political remit more global. In the third part, the debates and controversies surrounding intersectionality’s travels and reception are explored. The contributors in this section endeavour to move beyond some of the stalemates and impasses that have characterised the ‘intersectionality wars’ (Nash, 2019), showing how we might learn from them and move forward. The next section provides a look at some of the ways intersectionality can be employed in empirical research. This is an issue which has confounded many intersectionality scholars who like the concept, but aren’t sure how to use it in their own work. This section shows some of the different ways intersectionality can be used as a method or heuristic device that can help us do critical research on the interaction of multiple identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination. The final section returns to the roots of intersectionality in the law and social justice and shows how it has been mobilised in social activism, both in the past and in the present. As editors of this book, we have sought to answer the question: which of our authors are critical or even doubtful in their evaluation of intersectionality as a travelling theory and which are positive? After considering the rich array of contributions, we have distinguished four lines of argumentation. The first is a scepticism regarding the transferability of the categories used in intersectional analysis to other parts of the globe. The second is a positive recognition of the concept’s inherent transferability to other contexts. The third is a back-to-the roots argument that rejects extending or changing intersectionality and instead offers a plea for the re-evaluation of the original texts and the movements which inspired them. And, finally, a fourth line is a quest for more openness towards the metaphorical possibilities of intersectionality. The sceptics doubt that intersectionality can ever fit every context. Its transmission to the Global South can only be accepted in conjunction with other conceptual frameworks, particularly post/decolonial or post-socialist theories. The transferability of the core categories (race-class-gender) to countries in the Global South or to the post-socialist countries has been called into question by Lyn Ossome, Nikita Dhawan and Maria do Mar Castro-Varela, Kornelia Slavova and Rumiana Stoivola, Sylvanna M Falcon, and Celeste Montoya and Raquel Hernandez Guerrero in different ways in this volume. All of them raise questions whether theories originating in the US and Europe can be treated as the theory for understanding a multiplicity of discriminations and power relations in other parts of the globe. They insist on a critical interrogation of intersectionality and reject the idea that one theory is suitable for every context or constellation of power. The majority of the authors of this handbook, however, are less prone to doubt intersectionality’s usefulness in other contexts. Instead, they embrace the concept as one that has brought about much-needed discussions about racism, colonialism and enslavement to European shores. While Ann Phoenix, Nina Lykke, Nira Yuval Davis, Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz, Niels Spierings, Anna Bredström, Elisabeth Holzleithner, and Christa Biswanger have different approaches to using intersectionality, they all have viewed it as a source of inspiration for their research projects and found ways to make it work for them in theorising and investigating configurations of gendered and racialised power. 10

Intersectionality as Traveling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues

Other authors insist that we need to first look to the past and its connection to the present if we are to use intersectionality productively. They advocate travelling to the roots of intersectionality in the late 19th century. Vivian May and Vanessa Thompson return to the pioneers of original texts and the activities of the anti-slavery movement as important inspirations that are needed as correctives for current scholarship. Returning to the origins of intersectional thought helps us to read their presence through recent debates. Linda Gordon also sees the past—in her case, the US American women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s—as an important inspiration for contemporary social activism, and, in particular, the issue of how to form coalitions across differences. Barbara Giovanna Bello argues for a rereading of how the nexus of rupture and continuity in the civil rights and in the women’s movements of the past are echoed in the intersectional genealogies of the #BLM and #MeToo movements. And, finally, the chapters of Jennifer Nash, Amund Rake Hoffart, Ethel Tungohan, and Fernando Tormos-Aponte make a case for a new kind of openness in current debates about intersectionality, which avoids the contradictions between safe/ unsafe or good/bad travel. Amund Rake Hoffart sees travelling as reinvention with new metaphors for intersectionality that beg to be explored. Jennifer Nash takes a novel look at ‘travel’ that is not so much geographical, but commercial. She perceptively analyses the emergence of tote bags and T-shirts with both their positive as well as their negative impacts on how we understand intersectionality. Ethel Tungohan and Fernando Tormos-Aponte embrace intersectionality in so far as it has travelled outside academia and become a central force in contemporary activisms. As Kathy Davis argues in the Epilogue, there is no guarantee that intersectionality will always and everywhere be taken up in a way that is universally acceptable. The genealogy of the term itself as well as the complexity of the debates underscore the importance of remaining critically vigilant toward how intersectionality is deployed within and outside the academy, and being prepared to engage with our own positionalities and blind spots. Thinking transnationally means being respectful of and learning from our differences. It is our hope that this handbook will inspire scholars and activists in different parts of the world, in different fields, both inside and outside the academy, to continue to elaborate, reinvent, and criticise what has rightfully been called feminism’s most famous travelling theory.

Notes 1 See: 2 3 See, for example, the notions of ‘double’ or ‘multiple jeopardy’ by Frances Beale (2008) and Deborah King (1988) that refer to the additional barriers and burdens faced by individuals who are disadvantaged by race and class. Socialist feminists extended this perspective to include class in the ‘triple oppression theory’ (Lynn, 2014). See also, Linda Gordon in this volume. 4 Other feminist scholars have also been critical of this additive approach. See, for example, Haraway (1991), Yuval-Davis (1991), and Puar (2012), just to name a few. 5 ‘Anti-genderism’ has become a disturbing force through Europe, supplying the common denominator and symbolic glue of ultra-right, populist movements (Kuhar and Paternotte, 2017).

References Amelina, A. and Lutz, H. (2019) Gender and Migration. Transnational and Intersectional Prospects. London and New York: Routledge. Beale, F. M. (2008). “Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female.” Meridians 8 (2): 166–176.


Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz Bereswill, M. and Neuber, A. (2011) “Marginalized Masculinity, Precarisation and the Gender Order.” In: H. Lutz, M.-T. Herrera – Vivar and L. Supik (eds.) Framing Intersectionality. Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 69–87. Bilge, S. (2013) “Intersectionality Undone: Saving Intersectionality from Feminist Intersectionality Studies.” Du Bois Review 10 (2): 405–424. Brah, A. and Phoenix, A. (2004) “Ain’t I A Woman? Revisiting Intersectionality.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 5 (3): 75–86. Carbado, D. W. (2013) “Colorblind Intersectionality.” Signs 38 (4): 811–845. Cho, S., Crenshaw, K. W., and McCall, L. (2013). “Toward a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications, and Praxis.” Signs 38 (4): 785–810. Collins, P. H. (1990) Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman. Combahee River Collective (1977/1986) The Combahee River Collective Statement. Albany, NY: Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press. Crenshaw, K. (1989) “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 140: 139–167. Crenshaw, K. (2000) “Background Paper for the Expert Meeting on the Gender-Related Aspects of Race Discrimination.” Paper presented in Zagreb, November 2000. Davis, K. (2008a) “Intersectionality as Buzzword: A Sociology of Science Perspective on What Makes a Feminist Theory Successful.” Feminist Theory 9 (1): 67–86. Davis, K. (2008b) “Intersectionality in Transatlantic Perspective.” In: C. Klinger and G.-A. Knapp (eds.) ÜberKreuzungen. Fremdheit, Ungleichheit, Differenz. Münster: Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot, pp. 19–35. Davis, K. (2020) “Who Owns Intersectionality? Some Reflections on Feminist Debates on How Theories Travel.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 27 (2): 113–127. Erel, U., Haritaworn, J., Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E., and Klesse, C. (2010) “On the Depoliticisation of Intersectionality Talk: Conceptualising Multiple Oppressions in Critical Sexuality Studies.” In: Y. Taylor, S. Hines, and M. Casey (eds.) Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 56–77. Ferree, M. M. (2013) “On the Locally Situated and Historical Understanding of Intersectionalities. Comment on Knapp.” EWE (Deliberation, Knowledge, Ethics) 24 (3): 378–381. Haraway, D. (1991) Symians, Cyborgs and Women. The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free ­Association Books. King, D. K. (1988) “Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness: The Context of a Black Feminist Ideology.” Signs 14 (1): 42–72. Klinger, C. and Knapp, G.-A. (2008) “Einleitung.” In: C. Klinger and G.-A. Knapp (eds.) ÜberKreuzungen. Fremdheit, Ungleichheit, Differenz. Münster: Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot, pp. 7–18. Knapp, G.-A. (2005) “Race, Class, Gender: Reclaiming Baggage in Fast Travelling Theories.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 12 (3): 249–266. Knapp, G.-A. (2013) “Zur Bestimmung und Abgrenzung von ‚Intersektionalität‘. Überlegungen zur Interferenz von ‚Geschlecht‘, ‚Klasse‘ und anderen Kategorien sozialer Teilung.” EWE (Deliberation, Knowledge, Ethics) 24 (3): 341–354. Kuhar, R. and Paternotte, D. (eds.) (2017) Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe: Mobilizing Against Equality. London: Roman & Littlefield. Leiprecht, R. and Lutz, H. (2015) “Intersektionalität im Klassenzimmer. Zur sozialen Konstruktion und Bedeutung von Ethnie, Klasse, Geschlecht und ihren Verbindungen.” In: R. Leiprecht. and A. Steinbach (eds.) Schule in der Migrationsgesellschaft. Schwalbach/Ts: Debus Pädagogik Verlag, pp. 283–304. Lewis, G. (2013) “Unsafe Travel: Experiencing Intersectionality and Feminist Displacements.” Signs 38 (4): 869–892. Lutz, H. (2016) “Intersectionality’s Amazing Journey: Toleration, Adaptation and Appropriation.” Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia 3: 421–437. Lykke, N. (2005) “Intersectionality Revisited: Problems and Potentials.” Kvinnovetenskappling tidskrift 26 (2–3): 7–17.


Intersectionality as Traveling Theory—Possibilities for Dialogues Lynn, D. (2014) “Socialist Feminism and Triple Oppression.” Journal for the Study of Radicalism 8 (2): 1–20. Matsuda, M. J. (1991) “Beside My Sister, Facing the Enemy: Legal Theory out of Coalition.” Stanford Law Review 43 (6): 1183–1192. May, V. M. (2014) “‘Speaking in the Void’? Intersectionality Critiques and Epistemic Backlash.” Hypatia 29 (1): 94–112. Nash, J. (2019) Black Feminism Reimagined. After Intersectionality. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Phoenix, A. and Patynama, P. (eds.) (2006) “Intersectionality.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 13 (3): 187–192. Puar, J. (2012) “I Would Rather be a Cyborg Than a Goddess: Intersectionality, Assemblage, and ­Affective Politics.” Philosophia 2 (1): 49–66. Rendtorff, B. (2008) “Warum Geschlecht doch etwas ‘Besonders’ ist.” In: C. Klinger and G. D. Knapp (eds.) ÜberKreuzungen. Fremdheit, Ungleichheit, Differenz. Münster: Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot, pp. 68–86. Said, E. (1983) “Traveling Theory.” In: The World, the Text, and the Critic. London: Faber and Faber, pp. 226–247. Said, E. (2000) “Traveling Theory Reconsidered.” In: Reflections on Exile & Other Literary & Cultural Essays. London: Granta, pp. 436–452. Stepan, N. L. (1986) “Race and Gender: The Role of Analogy in Science.” ISIS 77 (2): 261–277. Tomlinson, B. (2013) “To Tell the Truth and Not Get Trapped: Desire, Distance, and Intersectionality at the Scene of Argument.” Signs 38 (4): 993–1018. Tomlinson, B. (2017) “Category Anxiety and the Invisible White Woman: Managing Intersectionality at the Scene of the Argument.” Feminist Theory 19 (2): 145–164. Walgenbach, K. (2010) “Postscriptum: Intersektionalität—Offenheit, interne Kontroversen und Komplexität als Ressourcen eines gemeinsamen Orientierungsrahmens.” In: H. Lutz, M. T. Herrera-Vivar, and L. Supik (eds.) Fokus Intersektionalität: Bewegungen und Verortungen eines wissenschaftlichen Konzeptes. Wiesbaden: VA Verlag, pp. 245–256. Yuval-Davis, N. (2006) “Intersectionality and Feminist Politics.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 13 (3): 193–210.



It has become commonplace that intersectionality is the most important and generative feminist theory to spread through academic work across disciplines. Equally, intersectionality has extended across the globe and, as with any theory that becomes ubiquitous, it has generated debate that has sometimes been both heated and illuminating. Those debates have been differently inflected in different European countries. They are, however, interlinked and in conversation with transnational debates, including from both Europe and the USA. The variety of debates are, themselves, important for understanding the development of intersectionality, its situatedness and contemporary conceptualisation. Debates are, however, dynamic. As intersectionality becomes popular it broadens, and the focus shifts – opening new debates as it does so. Some of these shifts arise as the implication of pushing intersectionality in certain directions becomes clear. Shifts in theorising must be considered in their social and temporal contexts because they always arise in relation to already-existing ideas and so are necessarily historically located and particular to the contexts in which they arise. This chapter contributes to the direction of European discussions of intersectionality by focussing on racialisation and intersectionality. It argues that divisions and shifts in intersectional theory partly arise from differences in the issues foregrounded in intersectional analysis and activism. However, it is also because intersectionality lends itself to being employed from different epistemological, ontological and axiological perspectives. This conceptual openness can be seen as one of the strengths of intersectionality, making it widely accessible and diverse (Davis, 2008). However, it does sometimes divorce concepts, methodology and theorising from intersectionality informed activism. The chapter is divided into three main parts. The first, A European focus on intersectionality, draws on an influential paper that considered the travels of intersectionality by constructing it as having taken different forms in the UK (as a European example) and the USA, where Crenshaw (1989) had coined the term (Prins, 2006). It makes the point that making this distinction and racialising it as Prins has done serves to essentialise intersectionality, which runs counter to the ways in which intersectionality is theorised. The second part, Dynamism in theorising intersectionality, then considers the ways in which intersectionality is both historically located and geographically situated. It demonstrates the DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-3 14

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importance of resisting originalist views of intersectionality that fix its future focus because it was developed to address the exclusion of black women from theory and practice while refusing the erasure of black women in work that employs intersectionality. The section argues that the dynamism of intersectionality theory is partly fuelled by ‘hauntology’, the ways in which historical oppression and trauma haunt contemporary social relations. The third part, Intersectionality, racialised hauntings and psychosocial eruptions illuminates the importance of expanding intersectional analyses to include historical social relations and trauma since these both inflect contemporary social relations and erupt psychosocially in unforeseen ways. This became evident in 2020 and 2021 with global reactions to the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in the USA and international reactions to the UK murder of Sarah Everard, killed by an off-duty policeman. It argues that intersectionality is at its most powerful when used in conjunction with other theories to illuminate social positioning and inequalities. The conclusion to the chapter considers possibilities for productive developments in intersectional theory, research and practice.

A European Focus on Intersectionality? At the beginning of the 20th century, Prins (2006: 280–281) produced a much-cited paper that conceptualises British and US types of intersectionality. She was careful to explain that the US and British (as European) approaches to intersectionality share anti-essentialist perspectives and that intersectionality emphasises the ways in which social, historical and symbolic factors produce complexities that cannot be reduced to additive or multiplicative models of identity. However, she noted marked differences in how intersectionality is treated on either side of the Atlantic. She argued that US feminist intersectionality treated power as unilateral, as opposed to relational, and assumed “a notion of the human subject as primarily constituted by systems of domination and marginalization”, with people “taken to be the passive bearers of the meanings of social categories”, while the British, constructionist perspective, treats “markers of identity such as gender, class or ethnicity” as simultaneously limiting and enabling resources. Equally, Prins suggested that US approaches were ‘systemic’ and treated social identity as simply resulting from categorisation, “whereas British scholars focus on the dynamic and relational aspects of social identity” in ‘constructionist’ approaches. Prins’ article is being used here as emblematic of a broader European phenomenon because its analysis of the travels of intersectionality is clearly an attempt to account for differences produced in the travels of the term intersectionality across the Atlantic. However, it arguably both illustrates the importance of conceptualising intersectionality theory in complex ways and how it is possible to essentialise groups and intersectionality itself. In particular, the paper appears to be responding to the ways in which US feminists, who employ intersectionality, sought to ensure that racism and black women continued to be foregrounded in work employing intersectionality. In a period when social constructionism, postmodernism and Foucauldian poststructuralism were making a mark on European academia, the burgeoning consciousness of intersectionality was incorporated into a context where categories themselves were being deconstructed and decentred (Rattansi and Phoenix, 2005). Prins’ analyses thus fit with debates about the problems of imposing pre-given categories in social analyses. From this perspective, what Leslie McCall (2005)1 refers to as an ‘anti-categorical’ approach would entail deconstructing a focus on racism and black women (or any other category) as pre-given categories in favour of examining the categories that are made relevant in particular studies and their contexts. 15

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Prins’ regionalising of intersectionality was intersectional in that it linked the continent with racialised categorical focus or lack of it. It also had a pejorative edge in that it implied that US work on intersectionality had a dated approach, while UK (European) perspectives did not. This implicitly suggested that the foregrounding of black women’s lives and experiences was old fashioned and valorised the omission of black women from research. As many scholars (from both sides of the Atlantic) pointed out, one impact of this was to dismiss the very issue that had led Kimberlé Crenshaw to coin the term, while recognising the importance of the insights and sensibilities it enabled and using them in research (Bilge, 2013; Lewis, 2013; Tomlinson, 2013, 2018).

Essentialising Intersectionality While she did not intend this, Prins’ formulation was essentialist in three ways, each of them antithetical to intersectionality. First, long before Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term ‘intersectionality’, there were black feminists in the USA who viewed systemic racism and black women’s positioning as central but analysed them as situated and decentred by other social categories such as sexuality and social class (e.g., Combahee River Collective, 1977; Davis, 1983). Thus, while they did not use the language of social constructionism, their theorising was socially constructionist. For example, the black lesbian collective, the Combahee River Collective (1977) wrote: In our consciousness-raising sessions we have in many ways gone beyond white women’s revelations because we are dealing with the implications of race and class as well as sex. Even our black women’s style of talking, testifying in black language about what we have experienced has a resonance that is both cultural and political. Indeed, one of the political campaigns waged by black women in the 1970s and 1980s was about many white feminists’ failure to recognise the existence and importance of racism for black women’s lives and experiences and for society more generally. The assumption that sexism was hierarchically more important than racism was repeatedly challenged by black women. This is evocatively conveyed in the contents and book title, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave (Hull et al., 1982). They were, therefore, impelled by intersectional sensibilities that recognise the situatedness of gender, ‘race’ and social class intersections and the plurality and flexibility of oppressions long before Crenshaw (1989) coined the term. Second, there are undoubtedly differences between scholarship in the UK and the USA (Phoenix, 2011), and there are good reasons for localising epistemologies and knowledge production, particularly in the Majority World, which is often subjected to Eurocentrism (Patel, 2016). However, there are equally many commonalities when theories are shared between continents. For example, Amos and colleagues (1984) produced a special issue of the journal Feminist Review (number 17) entitled “Many voices, One Chant – Black Feminist Perspectives”. That special issue, which sold out very quickly, brought together Asian and African origin women under the umbrella ‘black’ to examine the plurality of black women’s voices. It was, therefore, non-essentialist in examining differences between women socially constructed as black and taking political perspectives on blackness as well as recognising (in concert with black feminists in the USA) the simultaneity and mutual


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constitution of gender, race, social class, and nation. Anthias and Yuval-Davis (1983: 62), who are not black feminists, but were migrants to the UK, also took what would come to be seen as an intersectional perspective in bringing together gender, ethnicity and social class to interrogate feminism. ‘Sisterhood is powerful.’ ‘Sisterhood’ can also be misleading unless contextualized. Black, minority and migrant women have been on the whole invisible within the feminist movement in Britain and within the literature on women’s or feminist studies… Our analysis serves to problematise the notion of ‘sisterhood’ and the implicit feminist assumption that there exists a commonality of interests and/or goals amongst all women. Rather we argue that every feminist struggle has a specific ethnic (as well as class) context. In the UK context, Hazel Carby (1982) also took issue with the notion of ‘sisterhood’ for reasons that would now be considered intersectional, although her article predated the coining of the term. She argued that racism is as much about how black women are included as about where they are absent and excluded. Treating ‘race’ and gender as parallel places renders black women invisible without addressing the fact that power relations between women are divisive if not addressed. The point here is both that it is unsatisfactory to draw sharp distinctions between the USA and the UK (Europe) and that there are differences between black feminists within the UK and within the USA in terms of how they theorise feminisms. Some have undoubtedly always theorised differences between women in ways that are consonant both with intersectionality and with social constructionism. The third way in which Prins’ formulation was essentialist is commonplace, and it concerns what Jennifer Nash (2016) has called originalism in the treatment of intersectionality. Nash argues that this is an investment, in returning to Crenshaw’s 1989 and 1991 ‘inaugural’ intersectional texts and assessing later feminist work on intersectionality by its fidelity to those texts. Of course, we should acknowledge that the coining of the term was itself significant, helping many scholars to see the utility and importance of intersectional thinking – it is important not to engage in ‘rhetorics of rejection and replacement’ (Tomlinson, 2013). At the same time, as discussed above, the coining of intersectionality was not the starting point of intersectional thinking. Patricia Hill Collins (2011, para. 5), whose work has long been intersectional, suggests that “Although Black feminism was a significant factor in catalysing the guiding frame of intersectionality, contemporary narratives concerning the emergence of intersectionality as a knowledge project routinely ignore its links to Black feminist politics of the 1960s and 1970s”. Hill Collins places black feminist genealogies of intersectionality in historical context and recognises that black women are frequently considered valueless. In doing so she resists treating black women’s contributions as independently and solely responsible for discovering intersectionality. Instead, she explains that African American women were part of a broader women’s movement where Chicanas and other Latinas, native women and Asian American women (who subsequently became redefined collectively as women of color) were at the forefront of


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raising claims about the interconnectedness of race, class, gender and sexuality in their everyday lived experience… (Collins, 2011, para. 7) Hill Collins’ formulation makes it clear that it is all too easy to tell simplistic historical stories about an area as contested as intersectionality. ‘Originalism’ both obscures the simultaneous social movement politics and academic histories of intersectionality and prevents the recognition of the necessary ways in which intersectionality (in keeping with all knowledge projects) changes over time as shortcomings are recognised and social circumstances change (Collins, 2019). It clouds the differences in the ways in which intersectionality is taken up and theorised and, therefore, runs the risk of obscuring the contribution of intersectionality to the recognition of difference.

Dynamism in Theorising Intersectionality Historicising and Emplacing Intersectional Theories It is not that Prins’ (2006) paper is particularly culpable, but that it is underpinned by assumptions that are commonplace, because of taken-for-granted assumptions among many white Europeans. In particular, the myth of historical monoculturalism has long had a strong influence on how many European countries understand themselves: as white and as monocultural. The pervasive belief in historically white monoculturalism can be understood as part of what Wekker (2016) calls ‘white innocence’. This concept describes the contradiction between denial of racism, evasion of issues of race and racialised hostility to migrants and minoritised ethnic groups. This manifests itself in expectations that those considered migrants (even if born in the country) adapt to white people’s socially constructed notions of the national way of life. It also excludes minoritised ethnic groups from belonging to the nation (Yuval-Davis, 2011). Cain (2015) suggests that there is a Dutch narrative of denial about the national history of enslavement and colonialism. Wekker (2016) suggests that this is part of the ‘cultural archive’, in which understandings of national history and identity normalise and render invisible contemporary racialised and ethnic inequalities and at the same time assert colour blindness. Wekker’s analysis, and Prins’, are written in the Netherlands, where the Second World War history of genocide of the Jewish population and collaboration with Nazis produced a refusal to enumerate the population by ethnicity or religion for fear of a repetition of identifying subgroups for extermination. Racism, however, is an everyday phenomenon but remains often unacknowledged (Essed, 1991). In France, Evans and Lépinard (2019) suggest that feminist intersectionality was not named until 2014 because of the resistance to take account of race, racism, and intersectionality within French activism … and the crucial role that intersectionality can play in the emergence and development of new forms of feminist activism which aim to represent the needs and interests of multiply marginalised women, especially with respect to race. This is the context in which Prins and others considered the UK and Europe to be free of ‘systemic’ versions of intersectionality that foreground inequalities and oppressions.


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In the years that have followed the publication of Prins’ paper, heated debates about the place of racialisation and racisms in intersectionality theory and the proliferation of research and theorising in this area have helped to illuminate productive ways of thinking about intersectionality in intersectional ways.

Eschewing Both Originalism and the Erasure of Black Women Since, as discussed above, theorising is necessarily socially situated, telling any story about intersectionality is unavoidably partial, a snapshot. However, the purport of the discussion above is that intersectionality’s long history means that there are many ways in which researchers draw on intersectionality and many different foci. There remain two focal points of contestation over intersectionality. One, the futility of staking claims to ownership of intersectionality has been discussed above and well addressed in various publications. For example, as a black feminist, Jennifer Nash (2016, 2018), – advocates that black feminists should move beyond originalist attempts to own intersectionality and police other people’s employment of it. Instead, she advocates a move away from the identity politics of intersectionality to a post-intersectionality affective politics, where love (including for the self) is transformative. Nash (2020) takes an intersectional perspective on this, examining how emotions serve to produce alliances between some people, and against others. These affective politics, Nash suggests, describe ‘how bodies are organised around intensities, longings, desires, temporalities, repulsions, curiosities, fatigues, optimism and how these affects produce political movements (or sometimes inertias)’. Nash argues black feminist ‘affective love politics’ is entirely different from the identity politics perspective more commonly associated with black feminism. Although Nash uses the term post-intersectionality, she takes care to explain that it does not mean that intersectionality has ceased to be useful: thinking about intersectionality requires to be extended in new ways to address issues with which black feminists are currently concerned. The second focal point is about the depoliticisation of intersectionality as it has come to be widely used (Bilge, 2013; Tomlinson, 2013). Kathy Davis (2020) expresses this succinctly. Feminist scholars have increasingly expressed their worries about the depoliticization of intersectionality since it has travelled from its point of origin in US Black feminist theory to the shores of Europe. They have argued that the subject for which the theory was intended has been displaced, that Black feminists have been excluded from the discussion, and that white European feminists have usurped all the credit for intersectionality as theory. Intersectionality has been transformed into a product of the neoliberal academy rather than the helpmeet for social justice it was meant to be. It is clearly a matter of concern since the coining of the term was designed to ensure that black women’s lives and concerns were addressed on intellectual and political agenda, rather than to render them invisible in some applications of intersectionality theory (Lewis, 2013). Ensuring that black women’s positioning, concerns, and oppressions are addressed is, however, not the same as requiring that each study or publication foregrounds, or even includes, black women. This is because intersectionality is necessarily a relational theory, where inclusions are shifting social categories that depend on the relevance of issues and


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social contexts. Understanding oppressions and commitment to social justice cannot, therefore, only be addressed by focussing on those who are subjected to racisms and other discriminations and who are positioned in less powerful ways. Intersectional analysis should not be limited only to those on the multiple margins of society, but rather that the boundaries of intersectional analysis should encompass all members of society and thus intersectionality should be seen as the right theoretical framework for analysing social stratification. (Yuval-Davis, 2011: 159) This parallels the ways in which Frantz Fanon (1952) theorises racialisation as relational. Yet, many people treat racialisation as if it applies only to those from minoritised ethnic groups, rather than to everyone. As Devon Carbado (2013: 841) suggests, framing intersectionality as only about women of colour produces effects that are not intersectional because this “leaves colorblind intersectionality and gender-blind intersectionality unnamed and uninterrogated, further naturalizing white male heterosexuality as the normative baseline against which the rest of us are intersectionally differentiated” (Carbado, 2013, 841).

Historical Hauntings in Shifting Intersectional Understandings The fact that it is not essential to foreground a focus on black women in intersectionality and that it may be counterproductive in social justice terms to do so in some contexts does not, however, mean that it does not matter what, or who, is the focus of research. Working out which categories are relevant to a particular social topic requires theorisation of social life in ways that recognise that the local context is situated in specific global and historical contexts. To return to Prins’ notion of constructionist intersectionality, working out which categories are making a difference depends on how society is theorised. That theorisation is dynamic, shifting over time. For example, understanding of Dutch society in general was shifted by the publication of Philomena Essed’s (1991) Everyday Racism and the later publication of Gloria Wekker’s (2016) White Innocence. The unexpected transformational conjunction of the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA and subsequent resurgence of Black Lives Matter have also shifted understanding of the place of racialisation and ethnicisation in European, as well as other societies. COVID-19, for example, made it painfully clear that gender, nation, migration status, socioeconomic status, disabilities, age, housing and occupation all intersect to produce unequal rates of morbidity and mortality (Bowleg, 2020; Hankivsky and Kapilashrami, 2020). Both Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 have highlighted, and in the case of COVID-19 exacerbated, the gendered, social class, racialised and ethnicised inequities that already existed in European societies, including the Netherlands and the UK (Coyer et al., 2021; Platt and Warwick, 2020). It is, therefore, not possible to treat European societies as if those that have national myths of ‘white innocence’ are unmarked by racialisation and racisms. The fact that racisms and racialisation are rife in European countries makes them less different from the USA than many white Europeans would like to assume. As a result, it is important to contextualise the ways in which people are positioned if research or theorising is to genuinely to contribute to social understandings. At the same time, it is important, as Nash (2018) suggests, for black feminists to eschew defensiveness 20

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about intersectionality that is born of feelings of ownership and territoriality. Equally, as with any other theoretical formulations, scholars and activists are free to choose the issues they foreground in their research and activism. However, it is no longer defensible to assume (as it frequently is in Europe) that racialisation and racisms are incidental or irrelevant to the intersectional context. It is in recognition of this that there is beginning to be an increased interest in the ways in which histories of racism haunt the present (Cain, 2015). This has become a popular concept in recent years, including as in the Toni Morrison novel, Beloved. Davis (2005) identifies two sources that have influenced use of the word hauntology. First, the French philosopher Derrida coined the term in his Spectres of Marx (1994). It plays on the words haunting and ontology and, according to Davis, replaces ‘the priority of being and presence with the figure of the ghost as that which is neither present nor absent, neither dead nor alive’. The second (less acknowledged) source cited by Davis (2005) is from the psychoanalysts Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok (1978)]. This is concerned with transgenerational communication and the ways in which ‘the undisclosed traumas of previous generations might disturb the lives of their descendants even and especially if they know nothing about their distant causes’ (Davis, 2005: 373). It is, therefore, about the ways in which elements from the past return or persist in the present Lincoln and Lincoln (2015) suggest that haunting produces spurs to consciousness and calls for political action that echo Avery Gordon’s (2011) argument that ‘futurity is imbricated or interwoven into the very scene of haunting itself… haunting is an emergent state: the ghost arises, carrying the signs and portents of a repression in the past or the present that is no longer working’. From the perspective of intersectionality, the understanding of which categories are being evoked in any social situation and how social locations, emotional attachments, positioning in relation to nations and power relations (Anthias, 2020; Collins, 2019; Yuval-Davis, 2011) are not necessarily self-evident. Nor can it be assumed that racialised relations are only playing a part in interactions when identified as such. Gilroy (2005) suggests that ‘postcolonial melancholia’ characterises post-slavery nations and results from the denial of the impact of slavery and the losses that would be entailed by acknowledging them. Jane Flax (2010: 3) similarly suggests that denial of the impact of slavery leads to ‘sometimes paralysing wishes to magically erase the living past rather than engage in the arduous processes of realistically facing its effects and constructing practices to ameliorate them’. As a literary scholar, Toni Morrison points out that it takes determined action for white US authors continually to erase black people from existence in their writing, and that the erasure is so concerted that it calls attention to itself. We can agree, I think, that invisible things are not necessarily “not-there”; that a void may be empty but not be a vacuum. In addition, certain absences are so stressed, so ornate, so planned, they call attention to themselves; arrest us with intentionality and purpose, like neighborhoods that are defined by the population held away from them. …What intellectual feats had to be performed by the author or his critic to erase me from a society seething with my presence, and what effect has that performance had on the work?” What are the strategies of escape from knowledge? Of willful oblivion? (Toni Morrison, 1988: 136) For Morrison (1992) as for Gilroy and Flax, slavery is the ‘shadow at the heart’ of the American dream. Since intersectionality and racialisation are both relational, there is an 21

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increasing recognition that whiteness is as much part of intersectionality as is blackness. As Helma Lutz (2014) suggests: Debates about intersectionality and social inequalities can no longer reduce the analysis of gender, class and race to oppression and discrimination but need to consider the “privileged” positionings within and between them – a position that is deeply contested, as many intersectionality scholars implicitly and explicitly cherish a master category of oppression. Intersectionality as a method can avoid this trap. It follows from the above discussion that Foucault’s (1977) ‘history of the present’ is part of the complexity of the intersectionality story and one that fits with Nash’s (2020) focus on an ‘affective politics’. Equally, following Gordon (2011), once hauntings, absences and erasures make their ghostly appearance, it becomes a critical analytic moment, repression no longer works, and something must be done. The final main section of the paper considers examples of how intersectionality can help to illuminate the racialised haunting of society.

Intersectionality, Racialised Hauntings and Psychosocial Eruptions The pervasive haunting produced by racialisation, even in societies that have generally considered themselves homogeneous until recently, is now exercising researchers who do intersectional analyses and seek methodologies to explore ‘racial hauntologies’ in Denmark (Hvenegård-Lassen and Staunæs 2021) or ‘antiracist feminism and queer of colour activism’ in Finland (Keskinen, 2021). This section discusses two examples, the analyses of which show how European societies are haunted by racialisation in ways that are intersectional and help to expand the analytic scope of intersectionality. These are first, a study from northern England on Muslim participants’ everyday experiences of Islamophobia and hatred, and second, psychosocial eruptions of collective social action in Europe.

The Banality of Everyday Intersectional Racialising Practices In a survey and focus group study of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred with 111 participants living in North East England, Hopkins and Clayton (with the organisation Tell Mama, 2020) found that many had been subjected to verbal abuse and some to physical violence. More than half said that they had changed their behaviour because of Islamophobia. The participants said that they had changed their clothing and speech as well as behaving in ways they thought were not characteristic of Muslims in order not to attract attention when out. In addition, some reported wearing earphones in order not to hear abuse and they reported avoidance of going out alone, using public transport, going to certain areas after dark and always avoiding parts of their cities. Some also said that they avoided eye contact and, if any potential altercations arose, they apologised profusely to defuse situations. Their choice of where to live was also conditioned by fears of racist attack or racialised discomfort. Women were more likely than men to report that they had been subjected to racist abuse. From an intersectionality perspective, there is clearly an intersection of gender, religion, ethnicisation, place, space, and temporal rhythm. However, these findings indicate how racialised haunting occurs. The fact that these participants, in keeping with those from other 22

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studies on Islamophobia (e.g., Scott-Bauman et al., 2020) patterned their behaviour meant that, not only were they haunted by racialised and other social intersections, but that other people were also affected by the patterns of their behaviour without even knowing that they were, for example, being avoided or that particular spaces were depopulated of Muslims because of racism and fears of attack. The fact that many white British people would genuinely be able to deny any implication in racism while being implicitly implicated is part of the social haunting produced by the relational banality of everyday racist and racialising practices. Intersectionality thus needs to include what Jennifer Nash (2020) calls affective politics as well as a more nuanced and complex notion of socioeconomic location than is generally understood.

Hauntology and European Psychosocial Eruptions of Collective Social Action While Avery Gordon (2011) focussed on more individual hauntings, her notion that consciousness of hauntings impels future action is apposite for conceptualising intersectionality and the ways in which racisms and racialisation can haunt the social landscape and produce collective campaigns. The example here is of the toppling, or marking, in the UK (and elsewhere) of statues of enslavers following the televised murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white policeman in Minneapolis. A well-publicised example is the stature of George Colston, who was both a cruel slaveholder and a magnanimous philanthropist to the city of Bristol, UK, where he lived. The issue of removing statues of people linked with oppressive practices of enslavement and colonialism may seem to have erupted onto the social scene with the resurgence of Black Lives Matter following George Floyd’s murder. However, it is a movement that had been gradually gaining traction with the successes of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa and in the USA that have partly fuelled heated debates in the UK. Sweeping away statues of repressive/celebrated figures was, thus, an instance of ‘travelling theory’ and practice in that it was already one way of resisting oppression and showing solidarity with those oppressed. The eruption of demonstrations around the world and such actions was not only conscious, but partly fuelled by sudden recognitions of the extensive histories of racist injustice, brought to light by the highly visual casual barbarism of killing a black man and the trauma of watching him die for the nine minutes that it took. In this case, the murder made conscious something that has long haunted US society (with different degrees of awareness and belief), the devaluing of black people’s lives. The mass viewing of this murder impelled recognition in many European societies that the injustices of racism are also endemic in European countries. It stimulated a psychosocial desire for collective action to show revulsion, pain, opposition, solidarity, resistance and protest. The collective protests in many European cities, despite legal restrictions to assembling during the COVID-19 pandemic, built on recognised histories of how to protest, while the toppling of statues built on campaigns to have statues and other hated symbols removed or renamed. The salience of histories is thus an important part of intersectionality. In the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, it produced contingent alliances, where people who differed in many ways joined forces to oppose racism, sometimes carrying banners (such as ‘Trans Black Lives matter’ or ‘#SayHerName’) that foregrounded intersectionality. Similar processes of psychosocial eruption followed the abduction and murder, in the UK, of Sarah Everard, a young woman who was on her way home at 9pm one evening. The 23

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eruption of demonstrations against violence against women in many countries was fuelled by anger and pain that women continue to have to be fearful on public streets in the evening. The personal testimonies and soul searching that followed paralleled and were arguably made more possible because it followed on the heels of the Black Lives Matter protests. They were also enabled by the increasing recognition that society is haunted by everyday sexism (Bates, 2016). However, these protests also produced calls to take an intersectional view of murders of women. The death of Blessing Olusegun, a young Black woman who was found on a seafront in Sussex in September 2020, didn’t make national news initially. A post-mortem confirmed Blessing had drowned and while police have said the investigation remains open and active, they do not believe a crime was committed. In the past week a petition and campaign has gained support for the police to reconsider. The death of a Filipino woman, Bennylyn Burke, and her two-year-old child in Dundee three weeks ago failed to get the same level of attention as Sarah Everard, as did the death of Wenjing Lin in Wales earlier this month. Where were the thoughts and prayers from politicians for these women? Who was organising vigils or charities in their name? It’s obvious that not all women are mourned in the same way. (Mariam Khan, MSN News, 19/03/2021, To make a difference after Sarah Everard’s death, you must stand up for women of colour too) ( Asked on UK radio about Sarah Everard’s murder, the feminist psychoanalytic scholar, Jacqueline Rose, raised the issue of two mixed-parentage sisters murdered in a park nine months before Sarah Everard and invokes Jacqueline Rose: Well, there’s a one-word answer to this and that’s racism as if those lives aren’t valued in the same way…. Sexism and racism are the two answers to your question. BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour 19/03/21 The intersectionality here includes temporality, nation, and history. It also requires theorisation of the triggering effects of particular social events, such as George Floyd’s murder and, again, includes affective politics (Nash, 2020). The outpouring of personal testimonies that have been impelled by this wave of Black Lives Matter is produced and facilitated by the intersections above and are differentiated by gender, racialisation and social class. In the aftermath of the protests, some alliances across different groups are continuing, while others have become quiescent. This demonstrates that intersections can produce contingent alliances from different trajectories that have different future possibilities that are related to positioning within antiracist, and other, struggles.

In Conclusion: Intersectional Complexities and Futurity in Process The examples and arguments presented above caution against the essentialising of racialised/national intersections by showing that shared histories and shared mediated views of racisms and sexisms can produce psychosocial eruptions of activism and theorisation fuelled 24

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by intersectional understandings in many different countries. It is, therefore, important to recognise the complexities inherent in transatlantic connections and debates on intersectionality. European trajectories of intersectionality are, therefore, subject to comparable psychosocial eruptions, but located in, and aimed at, European, rather than US targets. The psychosocial eruptions that marked 2020 and 2021 demonstrate that historical relations of, for example, racism, colonialism, enslavement, and sexism are important to intersectional research and analyses. This chapter has argued that the fact that racisms and racialisation are rife in European countries make it important to contextualise the ways in which people are socially positioned in more holistic ways than has frequently been the case if research or theorising is to genuinely to contribute to social understandings. This means that, while scholars and activists are free to choose the issues they foreground in their research and activism, that it is frequently too simplistic t assume that racialisation and racisms are irrelevant to European research. The bringing together of intersectionality and ‘haunting’ is beginning to illuminate productive ways of making theorisations of society and the social more complex in both research and activism than has previously been the case.

Note 1 McCall’s (2005) typology of research methods drawing on intersectionality at the turn of the century aimed to document the ways in which intersectionality was already being employed in research. It did not attempt to draw geographical boundaries around particular methods.

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Ann Phoenix Crenshaw K (1989) Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. u. Chi. Legal f. HeinOnline: 139. Crenshaw K (1991) Mapping the Margins: Identity Politics, Intersectionality, and Violence against Women. Stanford Law Review 43(6): 1241–1299. Davis AY (1983) Women, Race and Class. Vintage. Davis C (2005) Hauntology, Spectres and Phantoms. French Studies 59(3). Oxford University Press: 373–379. Davis K (2008) Intersectionality as Buzzword: A Sociology of Science Perspective on What Makes a Feminist Theory Successful. Feminist Theory 9(1). SAGE Publications: 67–85. Davis K (2020) Who Owns Intersectionality? Some Reflections on Feminist Debates on How Theories Travel. European Journal of Women’s Studies 27(2). SAGE Publications: 113–127. Derrida J (1994) Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, translated by Peggy Kamuf. Routledge. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (n.d.) Pantheon. Essed P (1991) Understanding Everyday Racism: An Interdisciplinary Theory. SAGE. Evans E and Lépinard É (2019) Intersectionality in Feminist and Queer Movements: Confronting Privileges. Routledge. Fanon F (1952) The Fact of Blackness. Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology 15(32), 2–40. Flax J (2010) Resonances of Slavery in Race/Gender Relations: Shadow at the Heart of American Politics. Springer. Foucault M (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Pantheon. Gilroy P (2005) Postcolonial Melancholia. Columbia University Press. Gordon A (2011) Some Thoughts on Haunting and Futurity. Borderlands 10(2), 1–21. Hankivsky O and Kapilashrami A (2020) Intersectionality Offers a Radical Rethinking of Covid-19. BMJ 20(9): 26. Hopkins P, Clayton J and Tell Mama (2020) Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hatred in North East England. Newcastle University. Available at: uploads/2020/06/ISLAMOPHOBIA-AND-ANTI-MUSLIM-HATRED-IN-NORTH-EASTENGLAND-090620.pdf. Hull GT, Hull AG, Bell-Scott P, et al. (1982) All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies. Feminist Press. Hvenegård-Lassen K and Staunæs D (2021) Shooting the Elephant in the (prayer) Room: Politics of Moods, Racial Hauntologies and Idiomatic Diffraction. In: V. Bozalek, M. Zembylas, S. Motala, and D. Holscher (eds.). Higher Education Hauntologies: Living with Ghosts for a Justice-toCome. Routledge: 50–62. Keskinen S (2021) Antiracist Feminism and the Politics of Solidarity in Neoliberal Times. In: S. Keskinen, P. Stoltz & D. Mulinari (eds), Feminisms in the Nordic Region. Springer: 201–221. Lewis G (2013) Unsafe Travel: Experiencing Intersectionality and Feminist Displacements. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 38(4). University of Chicago Press: 869–892. Lincoln M and Lincoln B (2015) Toward a Critical Hauntology: Bare Afterlife and the Ghosts of Ba Chúc. Comparative Studies in Society and History 57(1). Cambridge University Press: 191–220. Lutz H (2014) Intersectionality’s (Brilliant) Career-How to Understand the Attraction of the Concept? Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg. McCall L (2005) The Complexity of Intersectionality. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30(3). The University of Chicago Press: 1771–1800. Morrison T (1988) Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Afro-American Presence in American Literature. Michigan Quarterly Review, 28(11), 121–163. Morrison T (1992) Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Vintage. Nash JC (2016) Feminist Originalism: Intersectionality and the Politics of Reading. Feminist Theory 17(1). SAGE Publications: 3–20. Nash JC (2018) Black Feminism Reimagined. Duke University Press. Nash JC (2020) Practicing Love: Black Feminism, Love-Politics, and Post-Intersectionality. Meridians 19(S1). Duke University Press: 439–462. Patel S (2016) A decolonial lens on cities and urbanisms: Reflections on the system of petty production in India. Asia Research Institute Working Paper 245, A Decolonial Lens on Cities and Urbanisms: Reflections on the System of Petty Production in India (


European Trajectories of Intersectionality Phoenix S (2011) Re-narrating Feminist Stories: Black British Women and Transatlantic Feminisms. In: K. Davis and M. Evans (eds.) Transatlantic Conversations: Feminism as Travelling Theory. Ashgate: 55–68 Platt L and Warwick R (2020) COVID-19 and Ethnic Inequalities in England and Wales. Fiscal Studies 41(2). Wiley Online Library: 259–289. Prins B (2006) Narrative Accounts of Origins: A Blind Spot in the Intersectional Approach? European Journal of Women’s Studies 13(3). SAGE Publications: 277–290. Rattans A and Phoenix A (2005) Rethinking Youth Identities: Modernist and Postmodernist Frameworks. Identity 5(2). Taylor & Francis: 97–123. Tomlinson B (2013) To Tell the Truth and Not Get Trapped: Desire, Distance, and Intersectionality at the Scene of Argument. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 38(4). University of Chicago Press: 993–1017. Tomlinson B (2018) Category Anxiety and the Invisible White Woman: Managing Intersectionality at the Scene of Argument. Feminist Theory 19(2). SAGE Publications: 145–164. Wekker G (2016) White Innocence. Duke University Press. Yuval-Davis N (2011) The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations. SAGE.


3 INTERSECTIONALITY Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe Kornelia Slavova and Rumiana Stoilova

Since the 1990s intersectionality has become a major tool for research in the humanities and social sciences in North America and Western Europe in fields as diverse as legal studies, critical race studies, transgender studies, disability studies, globalisation studies, and many others. However, its journey to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)1 has been delayed due to several local and global factors: the legacy of the communist regime (advocating universal employment and equal pay, which made gender inequality issues irrelevant), lack of women’s social and political movements, local resistance to Western feminism, and little knowledge of intersectionality as an analytical apparatus and other related theories. The divisions among Western scholars surrounding the meaning and operation of ‘intersectionality’ (as a method, buzzword, theory, or concept) have brought further confusion.2 A huge catalyst for the dissemination of intersectionality in the region was the accession of CEE countries into the European Union (EU) and the need to harmonise their legislation and government policies with EU gender politics and anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, the latter process (which took place at the beginning of the 21st century) coincided with a major shift in EU equality policy—the intersectional turn from focussing solely on gender equality towards an extended focus on several characteristics which can result in discrimination, such as gender, class, race/ethnicity, age, disability, and sexual orientation. In this chapter we trace the appropriation of intersectionality and its regional modalities in four member states of the EU: Hungary and the Czech Republic (since 2004), and Bulgaria and Romania (since 2007). As former totalitarian socialist states, they share a similar history related to the communist regime after 1944 and the complex transition to a market economy and liberal democracy after 1989, which multiplied and intensified social divisions and inequalities. These divisions and inequalities are most visible among women from ethnic minority groups—especially Roma women with low levels of education, who were the first to lose their jobs during privatisation, and who became trapped by both the traditional patriarchal norms within the family and by the demands of the global labour market. Important questions are raised when looking at intersecting forms of discrimination and oppression, and how they have—or have not—been tackled: how has the understanding of intersectionality changed having been twice displaced from the US to Western Europe, and then to the post-Soviet world? What elements are worth adopting or adapting? DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-4 28

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Is intersectionality a useful tool in academic and policy papers only? Or does it facilitate the mobilisation of diverse social groups to fight oppression and discrimination?

The Missing Categories and Links Little empirical work has been carried out on the ground in strictly intersectional terms, yet the case of CEE can be interesting for scientists and activists internationally. Not only has it been studied less, but also the intense social and political transformations of the past 30 years have not been easily ‘translated’ into Western analytical categories and frameworks such as the dominant post-colonial or post-modernist paradigms. The appropriation of intersectionality in the post-communist world has been hampered by many factors, including the different understanding and uses of the very concepts that intersectionality works with, such as gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, heteronormativity, and others. These major analytical concepts were blind spots in the communist ideology of sameness and equality; they were employed neither separately nor in an intertwined form in a society that primarily promoted collective identifications such as ‘the people’ or ‘the working class’. Intersectional theory has built upon diverse strands of Western theorising such as Black feminism, feminist historical materialism, lesbian and queer feminism, ecofeminism, postcolonial and race studies, whiteness studies—another group of blind spots in Soviet social sciences. The missing conceptual and theoretical apparatus, cultural voids and missing links have also hindered the development of intersectionality in CEE: the absence of broader grassroots political and social movements (not imposed by the Communist party after the end of the Second World War until the fall of the Berlin Wall), little organised activism, resistance to Western feminism, the absence of local gender-sensitive knowledge to facilitate the understanding of intersectionality within wider circles beyond the social sciences, gaps between theory and practice, and so on (Miroiu 2004, Slavova 2006, Jusová and Šiklová 2016). Let us look at the shifting meanings of three major analytical categories as well as their use and understanding under different political and social systems. It is appropriate to start with ‘gender’—the category through which intersectionality has been transplanted into CEE. Gender was introduced in/as translation in the early 1990s as part of the overall Western liberal project of democracy building. The concept was taken up by women’s NGOs, academic institutions as well as political organisations in the region. There has been a constant struggle over how to translate it and use it in a non-Anglophone context, accompanied by many twists and abuses. After the EU accession, gender gained greater visibility in CEE as part of EU gender equality legislation. Recently, however, there has been a backlash globally and locally: gender has been contested and disputed by the new right, followed by anti-gender campaigns, and the closure of academic programmes in gender studies in Hungary and Romania (Pető and Grzebalska 2018; Krizsan and Roggeband 2019; Graff 2021). As of 2020, the concept of gender has been totally dismantled and emptied of meaning, even acquiring a pejorative connotation as comprising inherently ‘anti-family values’ rather than simply referring to the social dimensions that comprise sexual identity (Slavova 2020). Intersectionality has been approached in the region primarily through gender. Now that gender is contested, the understanding of intersectionality is blocked even further. More problematic still is the use of the category ‘race’ in CEE societies and social sciences. A central pillar of intersectionality, it emerged in the US in response to Black feminist critiques of lack of attention to race and racism within feminist theory and practice (Crenshaw 1989, 1991). Similar to many European countries (Germany, France, Nordic countries, 29

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and others), the term race has been avoided in the post-communist world. For example, the traditional way to refer to Roma is by using the term ‘ethnic’ minority: Roma people are not perceived as belonging to a particular race, although the prejudice and discrimination they face due to their perceived ethnic otherness is comparable to racism. Bulgarian Turks and Pomaks3 are defined as ‘ethno-religious groups’ because of their link with the Islamic faith. Muslims face less discrimination than Roma people because they generally have a higher level of education and more secure employment (as well as political representation in Parliament). The majority of the Roma population, however, is poor and dependent on social welfare. On the whole, Jews and Armenians in the region belong to the middle class, are well-integrated and rarely face discrimination. The troubled history of religion in the region (especially in the Balkans), further complicated by the communist rejection of any religion as being ‘opium of the people’, the specific geopolitical and national context as well as the risk of essentialising race and racism (especially when mistaken as a category of biological difference) may explain the tradition of using the term ‘ethnicity’ rather than ‘race’.4 Of course, part of the explanation may lie in the region’s Soviet past, as all inequalities based on gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation were erased and rhetorically claimed to be solved (although deep-seated prejudices have remained).5 ‘Class’ is the only analytical category that has been more visible in CEE research due to the Marxist heritage within the social sciences, although its use has been far from consistent. For more than four decades, communist dogmas demanded a class-centred approach to every possible area of research—from literary analysis to sociology—ignoring any other category of human difference. Under communism, Marx’s concept of class (the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat) was replaced by Lenin’s understanding of the two friendly classes of workers and peasants, along with the intelligentsia. Lenin’s understanding did not correspond to socialist reality, and researchers therefore focussed on socio-professional groups and their different levels of education—qualified and unqualified—performing different types of labour (clerks, workers engaged in manual labour in industry as well as in agriculture).6 Obviously, in the socialist ‘utopia’ of façadeequality and collectivism there was very little room left for individual differences and there existed few legitimate axes of social difference such as age, region, education, and urban versus rural. In the early 1990s, during the transition towards liberal democracy, many sociologists adopted Max Weber’s complex view of class and stratification. Stratification captures multiple inequalities among individuals and social groups that have different life chances and social status. Today intersectionality has brought back the significance of class in analysing mechanisms of social exclusion or gendered hierarchies in a post-communist context, although it is defined primarily through socio-professional status and level of education (Stoilova 2012). In view of the conceptual confusion surrounding major analytical categories and the missing links between them, it is not surprising that social sciences in the region began their initial involvement with intersectionality with what Leslie McCall has called ‘intracategorical research—i.e., focussing on particular social groups at neglected points of intersection’ rather than ‘inter-categorical’ and ‘anti-categorical’ analysis (2005: 1773). As a result, greater attention has been paid to the feminisation of poverty or disability rather than the exploration of relationships among multiple dimensions of inequality and multiple sites and systems of oppression. However, the constantly growing inequalities in income, access to education, and healthcare; the uneven chances for upward mobility, limited by low family status, gender, and ethnic origin, have demanded complex tools for analysis (Katsarska 30

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and Monova 2018). Along these lines, EU standards regarding equal treatment legislation, gender mainstreaming, minimising gender pay gaps, gradual equalisation of retirement age for women and men, as well as domestic violence and human trafficking have paved the way for the institutionalisation of intersectionality in a number of public domains in CEE. The following three sections will discuss how intersectionality has been employed in research, activism, and policymaking.

Intersectionality: A Tool for Interdisciplinary Research Intersectionality has been adopted rather unsystematically in CEE: there is no uniform understanding of the Anglo-American term and no consistent translation equivalent (usually named through proxies such as ‘multiple discrimination’ or ‘multiple inequalities’ which are easier to understand and closer to everyday thinking and vocabulary). The earliest attempts at intersectional research in the region came from within the circle of feminist and gender scholars, who turned their attention to previously invisible groups of women. After the collapse of communism, interdisciplinary teams of historians, linguists, and sociologists collaborated to record everyday life practices under the recent communist past as well as the rapid changes during the transitional post-communist period. Many researchers employed structured interviews as they allowed them to choose respondents that corresponded to the socially significant divisions in society along gender, ethnicity, religion, and age. (Several generations of women had had different experiences of the communist regime as well as different life chances during the societal transformation, which began in the 1990s.) These interviews were a very effective method of empirical research on how categories are linked on a daily basis: they produced experiential knowledge ‘in the first person singular’, which breathed life into segregated data and numerical figures from statistics. One such project on intersectionality as lived experience was carried out in 2002 by the Bulgarian Association of University Women. Researchers collected life-story interviews with 75 women of diverse ethnic and professional backgrounds such as teachers, journalists, writers, actresses, medical doctors, and peasants of Christian Orthodox, Muslim, Armenian-Gregorian, and Jewish religious affiliation. Entitled Voices of Their Own: Between Oral History and Gender History,7 the research employed gender as a useful lens to explore what it means to be a woman in Bulgaria under three different political regimes during the 20th century. It looked at the value of work and family as both sites of selfimprovement and support as well as locations of pressure and coercion. Despite similar gender expectations and cultural assumptions, the life trajectories in the study pull in different directions precisely because of the way gender intersects differently with class, education, ethnicity, religion, and generation in each life-story. For example, the interviews demonstrate that for most Muslim women, family structure and marriage are more influential factors than gendered aspects of education and work. This is suggested in the story of Naila (35 years of age, living in a remote village with her two children); her husband is a migrant worker abroad, and she has stayed behind with the children, stuck at home. Naila’s narrative is an example of a female biography constructed in terms of selfdenial in the name of the family and the patriarchal traditions of the small village in which she lives. Her silence can also be interpreted as a subtle form of inequality—the impossibility to voice her desires in the public space and to control her own life. The interviews point to many commonalities but also caution against homogenising generalisations and readymade classifications according to set categories. Another Muslim woman, who identifies as 31

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Turkish, demonstrates much greater independence from imposed gender and family norms. Gyulnaz M (42 years of age, economist, with one child, living in a big city) tells a very different story: ‘On the whole, I am quite rebellious. First, when I married a Bulgarian. That was quite a blow to my family. And even bringing him home to live with me… Another moment was when our names were forcefully changed’ (in Daskalova et al. 2003: 87). Here she refers to the mid-1980s when the communist regime forced Bulgarian ethnic Turks to take Christian names as part of its assimilationist politics.8 For her the most valuable thing is freedom: ‘People have to grow constantly, and they have to strive for freedom’ (in Daskalova et al. 2003: 89). Gyulnaz’s story emphasises the importance of political power intersecting with gendered dimensions of ethnicity and religion; her narrative brings to the surface the restrictive power of the communist regime, which for some ethnic groups was perceived as a much more oppressive system than patriarchy. Religion served as a marker of ethnicisation/racialisation under communism but not in a homogenised manner. This is shown in the interviews with three generations of women from the same family (Jewish, university graduates, living in the capital city, middle-class). Adella H (86 years of age, retired, widow, with two children, mother of Nadia H, and grandmother of Katia H), has survived the vicissitudes of the Balkan Wars, First World War and Second World War, fascism, and communism, and believes that her family and her job have defined her. Directly after the collapse of communism, Nadia (47 years of age, medical doctor) emigrates to Israel with her daughter Katia and finds a job at a major hospital in the host country; nevertheless, she returns home a few years later. The granddaughter, Katia (26 years of age, single), learns Hebrew in Israel, and upon returning to Bulgaria becomes a translator, capitalising on her education, religion, family, profession, and age. The women’s more recent success stories reveal new mobility patterns where middle-class women can overcome language, social and professional barriers and become citizens of the world. Unlike them, lower middle-class, uneducated women face very limited (if any) mobility options: they are forced to seek jobs abroad as ‘care workers’ or ‘the new maids’. Care work migration has been and still is the driver of the feminisation of migration: millions of Eastern European women are now working as caregivers and maids in Southern and Western European households.9 Yet another group of migrant women has even fewer options for survival: they face exclusion from the labour market and citizenship, discrimination because of their nationality and gender, and even the risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. Intersectional research has thrown light on such ‘invisible’ vulnerable groups, including women from the region who migrate to Western Europe, Muslim women, or— most often—Roma women.10 It is not surprising that many scholars in CEE see this as the most suitable framework to tackle the specific situation of Roma women (Degani 2012; D’Agostino 2019) as it simultaneously takes into account ethnicity-based discrimination and gender-based oppression, revealing how gender is affected by ethnicity and vice versa, how ethnicity is gendered. In Romani11 gender studies, intersectional approaches were also embraced as effective tools for doing both critical research and analysis—especially when the so-called ‘Roma issue’ became a European issue. All four countries discussed here have sizable Roma populations, which suffer from higher levels of poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality, injustice, segregation of schools, and other serious problems. The vulnerability of this ethnic group is most visible in the situation of Roma women where the three major dimensions of inequality intersect—class, ethnicity, and gender. If we follow Giddens’ definition of ‘underclass’ (long-term or periodic unemployment, short-term and uncertain employment, long-term dependency on social 32

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levels of education and ethnic minority status affect women’s positioning in the family differently: young women who belong to a minority ethnic group spend more time in unpaid housework than young women who do not belong to an ethnic minority group. As far as men are concerned, scholars have not registered any statistically significant effect of minority status on participation in domestic work (Stoilova, Ilieva, Bieri 2020). Alongside class, gender, ethnicity, and age variables, the study reveals the importance of welfare policies too: women living in liberal, Mediterranean (family-oriented) or post-socialist countries report more time spent on housework in comparison to women who live in Nordic states with social-democratic regimes.12 Intersectional analysis of various configurations of inequality between and within social groups can prescribe more flexible policy measures for advancing individual opportunities. These include raising the education of men and women from poorly educated families; increasing access of minority children to accessible, affordable, and inclusive daily childcare; and ensuring opportunities for additional education and training for unemployed and inactive women with low education levels and no professional qualifications. There is no doubt that the combination of social protection, employment, and education policy can bring about a better work–life balance and quality of life both for men and women on lower incomes with an ethnic and/or migrant background. The areas of research affected by intersectionality have increased rapidly in the region. The 2018 Special issue of the Czech journal Gender and Research: Intersectional Approach in Social Inequalities Research includes a whole gamut of new research clusters such as gendered homelessness; single motherhood among minority ethnic groups; the intersection of age dimensions and migrant status among migrant workers; sexuality and age discrimination of the LGBT community; the intersection of disability and gender in education; and gender and age discrimination through language. The thematic issue also contains several papers on ageism and sexuality-related discrimination—two under-researched areas in post-communist societies. What merits additional attention is the wide choice of methodologies used in support of the intersectional analysis, from critical discourse analysis through ethnographic semi-structured interviews to interaction theory and representative empirical surveys. This all combines to address serious problems in society such as discrimination and segregation, sexism and homophobia in the media, exclusions from the healthcare system or the labour market, social gerontology, structural inequalities and representations of vulnerable groups.

Intersectionality: A Mobilising Force for Activism The connection between intersectional theory and practice has always been rather negligible in CEE—similar to the connection between feminist theory and practice in the region. Yet intersectionality has managed to move beyond the circles of social sciences, helping activists and policymakers understand the limitations of just one category or one framework to explain power structures. For example, the trafficking of women in Roma communities has been a serious issue since the collapse of communism. For years, however, it was analysed simply as a women’s issue without linking it to class and ethnicity (the rapidly deteriorating position of women from poor family backgrounds and belonging to a marginalised ethnic community). The structural inequalities of Roma women in the family and society make them much more vulnerable to violence and abuse as revealed in La Strada’s Report on trafficking in women from the Roma communities in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The list 34

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of risk factors is long, including unemployment, poverty, low education, drug and alcohol addiction, family background, ignorance about fundamental human rights and the legal system, growing numbers of emigrating Roma and, last but not least, exoticisation of the Roma women for potential purchasers (Kubalkova 2004: 3). The report discusses specific cases of verbal and physical abuse, forced prostitution, unpaid labour, as well as threats of being shamed within the Roma community which leads to unwillingness to testify. Case studies of violence from within the family or the Roma communities themselves, which usually remain unreported, expose domestic violence as one of the worst sites of multiple oppression where gender, age, family status, and citizenship intersect in a complex cluster. The most disturbing case of multiple exclusion of Roma women has been reported by the European Roma Rights Centre: between 2005 and 2007 in Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, some Roma women were subjected to coercive sterilisation through invasive surgical procedures, which made future pregnancy impossible. In her analysis of these cases Kristina Koldinská argues that involuntary sterilisations are an example of intersectional discrimination, as they are carried out only on Roma and only on women. Moreover, in these specific cases discrimination occurs twice. First, the women are discriminated against by the majority society. Second, sterilised Roma women are discriminated against in their own environment as women who cannot bear children. (2009: 557) Such continued practices of structural and symbolic oppression in the private and public spheres make Roma women the most vulnerable group in the region. The official institutions in the respective countries reacted differently but without the strong reaction from NGOs, these sterilisation cases would have been hidden from the public. This is why legal scholars claim that ‘if intersectionality has to be institutionalized in the CEE countries, this can probably not be done without the active contribution of NGOs’ (Koldinská 2009: 558). Because of the insufficient level of intersectionality practice at state level in CEE countries, as well as the gap between legal recognition and actual implementation of EU directives, NGOs have played a major role in pushing for change in society, putting pressure on legislative bodies, and collaborating with newly established equality bodies. There have been some forms of women’s activism by separate groups disadvantaged in healthcare and/or education (for example, mothers’ groups of disabled children) but Romani NGOs have been the most vocal in the region in the struggle for equality—especially after the launch of the Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005–2015), which boosted national and regional mobilisation and collaboration. In a region with over six million Romani citizens facing deprivation and social marginalisation, there have been few forms of activism, especially among women. One productive alliance is the Roma Women’s initiative (RWI), where Romani women collaborate with non-Romani feminists to pursue their rights as women in the context of human rights and transnational feminism, while simultaneously critiquing Romani traditions and gender politics. Despite the conflicts with the nascent Roma rights movements (often accused of betraying the Roma community or diverting attention from challenging injustice), the alliance has been considered ‘a model for intersectional feminist practice’ (Schultz 2012: 37). Recently, Romani and non-Romani women activists have engaged more intensely with intersecting politics of difference and inequalities by adding sexuality to the axes of 35

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ethnicity, gender, and class. In her discussion of the newly emerging Romani LGBTQ movement, Vera Kurtić describes the Romani lesbian experience as the most marginalised, as it poses ‘a threat to the very patriarchal system’ (2013: 9). Sometimes the in-between position of Roma activists and the difficult local conditions make them forge their own types of coalitions or ‘intersectional in(visible) mobilisations’. For example, in her discussion of Romani women’s activism in Romania and Bulgaria, Serena D’Agostino challenges the principle of ‘inclusivity’ in intersectional research. Instead, she offers a comparative framework based on five categories (strategy, agencies, repertoire, alliances, and positioning visà-vis the wider Romani movement), claiming that ‘domestic activists can create their own type of intersectional mobilisation regardless of their inclusion in and/or exclusion from more powerful mainstreamed movements’ (2019: 12).

Intersectionality: A Useful Tool for Policymaking In her study Missing Intersectionality. Race/Ethnicity, Gender and Class in Current Research and Policies on Romani Women Angéla Kóczé (Chair of Romani Studies Program at Central European University, Budapest) argues that there is still ‘no significant shift in policy debates that would indicate the integration of an intersectional understanding of Romani women’s social position’ (2009: 15). It is obvious however that the accession of CEE countries into the EU has served as a huge catalyst for boosting intersectional research, policymaking, and political practice—often blurring the clear-cut demarcation lines between them. The Romani women’s movement is a good example: as a multi-faceted political project it combines ‘grassroots activism, agency, participation in EU politics, political mobilization through national and transnational networks, through EU institutions, the UN etc’ (Kóczé et al. 2019: 16). International structures of human rights have been a major force in introducing intersectionality as both relational and locational methodology in CEE: they have been instrumental in improving Roma integration by providing funding for Roma equality, designing specific communication activities to fight discrimination against Roma, as well as promoting European Roma summits, platforms, and other transnational policies.13 EU legislation itself has gone a long way: in 2000 it started with the so-called Equality Directives, followed by the concept of ‘multiple discrimination’ (EC 2007), and only later— in the discussions surrounding Romani women—it embraced ‘multiple and intersectional discrimination’ (EP 2013). The latest EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020–202514 emphasises the significance of intersectionality for achieving a gender-equal Europe: The intersectionality of gender with other grounds of discrimination will be addressed across EU policies. Women are a heterogeneous group and may face intersectional discrimination based on several personal characteristics. […] The forthcoming Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion and the EU strategic frameworks on disability, LGBTI+, Roma inclusion and children’s rights will be linked to this strategy and to each other. Moreover, the intersectional perspective will always inform gender ­equality policies. (2020: article 4) It takes time for these developments in structural and political intersectionality to become a norm in CEE. Gender equality and anti-discrimination laws were new to the post-Soviet 36

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member states, which have adopted and adapted the EU anti-discrimination measures and directives in diverse ways. Some countries (Slovakia and Hungary) made changes in their constitutions and adopted an anti-discrimination act; others (the Czech Republic) amended various existent acts and extended the power of existing bodies, whereas others still (Bulgaria and Romania) created new laws and equality bodies to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Equality institutions deal with political intersectionality and they are extremely useful as regulatory mechanisms or consultancy units. As Andrea Krizsan insists, they play a very significant role in institutionalising intersectionality in CEE countries as ‘the patriarchal, anti-gender equality framing is more present in them than in most post-industrial EU states’ as they have ‘relatively young and weak women’s movements and a small number of feminist NGOs as well as slow and insufficient judicial systems’ (2012: 5). The post-socialist countries under discussion here have taken their own paths in their movement from gender equality legislation to broader anti-discrimination bodies, addressing multiple discrimination.15 At the same time, the level of institutionalisation of intersectionality in the region varies due to a number of factors such as the ‘role, strength, and strategies of feminist civil society, economic and institutional traditions, timing of civil society mobilisation, and the influence of transnational feminist cooperation on domestic mobilisation’ (Krizsan and Zentai 2012: 180). The content of policies is not enough, however. The implementation of policies and the work of local institutions are equally important. Serena D’Agostino uses policies towards Roma women in Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania as test cases to check to ‘what extent intersectionality is incorporated in European equality policies’ (2015: 97). She designs five criteria that can foster a more comprehensive policy analysis: (1) presence of relevant equality bodies and institutions; (2) explicit referencing to multiple and/or intersectional discrimination in national anti-discrimination and equality legislation; (3) use of intersectional vocabulary in policy documents; (4) subsidised projects and/or programmes; and (5) existence of relevant subsidised CSOs. Based on comparative data, D’Agostino concludes: Although Roma women are generally recognised as victims of a unique discrimination situation, the concept of intersectional discrimination is not yet embedded in policies and legislation at national level and tends to be neglected and/or treated implicitly in the four country studies. Conversely, a rather explicit use of the term ‘multiple discrimination’ can be detected. Romania and Bulgaria explicitly address multiple discrimination in their anti-discrimination legislation and tend towards multi-strand equality institutions. Hungary and Slovakia are still based on single-strand equality regimes but their NRIS explicitly mention multiple discrimination with reference to Roma women. (2015: 106) As the above analysis indicates, these four countries have shown slow progress towards, and poor implementation of, intersectional policies—despite consistent attempts to improve equality legislation and the work of bureaucratic institutions. The most indicative example of their failure to put gender equality into practice goes back to 2019 when six EU member states (among them Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, and Hungary) refused to ratify or retroactively suspended the Istanbul Convention on the prevention and combating 37

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of violence against women and domestic violence in general.16 Politicians from the respective countries explain the refusal citing the strong opposition to the Convention’s ‘gender ideology’ on behalf of conservative religious, nationalist, and far-right groups and parties. In fact, the resistance is rooted not in the content of the document but in the deeper fears of institutionalising gender equality (which has already gone beyond the private sphere), including fears that the state will intervene in family life as well as fears of expanding transgender rights.

Conclusion The examples in this chapter from the fields of research, political activism, and policymaking demonstrate that Central and Eastern Europe is part of the geopolitical expansion of intersectionality, linking societal structures and power relations on a global scale. With the emergence of new forms of nationalism against ethnic minorities and migrants, anti-democratic coalitions around sexism and religion as well as the overall process of ‘democratic backsliding’ in CEE (Kriszan and Roggeband 2019), intersectional thinking is becoming more and more urgent in handling cultural difference and social justice. In fact, intersectional thinking has arisen—precisely as thinking in/through difference—as a useful analytical framework to address stigmatisation, segregation, exclusion and discrimination of women and other marginalised groups. This is why we believe that in the precarious future of difference, intersectionality will be employed on a much bigger scale in CEE countries where gender hierarchies and social inequalities lurk in every corner of society. At the same time, as an Anglo-American creation dating from the 1980s and applied to the post-Soviet world with its different histories, traditions, and hierarchies, it is only natural that intersectionality has encountered obstacles and contradictions. In the postcommunist context, there has been a broader and looser understanding of intersectionality: as an intersectional way of exploring social relationships and identities positioned in multiple categories rather than addressing the very systems that produce identities and maintain inequalities and hierarchies. This has made the concept useful in a greater number of disciplines. However, it has taken the edge off its original meaning as rooted in the antiracist struggle, and has hampered the process of policy implementation. Another regional modality is the significance of local hierarchies in intersectional thinking: some social and political divisions in the region have been more significant than others (such as those related to the political regime of communism, patriarchy, division between paid and unpaid work, domestic violence, ethnicity/migrant status, and religion), whereas others have been neglected (such as heteronormativity, LGBTQ, disability, colonialism, and institutional oppression). Despite these regional variations and limitations, as part of EU legislation intersectionality has already become a major tool of social and political justice in Central and Eastern Europe.

Notes 1 The umbrella term ‘Central and Eastern Europe’ implies degrees of commonality among the former communist states with similar social and political backgrounds. The labels ‘(post)communist’ and ‘(post)socialist’ will be used interchangeably. 2 See A. Phoenix and P. Pattynama (eds.), Special Issue on Intersectionality, The European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2006, 13(3); V. M. May, Pursuing Intersectionality, Unsettling Dominant ­Imaginaries. New York: Routledge 2015; K. Davis, Who Owns Intersectionality? Some Reflections


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3 4 5

6 7




11 12 13 14 15 16

on Feminist Debates on How Theories Travel, The European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2020, 27(2): 113–127. Orthodox Christians who converted to Islam during the Ottoman rule in the Balkans. On the tensions concerning race in Europe see G. Lewis, Unsafe Travels: Experiencing Intersectionality and Feminist Displacements, Signs, 2013, 38(4): 869–892. Paradoxically, due to Soviet internationalism, anti-capitalism, and anti-imperialism, race was ‘used’ by the communist regimes when seeking alliances with Black Marxism and Black feminism (for example, Angela Davis was a star in the Soviet world, having received her PhD from Humboldt University in East Berlin). See G. Conrad and I. Szelenyi, The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979), where they argue that the rising intelligentsia will ally with the oppressed working class. 25 selected interviews were published in the bilingual collection Voices of Their Own: Between Oral History and Gender History [Tehnite sobstveni glassove. Interviewta po ustna istoria] (eds). K. Daskalova, D. Koleva, T. Kotseva, R. Roshkeva, and R. Stoilova; trans. R. Muharska and E. Stoicova; Sofia: POLIS, 2003. In 1985 the Communist Party forcefully changed the names of Bulgarian ethnic Turks to Bulgarian ones; in 1989, as a result, 900,000 Bulgarian Muslims emigrated to Turkey. The biblical term ‘exodus’ captures best the many-faceted process (see R. Avramov, Economy of the Revival Process, 2016 Sofia: Center for Advanced Study). In 1990, during the very beginning of democratic changes in Bulgaria, they regained their Muslim names with the support of the majority of the Bulgarian population. See H. Lutz, The New Maids: Transnational Women and the Care Economy (London and New York: Zed Books, 2011); H. Lutz, Care Migration: The Connectivity between Care Chains, Care Circulation and Transnational Social Inequality, Current Sociology Monograph, 2018, 66(4): 577–589; R. Stoilova and K. Slavova, Spatial Mobility and Gender Inequality, Sociological problems, Special Issue in English. BAS Journal, 2006: 190–208; M. Morokvasi, Settled in Mobility: Engendering Post-wall Migration in Europe. Feminist Review, 2004, 77(1): 7–25. See S. Ilieva, Employment policies for social inclusion of Roma population and refugees in Bulgaria (PhD Thesis, New Bulgarian University, 2018); S. Darakchi, Dynamic Changes in the Understanding of Gender, Sexuality and Marriage among Bulgarian Muslims: The Case of Breznitsa village (PhD Thesis, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2013). ‘Roma’ is used as an umbrella term for different related groups in Europe, whereas ‘Romani’ is an adjective. On welfare regimes see G. Esping-Anderson, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. See the platform Roma in the EU at: combatting-discrimination/roma-eu_en Available at: For example, the Office of the Ombudsman in the Czech Republic (1998/ 2009), The National Coalition for Combatting Discrimination in Romania (2002), The Equal Treatment Authority in Hungary (2005) or the Commission for Protection against Discrimination in Bulgaria (2005). The Istanbul Convention, adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011, was signed by the EU in June 2017. It introduces legally binding standards to prevent gender-based violence, to protect victims, and punish perpetrators. For analysis on the reactions in the region see E. Slavova, Translating Gender, Transgressing Reason, and the Misappropriation of Judith Butler in Bulgarian Public Discourse. (ed.) E. Slavova, Traditions and Transitions, Sofia: Sofia University Press, 2019, vol. 1, pp. 223–242.

References Avramov, R. 2016. Economy of the Revival Process. Sofia: Center for Advanced Study. Crenshaw, K. 1989. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex. Chicago, IL: Legal Forum: University of Chicago. ———. 1991. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43 (6): 1241–1279.


Kornelia Slavova and Rumiana Stoilova Conrad, G. and Szelenyi, I. 1979. The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. D’Agostino, S. 2015. “Consolidated Criteria for Assessing Intersectionality Operationalization in European Equality Policies: The Case of Roma Women.” Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies, 2(1–2): 95–110. ———. 2019. “(In)visible mobilizations. Romani Women’s Intersectional Activisms in Romania and Bulgaria. Politics, Groups, and Identities.” Retrieved from 0.1080/21565503.2019.1629307 Darakchi, S. 2013. Dynamic Changes in the Understanding of Gender, Sexuality and Marriage among Bulgarian Muslims: The Case of Breznitsa village (PhD Thesis, Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). Daskalova, K., Koleva, D., Kotseva, T., Roshkeva, R., and Stoilova, R. (eds). 2003. Voices of Their Own: Between Oral History and Gender History [Tehnite sobstveni glassove. Interviewta po ustna istoria]; trans. R. Muharska and E. Stoicova, Sofia: POLIS. Davis, K. 2020. “Who Owns Intersectionality? Some Reflections on Feminist Debated on How Theories Travel.” The European Journal of Women’s Studies, 27(2): 113–127. Degani, P. 2012. “Discrimination against Roma women in Romania. An Intersectional Perspective. Institutionalizing Intersectionality” (eds.) S. Walby and M. Verloo, Special Issue Social Politics, 19 (4): 433–621. European Commission. 2007. “Tackling Multiple Discrimination: Practices, Policies, and Laws.” Retrieved from: European Commission. 2020. “A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025.” Retrieved from: European Parliament, FEMM Committee. 2013. “Report on Gender Aspects of the European Framework of National Roma Inclusion Strategies.” (Report No. 2013/2066 (INI). Retrieved from http:// Esping-Anderson, G. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton ­University Press. Giddens, A. 2001. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press. Graff, A. 202. “Anti-Gender Mobilization and Right-Wing Populism.” K. Fabian, J. E. Johnson and M. Lazda (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia. New York: Routledge, 266–276. Ilieva, S. 2018. Employment Policies for Social Inclusion of Roma Population and Refugees in ­Bulgaria (PhD Thesis, Sofia: New Bulgarian University). Jusová, I. and Šiklová, J. (eds.). 2016. Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central ­Europe. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 270–283. Katsarska, K. and Monova, M. 2018. “Mechanisms of Exclusion and Coping Strategies in the Professional Realization of Young Roma.” Papers of BAS, Humanities and Social Sciences, 5(1): 90–103. Kóczé, A. and Popa, R. M. 2009. Missing Intersectionality: Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Current Research and Policies on Romani Women in Europe. Center for Policy Study Budapest: CEU. Kóczé, A., Zentai, V., Jovanović, J., and Vincze, E. (eds.). 2019. The Romani Women’s Movement: Struggles and Debates in Central and Eastern Europe. New York: Routledge. Koldinská, K. 2009. “Institutionalizing Intersectionality: A New Path to Equality for New Member States of the EU?” International Feminist Journal of Politics, 11(4): 547–565. Křížková, A. and Hašková, H. (eds.). 2018. “Intersectional Approach in Social Inequalities Research.” Gender and Research, 19(2): 7–12, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Krizsan, A. 2012. “Equality Architecture in CEE countries: A Framework for Analyzing Political Intersectionality in Europe”. Social Politics Winter 2012, (0)0, 1–33. Krizsan, A. and Roggeband, C. (eds.). 2019. Gendering Democratic Backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe. A Comparative Agenda. Budapest: CEU Press. Krizsan, A. and Zentai, V. 2012. “Institutionalizing Intersectionality in Central and Eastern Europe: Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia.” A. Krizsan, H. Skejeie, and Squirres, J. (eds.)


Intersectionality: Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe Institutionalizing Intersectionality: The Changing Nature of European Equality Regimes. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 179–208. Kubalkova, P. 2004. “Report on Trafficking in Women from the Roma Communities in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.” Retrieved from Women%20in%20Roma%20communities.pdf Kurtić, V. 2013. Dzuvljarke. Roma Lesbian Existence. Brussels: European Roma Rights Center. Lewis, G. 2013. “Unsafe Travels: Experiencing Intersectionality and Feminist Displacements.” Signs, 38(4): 869–892. Lombardo, E. and Augustin, L. R. 2012. “Framing Gender Intersections in the EU. What Implications for the Quality of Intersectionality in Policies?” Social Politics, (19)4: 482–512. Lutz, H. 2011. The New Maids: Transnational Women and the Care Economy. London and New York: Zed Books. ———. 2018. “Care Migration: The Connectivity between Care Chains, Care Circulation and Transnational Social Inequality.” Current Sociology Monograph, 66(4): 577–589. Magyari-Vincze, E. 2006. Social Exclusion at the Crossroads of Gender, Ethnicity, and Class: A View of Romani Women’s Reproductive Health. Budapest: Center for Policy Studies, CEU and Open Society Institute. Retrieved from Magyari-Vincze, E., Gheorghe, C. and Mark L. 2019. “Towards an Anti-Racist Feminism for Social Justice in Romania.” A. Kóczé, V. Zentai, J. Jovanović, and E. Vincze (eds.) The Romani Women’s Movement: Struggles and Debates in Central and Eastern Europe. New York: Routledge, 111–134. May, V. M. 2015. Pursuing Intersectionality, Unsettling Dominant Imaginaries. New York: Routledge. McCall, L. 2005. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30: 1771–1802. Miroiu, M. 2004. “State Men, Market Women. The Effects of Left Conservatism on Gender Politics in Romanian Transition.” Feminismo/s, 3: 207–234. Pető, A. and Grzebalska, W. 2018. “The Gendered Modus Operandi of the Illiberal Transformation in Hungary and Poland.” Women’s Studies International Forum, 68: 164–172. Phoenix, A. and Pattynama, P. (eds.) 2006. “Special Issue on Intersectionality.” The European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3). Šiklová, J. 1998. “Why We Resist Western-Style Feminism.” Transitions, 1: 30–35. Slavova, E. 2019. “Translating Gender, Transgressing Reason, and the Misappropriation of Judith Butler in Bulgarian Public Discourse.” Traditions and Transitions, (ed.) E. Slavova. Sofia: Sofia University Press, vol. 1, pp. 223–242. Slavova, K. 2006. “Looking at Western Feminisms through the Double Lens of Eastern Europe and the Third World.” Women and Citizenship in Central and Eastern Europe, (eds.) J. Lukic, J. Regulska and D. Zavirsek. Farnham: Ashgate, 245–265. ———. 2020. “Feminism in the Post-Communist World in/as Translation.” L. von Flotow and H. Kamal (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Translation, Feminism, and Gender. New York: ­Routledge, 266–275. Schultz, D. L. 2012. “Translating Intersectionality Theory into Practice: A Tale of Romani-Gadze Feminist Alliance.” Signs, 38(1): 37–57. Stoilova, R. 2012. “The Influence of Gender on Social Stratification in Bulgaria.” International Journal of Sociology, 42(3): 11–33. Stoilova, R., Ilieva-Trichkova, P. and Bieri, F. 2020. “Work-Life Balance in Europe: Institutional Contexts and Individual Factors.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 40(3/4): 366–381. Stoilova, R. and Slavova, K. 2006. “Spatial Mobility and Gender Inequality.” Sociological Problems, Special Issue in English. BAS Journal, 1: 190–208. Verloo, M. 2006. “Multiple Inequalities, Intersectionality, and the European Union.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3): 344–365.


4 INTERSECTIONALITY FROM THE MARGINS Historical Subjects/Subjectivation in the Global South Lyn Ossome Introduction Intersectionality as an organising analytical and theoretical approach gains prominence through feminist and critical race studies, most notably Kimberlé Crenshaw’s now seminal (1989) text in which she critiqued the tendency to treat race and gender as mutually exclusive categories of experiences and analysis, and argued that anti-discrimination cases tended to focus on the most privileged group members, marginalised those who were multiply burdened and obscured claims that could not be understood as resulting from discrete sources of discrimination. I shall return to this critique in some length later. Here, however, it is necessary to outline earlier ideas that have similarly shaped the thinking and theorisation of oppressions as intersectional. One strand of this earlier thought traces intersectionality to the plantation through slavery and the subsequent condition of Black women. The words of abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth in Ain’t I A Woman? (1851) were an early, poignant reminder that the public’s definition of womanhood did not include women who looked like her. Alongside Truth, other Black women activists like Anna Julia Cooper and Ida B Wells-Barnett are also credited with putting Black women’s experiences at the centre of their work and acknowledging the intersecting oppressions which informed their lives (Hill Collins 2000: 44). The Combahee River Collective (1977) later critiqued the limitations of theorising women’s experiences from the privileged vantage point of white feminists and affirmed Black women’s identity as a basis of our oppression and therefore, activism. A second strand of thought articulating the problem of intersectionality has been elaborated by decolonial feminist thinkers who have made concerted efforts to correct the silencing and absences in colonial historiography by showing how deeply gendered ideology constituted the material edifice of colonialisation and slavery. In this regard they seek to overcome “the coloniality of heteropatriarchal gender: the violent historical enmeshing of binary gender systems of capital, white supremacy, and empire” (Lugones 2010: 747). A decolonial understanding of race and gender, Lugones thus suggests, is possible through a rereading that exposes the “oppressive logics” of colonial capitalist modernity itself (ibid, p. 742).

DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-5 42

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Yet while highlighting crucial aspects of the nature of postcolonial subjectivity and shedding important light on the general character of colonialism, decoloniality theory nonetheless does not adequately address the specific character of the colonial condition, in part because of a failure to acknowledge the significance of historical and geographical context—that is, the spatial and temporal sites and stagings of colonial trauma. The distinctive intervention of decoloniality as a movement of thought is that it makes a distinction between colonialism and coloniality, and “decolonisation” and “decoloniality” (Pillay 2020: 142). Its fundamental quarrel is with the ways in which modernity constitutes ideas of liberation and freedom,1 and as such seeks a location outside or beyond modernity. But colonial rule in Africa had been a thoroughly modernist historical period with a distinctive mode of rule and attendant reproduction of oppressed groups, which ought to be examined within the terms and conditions of their generative structure. For this task, the lens which decoloniality offers is woefully insufficient. The foregoing critiques highlight the methodological problem of historical contingency which intersectionality theorists face in relation to the question of relevance and the hermeneutical power of intersectionality as an analytical lens. In other words, to the extent that identity categories are transhistorical, their explanatory power—that is, why and how they gain salience in a given context—can only be meaningfully gleaned through a concrete understanding of the social relations (of production and reproduction) which exist at that particular historical conjuncture. This chapter’s focus and interest then is on a third strand of thought which locates the problem of intersectionality within the colonial modern epoch—that is, examined through the lens and specificity of European colonisation read from a feminist standpoint. In what follows, I examine in some detail this problem of historical (in)compatibility between concepts.

Decolonisation and Intersectionality The modern history of the Global South is a history of conquest and colonisation. As a mode of rule, colonialism sought either to assimilate natives through a Eurocentrism that universalised Western modes of thought and control, or in the case of settler colonies, sought altogether to ‘civilise’ the native through displacement and/or erasure of native social, cultural and political modes of existence (Mamdani 2020). The colonial civilising mission was rationalised and underwritten by a Euromodernity built upon an artificially narrowed scope of humanity (singularly based on the idea and humanity of European Man) through the propagation of a false history that it foisted upon colonised people in order to appear legitimate. Euromodernity has forced its form of speech on the colonised subject thus raising the question regarding what it means for Black people to be heard (Chevannes 2019). What does a just world resemble for those whose ideas of freedom have all but been silenced and erased, replaced by a circumscribed version of justice as defined by the oppressor? And what kinds of postcolonial redress can we expect from nations built upon such erasure: on the toils of the rape, violence and captivity that typified the colonial project? It follows then that the idea of ‘justice’—that cornerstone out of which the demand for recognition and redress of intersecting harms arises—on which the colonised construct their claims is built upon the presumption that settler colonialism was just: (for to seek justice from a system that one believes to be unjust would be to delegitimise the claims so made) (Gordon 2018).


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Conversely for those who insist that colonialism was unjust, not only does doing nothing result in the maintenance of injustice, but it also becomes imperative to reconstitute the very basis and meaning of justice to the colonised (ibid). Whereas anticolonial struggles spoke to the violence and illegitimacy of the colonial project, it is the political project of decolonisation that takes shape in the postcolonial period which most explicitly confronts the fundamental injustices of colonialism. Due to its concern with revealing and dismantling colonialist power, including those cultural and political forms which survive as legacy in the postcolony, decolonisation necessarily adopts an intersectional approach. Intersectionality studies in the Global South emerge in relation to this decolonisation movement therefore as a tool of critical analysis that has mainly sought to define and theorise the nature of racialised and gendered subjectivities produced through slavery and colonial captivity.2 A large body of this scholarship has been developed within African and Black feminist studies and traditions. This is in part because intersectionality rejects the idea of a universal experience among women and therefore directly confronts the particularity of oppression resulting from colonisation while paying attention to the materialism—the lived experiences of Black, poor, working-class women— reproduced through the colonial condition. Contemporary African feminist scholarship in this grain examine negotiations of gendered and racialised identities, for instance, through memory and “popular history making” (Gqola 2010), and challenge the erasure of slavery and colonial violence by reconstituting them in postcolonial memory (Baderoon 2014). In addition to the legacies of violence, plunder, rape and dehumanisation, anticolonial and decolonial struggles have to deal with the problem of embodied violence that mirrors the colonial experience. The gendering, ethnicisation, sexualisation and racialising of the native as a mode of control are reproduced as primary categories of harm which today we seek to undo through decolonisation, for which intersectionality theory is a core analytical lens. From the onset, however, the concept of intersectionality has encountered two important limitations relative to the colonial legacies it seeks to confront, to which I turn briefly below as the basis of my argument in the remainder of the chapter.

Intersectionality and the Problem of History The lens of colonisation highlights two core limitations which intersectionality theory invariably encounters on its decolonial path. First, the concept of intersectionality is bounded by a liberal idea of human rights. That is to say that “when oppressed minorities ask for civil rights and political rights, they are making a demand within…Enlightenment discourse” (Dhawan 2014: 70). The Enlightenment itself remains in paradoxical tension with its ‘Others’: while we are inescapably conscripted into its modernist logics of freedom, secularism, human rights, science, liberation, democracy and justice (Scott 2004), we must at the same time deal with its white, bourgeois, masculinist bias as well as its legacies of imperialism, colonialism, slavery, racism, domination, sexism, genocide and exploitation (Dhawan 2014). Intersectionality theory as an instrument of decolonisation has, in other words, to eschew the romanticism that promises a clean break with the past, and instead manage a discourse straddling both sides of human rights—as liberatory and as a colonising force. This problem remains relatively unattended in the existing cannon of intersectional thought. Second, intersectionality theory has received criticism for its use of Black women as the ‘quintessential intersectional subject’ (Nash 2008: 1). 44

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Nash rightly attributes this hypervisibility of Black women to colonial approaches to knowledge, and in a subsequent return to the problem, advocates for an expansive and deterritorialised conception of intersectionality that is inclusive of subjects beyond the ‘Black woman’ (Nash 2019: 32). Her critique, however, reinstates an equally problematic presumption that colonised and enslaved women had been the primary subjects of colonisation, and therefore in the postcolonial period would have been the primary subjects of redress and rights. Although the significance of Black women is not in doubt, recent literature raises questions regarding Black women’s centrality in the colonial project. As labouring and reproductive bodies, Black women had constituted the condition of possibility for the stabilisation of colonial white minority rule and its accumulation project (Ossome 2018). But the relationship of colonists to women had been such that colonial officials on the one hand needed to incorporate women into the colonial edifice—due mainly to the (reproductive) labour questions that faced all colonies—while at the same time could render women secondary or marginal to the colonial project through the denial of women’s political authority and their characterisation as “passive” and under the control of their native male counterparts (Santoru 1996: 256). This latter impulse took the form of numerous and often gratuitous acts of violence against Black women and disavowal of their humanity. The question that this attitude towards women raised in the postcolonial state therefore was to what extent those whose very humanity had been decentred and disavowed could constitute the subjects of democracy and of rights. Stated differently, claims regarding the theoretical centring of Black women in intersectionality theory have also to take adequate account of the colonial margins from which Black women had been compelled to ‘speak’ and act—where their speech and actions were routinely delegitimised and the validity of their claims routinely questioned. In order therefore, for intersectionality theory to account for the conjunction of oppressions experienced by Black women, it first of all needs to locate the subjective identities (race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class) within the historical contexts that render them as oppressive. This requires approaching women as historical subjects of rights and not a priori as people endowed with rights—and as such, the intersectionality of oppressions that women experience as produced by the colonial structures and institutions that mediated women’s relationships to the colonial state. In specific relation to its explanatory power—or the question which Nash raises regarding its ‘empirical validity’ (2008: 1)—this is a methodological move of intersectional analysis away from the liberal individualism that focusses on wrongs to/oppression of an individual stripped of the colonial context towards a concern with the historical-institutional edifice that enables or impedes rights claims lodged by people still burdened by the identitarian legacies of colonial violence. Implicating a structural edifice in the production of harm means that intersectional analysis is necessarily tasked with the work of historical excavation, since history allows us to pose the question regarding how and when it is that various identities become injurious, and when it is that such injury becomes gendered—and therefore visible to the ‘human rights’ lexicon that is the basis of redress. In the section that follows I attempt a response to these concerns by examining both the problem of embodied violence and that of the centring of Black women, through the historical lens of the colonial structuring and production of gendered subjectivities. The aim is to highlight some of the analytical and methodological dilemmas which intersectional studies in the Global South are likely to encounter in responding to colonised subjects of rights. Such an approach has to consider the historical 45

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contingency of Black women’s experiences of oppression: that is, deal concretely with the historical conditions that give rise to the exclusions, violations and erasures which constitute the basis of our intersectional demands for rights/redress. Intersectionality studies in the Global South are necessarily burdened with the problem of historicisation because the long shadow of colonisation and its enduring legacies of violence, displacement and misrepresentation require placing the subjects of violence in their proper social context. Intersectionality here is tasked with showing the specific historical trajectories through which women emerge (or that demand women’s appearance) at the ‘intersection’ as either female, or Black, or both. In other words, in contexts of oppression and in the absence of the freedom and liberty to claim an identity or to name oneself, identities invariably become political and are politicised. In such contexts, it is not enough simply to highlight discrimination, but rather to also ask what it is that different forms of discrimination do at particular historical conjunctures. This could also be posed as a question: when does identity normatively defined—as Black, female, queer, etc., become political (identity), shaped by race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and so on? Global intersectionality studies have not yet responded adequately to this question, failing as they do to illustrate the shift from a normative identitarian basis to a political one. Colonial modernity is peculiar in producing this historical-legal-political subjectivity with which intersectionality theory has to grapple. I elaborate these claims through an examination of the nature of the relationship that colonialism fosters between gendered oppression and the rights (claims) of the oppressed.

Colonialism and the Gendered Problem of Bivalence Colonialism in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South has been defined as “rule by difference”—the form of statecraft that emerged in the late 19th century when Britain abandoned the attempt to eradicate difference between conqueror and conquered (through direct rule), and instead introduced a new idea of governance that was based on the definition and management of difference (Mamdani 2012). Difference was defined along social and political lines: race, caste, class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. Rule by difference had as its basis the political imperative to resolve the primary predicament at the heart of colonial rule, the native question—that is, how a small minority of European colonisers could control, govern and expropriate a majority native population. This process of define and rule was fraught with contradiction. It meant, for instance, that where a primary colonial antagonism emerged out of the need to distinguish between women and men (as wage labourers, prostitutes, housewives, domestic workers and so on), gendered subjectivity took shape. Where the primary antagonism lay in the control of so many native communities separated by language, culture and place, ethnic subjectivities emerged. Where the primary antagonism was with the compulsion of peasants into an extractive wage economy, class emerged as a definitive category of difference. And where the primary antagonism was to define and distinguish between the ruler and the ruled, and the minority and majority, racial subjectivity emerged. These subjectivities that ossified into so many identities were, in other words, thoroughly historical and political. Their emergence followed existing cleavages that predated colonialism, but the consolidation of these identities as new markers of difference—that is, as the basis of identitarian politics that was to succeed colonial domination—was a direct response to the pre-eminent question that faced colonists: the native question. 46

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I have argued elsewhere that a response to the native question would have been impossible without a response to the pre-eminent gender question (or the ‘woman question’) which the structural mode of colonial control posed both for ethnicised natives and colonists alike (Ossome 2018). Yet African women had not been the subjects proper of colonial rule, but were nonetheless fundamental to that project due to the structure of the colonial political economy that required the social reproduction of a cheap male native labour population. In this way, the domains occupied by women—the rural economies and the family/ household—became vital for the functioning of the colonial economy of migrant labour, and constituted the condition of possibility for the stabilisation of the bifurcated model of colonial rule (ibid). Vital as that economy was, however, the bifurcated form of the colonial state that separated rural from urban, and customary law from civil law, meant that ‘rights’ had been the preserve of urban, European men and women, and a small handful of educated Africans who could be ‘civilised’. For the majority native population, it was the language of tradition and ‘custom’ that defined their relationship to the state (Mamdani 1996). This meant that the postcolonial democratisation project would likely encounter the problem of untranslatability—for the very categories (such as ethnicity) that had been fundamental for colonial control under native administration would in the postcolonial democratising state be treated as aberrations—‘backward’ notions best left outside of the modern liberal cannon of rights. Due to their structural location in the colonial political economy, African women had constituted the majority of those who experienced the colonial state under customary law/native administration. The impact therefore of this ethnicbased identification with power and redress would have lasting intersectional effects on them in the postcolony. The legacy of this bifurcated model is a gendered structure that ought to be understood historically in relation to the mode of rule. In other words, ‘colonial gender’ does not function as a separate analytical category—contra the assumption that underlies what is contemporarily presented as the intersection of race, gender and class. In the context of colonial domination, the negation of women’s agency (recall here that women were not the primary subject of colonial rule—or rather, colonists had no interest in them as independent subjects) means that gender was always instrumentalised and articulated, such that we speak of the gendering of race, class, ethnicity and caste: that is, the oppressed always bear bivalent or multivalent identities (e.g. Black, working-class woman). This is not an individual but rather a collective signalling of oppression. Two explanations may be found for this: first, while a woman can be oppressed as an individual, her identity as ‘Black’ and ‘working-class’ is always experienced within the respective group. Second, because the colonial state did not recognise the individuality of colonised natives, the latter were never the subject of rights, but rather of custom, which again was identified with whole communities and not individuals. Bivalent (and multivalent) identities are therefore foundational to who the colonised are as historical subjects. Intersectionality theory is yet to apprehend such bivalence, grounded as it is in a notion of liberal individual subjectivity that cannot account for those whose individuality was stripped and subordinated to group identities. A core analytical dilemma which intersectionality theory has therefore to address—as a result of the fact that native subjectivity (as viewed by colonialists) was not individual but rather group subjectivity—is the historical problem of group claims. Group claims present a problem for the Western liberal approach to intersectionality theory because it is 47

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methodologically grounded in the idea of an individual’s experiences of multiple layers of interrelated oppressions. Intersectionality theory here addresses the fact that those oppressions have a tendency to converge at the same time, thus rendering the liberal artillery of the law ineffective in dealing with all of them at a go. While the collective/group nature of colonial subjectivity similarly raises the question regarding the convergence of oppressions, the collective mapping of trauma onto the colonised, however, raises the additional question of difference and its attendant problem of recognition: that is, which kinds of suffering are rendered visible among members of a group, and which ones become subordinated to the broader interests of the group? How does power function within the group to determine the group identity that is collectively embodied (gender, sexuality, ethnic, race, class) and most pertinent at a given historical time? These problems have found some contemporary analytical resonance and explanations among theorists of the state. One set of these debates deals with the hierarchisation of oppressions which may result from the differentiation between ‘cultural’ harms such as sexuality that are often considered as benign injustices of recognition and relatively independent of the political economy (see Fraser 2008), against those harms that are considered as the ‘real business of politics’ (Butler 2008: 47). Another intervention into this debate shows the process of state formation as generating political identities that are distinct not only from “market-based identities (…class or division of labour)” but also from cultural identities, thus differentiating between cultural and political identities (Mamdani 2001: 19–20). By this argument, the difference is that economic identities are the consequence of the history of development of markets (class-based identities), and cultural identities of the development of communities that share a common language and meaning. Political identities on their part are a specific consequence of the history of state formation, such that in the modern state, political identities are inscribed in law and legally enforced (ibid). Every state form, Mamdani argues, generates specific political identities. Direct rule generated race-based political identities (settler and native), while indirect rule tended to mitigate the settler-native dialectic by fracturing the race consciousness of natives into multiple and separate ethnic consciousnesses. Thereby, the very category “native” was legally dismantled as different groups of natives were set apart on the basis of ethnicity. From being only a cultural community, the ethnic group was turned into a political community, too. The political project of the regime of “customary” laws was to fracture a racialised native population into different ethnicised groups, with the outcome that the basis of group distinction was both race and ethnicity (Mamdani 2001: 23). For oppressed groups, this means that the very possibility of recognition of a group is politicised such that the calling up of group identities does not serve the purpose of redress, but rather acts as the basis for further regulation by the state. Furthermore, as Mamdani (2001) argues, if one’s inclusion or exclusion from a regime of rights and entitlements is based on their race or ethnicity, as defined by law, then this becomes a central defining fact for the individual and their groups—these become political, not cultural identities. It is when political identities become polarised that they become most unlike cultural identities, because whereas cultural identities tend to shape into one another (through various forms of hybridisation), polarised identities offer no middle ground and no continuum between them. Polarised identities give rise to a kind of political difference where one must be either one or the other, but cannot partake in both. The difference thus becomes binary, not simply in law but in political life (ibid). Political identities cannot, in


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other words, account for the bivalence which intersectionality theory presumes and poses to the question of justice. This problem of the fixity of political identities as defined by Mamdani (2001) has a longer history which precedes colonialism and goes to the very heart of the modern Western state by implicating the basis of its democracy. Theorists here are concerned with the inability of intersectionality theory to apprehend the nature of accommodation into which the oppressed are compelled, precisely because of their state of captivity. The individual subject of Western theory—indeed Western democracy itself—is rendered possible through the captivity of those whose enslavement was the condition of freedom for the captors. Joy James’ “The Womb of Western Theory” presents this problem as such: In transitioning a colony through a republic into a representative democracy with imperial might, the emergent United States grew a womb, it took on the generative properties of the maternals it held captive. Western democracy, based in American Exceptionalism, merged Enlightenment ideologies with Western theories to birth a new nation (a nascent empire) that fed on black frames. (2016: 256, emphasis added) The realisation of the nature of this dependency often results in violence against captives. However, contra Alexander Kojeve’s (1980) argument that the slave has powers that surpass the master; that the latter, in fact, is dependent upon the former, James (2016) argues that “leverage rather than “feminism” or “intersectionality” or “progressivism” might be a useful term for recognising power and predation in states of captivity (2016: 257, emphasis added).” By leverage, James is referring to the delicate balancing act in which the oppressed have to engage simply in order to survive—and their ability to rapture that balance given their sheer numbers and collective anger. James calls this “conventional” or “on-continuum” politics. (2016: 258) Using the analogy of a seesaw, James suggests that any attempt by the oppressed to approach the ‘intersection’ is a threat to the ‘balance’ on which the captor/oppressor constructs their notion of democracy: to reach the intersection (the “fulcrum”) is to topple the seesaw—acts that are read as sabotage and always met with “retaliatory violence to punish that disturbance” (2016: 258). Intersectionality (the ‘intersection’) is, in other words, an aspiration that does not represent the reality of the compromises and balancing acts that constitute the daily struggles of oppressed/enslaved/colonised people in order for them to survive systems of police brutality, rape, financial exclusion from institutions of higher learning, job discrimination, unemployment and racism. It is a continuous loop of governmentality whereby those most discriminated against are forced to settle their grievances by continuously making disparate political choices which do not necessarily converge at a unified intersection of grievances for redress. In the state of captivity, James insists, “off-continuum politics that resist governance and non-profits to follow the ‘rabble’, rebellion through boycott, protest, or even riot becomes an act of the uncivil” and is invariably quashed and/ or punished as such (ibid). In other words, for the oppressed and discriminated with few rights or legal recognition, the ‘intersection’ becomes a point of collision and not necessarily one of resolution.


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What the foregoing illustrates is the ways in which various political identities approximate the nature of oppression and injustice being suffered by a group at different historical moments. This is not an argument regarding the instrumentalisation of identity per se (which diminishes the agency of the oppressed), but rather a point to suggest that the conjuncture/intersectionality presumed between, say, race-gender-class belies the historical contestations through which each of these identities enter the domain of politics. To restate an earlier point, where the primary antagonism lay in the control of so many native communities separated by language, culture and place, ethnic subjectivities emerged; where the primary antagonism was with the compulsion of peasants into an extractive wage economy, class emerged as a definitive category of difference; and where the primary antagonism was to define and distinguish between the ruler and the ruled, the minority and majority, racial subjectivity emerged. As such, whereas intersectionality theory’s language of recognition may respond, albeit partially, to ethnic and racial subjugation, it may be wholly insufficient as a response to oppression on the basis of class. While the politics of recognition acknowledges the political existence of people, it leaves unattended historical structures of oppression through colonialism and slavery before that, which embedded oppression deep into the structure of the state. Intersectionality in the Global South has in this sense, to deal with the political economy of identitarianism because political identities are burdened with historical claims that exceed mere recognition. This political economy is gendered to the extent, as elaborated above, that while women had not been central to the colonial accumulation process, their gendered (reproductive) labour was the condition of possibility for the stabilisation of colonial rule. How then do we think of intersectionality from the margins?

A Global South Political Economy of Intersectionality The redistributive claims that prefigured the postcolonial moment for the colonised emanate from the fact that the Africanisation projects of the postindependence periods deracialised but did not deal with structural inequalities that had followed ethnic cleavages (Mamdani 1996). Both de-ethnicisation and redistribution go hand in hand as the preeminent challenges to democracy in the postcolonial period, and are core problems with which intersectionality theory in the Global South has to grapple. A key problem that redistribution has further to confront is that of addressing inequalities through analytical categories (e.g. gendered/reproductive labour) that represent social relations of production (and are thus generalisable across class, race, gender, ethnicity) but are not reducible to empirical categorisation (e.g. women) specific to a particular social group. I briefly examine here this problem of redistribution as critique in relation to intersectionality studies in the Global South. So far I have argued, through the lens of colonisation, that intersectionality is faced with a problem of historicity and accommodation that places the politics concerned with simultaneous experiences of oppression (Crenshaw 1989) on a continuum (as Joy James argues), rather than at an intersection. Marxist feminists in this regard have claimed that Crenshaw’s model does not deal with class as an actionable category for the (African American women) workers at General Motors that formed the basis of her critique (e.g. Aguilar 2015). Another argument in this tradition is that “while intersectionality can usefully describe the effects of multiple oppressions…it does not offer an adequate explanatory


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framework for addressing the root causes of social inequality in the capitalist socioeconomic system” (Foley 2019: 11). Foley’s assertion is that while injury arising from race, gender, class, ethnicity and so on are comparable on the legal basis of ‘rights’, all of these injuries emanate from disparate historical circumstances which “require quite different analytical approaches” (ibid). On the basis of class analysis, Marxists make the distinction between oppression and exploitation by asserting that the power of intersectionality is most effective in relation to the former—in describing the ‘effects’ of oppression—and lacking the requisite explanatory framework for showing the latter, since an analysis of exploitation would entail “addressing the root causes of social inequality in the capitalist socioeconomic system” (ibid). Their response to these putative failings of intersectionality theory is class analysis, because while [o]ppression…is indeed multiple and intersecting, producing experiences of various kinds…its causes are not multiple but singular. That is, “race” does not cause racism, and gender does not cause sexism. But the ways in which “race” and gender—as modes of oppression—have historically been shaped by the division of labor can and should be understood within the explanatory framework supplied by class analysis, which foregrounds the issue of exploitation, that is, of the profits gained from the extraction of what Marx called “surplus value” from the labor of those who produce the things that society needs. (Foley 2019: 11) This argument mirrors the cultural vs. political economy debate that has found currency among Marxist feminists who have sought to show gender as constitutive of capitalism (Dalla Costa & James 1972; Mies 2014; Federici 2004), and written against capitalism’s ‘inherent contradiction between economic production and social reproduction’. (Fraser 2016: 113) These feminist theorisations have been significant in elaborating the structural scope of gender oppression under capitalism. The assumption, however, that all labour enters into the productive realm and must therefore be understood through the lens of capitalist exploitation furthers a Eurocentrism that belies conditions of labour in the Global South. The critique here is that capitalism does not benefit from the complete destruction of noncapitalist economies, as it would lead to a ‘standstill of accumulation’ (Luxemburg 1951). More recent theorisations of gender inequities inherent in agrarian societies as they relate to reproduction of the labouring classes also decentre the labour-capital relationship by shifting attention to the survival and flourishing of the working people (see Ossome and Naidu 2021). An intersectional theory relevant to the Global South would need to account for the pertaining global structure of accumulation and its specific manifestations in the periphery. This is because the ‘non-capitalist’ realm of social reproduction—which lies outside of the capitalist exploitation matrix and is largely invisibilised—does not easily lend itself to intersectional analysis. The point here is that the contexts and histories in which subjectivities are constituted matter in determining who is considered as capable of being harmed, and whether such harm matters simply because one is human—not because they serve the ends of capitalism. In a similar vein, Salem (2018) argues that “[w]hen intersectionality moves to different


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parts of the globe, the question of Eurocentrism becomes even more pertinent” (2018: 407), and cites Patil’s (2013) observation that the race–class–gender axis has different meanings depending on the context, which affects the ability of the concept to travel without mutation. To Patil, “applications of intersectionality continue to be shaped by the geographies of colonial modernity” (2013: 853, cited in Salem 2018: 407). In other words, universalisation of suffering fails to grasp the power (of erasure) of the colonial binary that continues to ascribe originality to the West as the ‘centre’, and only imitation, appropriation and mimicry to the peripheries—the latter putatively lacking in specific form and historical specificity. Salem (2018) thus rightly insists that the international division of labour, colonialism, nationalism and global and local forms of patriarchy are questions that should be central to intersectional analysis, but often are not.

Conclusion This chapter has tried to broaden the purview of intersectionality studies in the Global South by foregrounding the gendered legacies of colonial rule and the conceptual and analytical imperatives that emerge from these legacies. At its core, it illustrates the ways in which the same structures that have mainstreamed gender and embedded it deep into the logics of capitalist accumulation are ironically the same ones that are bound to negate the oppression suffered by the millions of people, for instance, those (mainly although not exclusively, women) who struggle daily to sustain those surplus populations that are increasingly irrelevant or marginal to capitalism. Those struggles for sustenance mirror the violent logics of colonialism, meaning that it is only through historical analysis that one might make sense of the political subjectivity of the colonised. A vantage point that is located in the Global South is critical precisely because it offers the possibility of disrupting the identification of oppression primarily with a universalised notion of power and agency. It turns our attention away from what oppression is, towards the more situated concern with what it does to different groups at different times. The former has a universalising tendency at its core, while the latter might account for the historical travels through which oppressive structures, conditions and institutions have shaped the lives and outcomes for different groups. It is to eschew a metatheory of intersectionality and to insist on the agency of history from the perspective of those who bear the scars and burdens of those histories. The very idea of the Global South affirms this as a political imperative. My aim has not been to negate the productive potential of an intersectional analytical lens, but rather to bring it more starkly into the purview of ongoing debates in the Global South that are concerned with an understanding of the postcolonial subject. The issues raised in the chapter are thus not a foreclosure, but rather stand in as a series of signposts along the often shrouded road of decolonisation.

Notes 1 To one of its key proponents, Walter Mignolo, “the rhetoric of modernity is the constant updating of the rhetoric of salvation hiding the logic of coloniality—war, destruction, racism, sexism, inequalities, injustice etc….[a]ll the bad things people notice today in the world cannot be changed to improve while modernity/coloniality remain in place” (Mignolo 2017, cited in Pillay 2020). 2 Crenshaw’s (1989) groundbreaking work, for instance, took as its subject a Black working-class woman whose intersectional oppressions under a racist system could be clearly attributed to her various positionalities.


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References Aguilar, Delia (2015), “Intersectionality,” in Marxism and Feminism, ed. S. Mojab, London: Zed Books, pp. 203–220. Baderoon, Gabeba (2014), Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-Apartheid, Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Butler, Judith (2008), “Merely Cultural,” in K. Olson (ed.), Adding Insult to Injury: Nancy Fraser Debates Her Critics, London: Verso, pp. 42–56. Carastathis, Anna (2016), Intersectionality: Origins, Contestations and Horizons, Lincoln: Nebraska University Press. Chevannes, Derefe, K. (2019), “Euromodernity’s Undertone: On Reconceptualizing Political Speech,” unpublished PhD thesis, University of Connecticut. Combahee River Collective (1977), ‘A Black Feminist Statement’, Available at: scraps/combahee.html (accessed on: 24 February 2021). Collins, Patricia Hill (2000), Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, 2nd ed, New York: Routledge. Crenshaw, Kimberlé (1989), “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1(8): 139–167. Dalla Costa, Mariarosa and Selma James (1972), The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, Brooklyn, NY: Petroleuse Press. Dhawan, Nikita (2014), “Affirmative Sabotage of the Master’s Tools: The Paradox of Postcolonial Enlightenment,” in Nikita Dhawan (ed.), Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World, Berlin: Barbara Budrich, pp. 19–78. Federici, Silvia (2004), Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia. Fraser, Nancy (2008), ‘From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a “Postsocialist” Age,’ in K. Olson (ed.), Adding Insult to Injury: Nancy Fraser Debates Her Critics, London: Verso, pp. 129–141. ———. (2016), “Contradictions of Capital and Care,” New Left Review, 100: 99–117. ———. (2018), “Revisiting Frantz Fanon’s The Damned of the Earth: A Conversation with Lewis R. Gordon,” Verso Blog. Available online at: (accessed on 9 June 2021). Gqola, Pumla (2010), What Is Slavery to Me: Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Johannesburg: Wits University Press. James, Joy (2016), “The Womb of Western Theory: Trauma, Time Theft, and the Captive Maternal,” Carceral Notebooks, “Challenging the Punitive Society,” 12: 253–296. Kojeve, Alexander (1980), Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, ed. Alan Bloom, trans. James H. Nichols, Jr., Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Lugones, Maria (2010), “Towards a Decolonial Feminism,” Hypatia, 25(4): 742–759. Luxemburg, Rosa (1951), The Accumulation of Capital, London: Routledge. Mamdani, Mahmood (1996), Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late ­Colonialism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ———. (2001), When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ———. (2012), Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ———. (2020), Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Mies, Maria (2014), Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour, London: Zed Books. Mignolo, Walter (2017), “Interview – Walter Mignolo/Part 2: Key Concepts, E-International Relations,” available online at: (Accessed 8 February 2021). Nash, C. Jennifer (2008), “Re-thinking Intersectionality,” Feminist Review, 89: 1–15.


Lyn Ossome ———. (2019), Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Ossome, Lyn (2014), “Integrating Sexual and Economic Justice: Challenges for Queer Feminist Activism against Sexual Violence in South Africa,” in Nikita Dhawan, Antke Engel, Christoph Holzhey, Volker Woltersdorff (eds.), Global Justice and Desire: Queering Economy. London: Routledge, pp. 132–146. ———. (2018), Gender, Ethnicity and Violence in Kenya’s Transitions to Democracy: States of ­ Violence, London/New York: Lexington Books. Ossome, Lyn and Sirisha Naidu (2021), “The Agrarian Question of Gendered Labour,” in Praveen Jha, Walter Chambati & Lyn Ossome (eds.), Labour Questions in the Global South, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 63–86. Patil, Vrushali (2013), “From Patriarchy to Intersectionality: A Transnational Feminist Assessment of How Far We’ve Really Come,” Signs, 38(4): 847–867. Pillay, Suren (2020), “The Limits of Coloniality,” The MISR Review, 3: 142–153. Salem, Sara (2018), “Intersectionality and Its Discontents: Intersectionality as Traveling Theory,” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 25(4): 403–418. Santoru, E. Marina (1996), “The Colonial Idea of Women and Direct Intervention: The Mau Mau Case,” African Affairs, 95(379): 253–267. Scott, David (2004), Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Sojourner Truth (1851), “Ain’t I a Woman?” Speech delivered at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. Available online at: Sojourner-Truth_Aint-I-a-Woman_1851.pdf (accessed on 20 December 2020).


5 THE TRAVELS OF INTERSECTIONALITY IN LATIN AMERICA Bringing the Desks Out onto the Streets Mara Viveros-Vigoya Introduction In his essay “Traveling Theory”, Edward Saïd (1982) describes the ways in which theories can “travel” to other times and places. He argues that it is natural for theories to travel outside of their original context, and that these displacements affect theories in diverse ways, causing the initial meaning of a theory’s central concepts to be blurred, or revealing its persistent limitations. For Saïd, it is important that the theory retains its intellectual core and is not blindly imitated. Its cognitive potential depends on it being received with critical awareness or even resistance. If it is not, it runs the risk of an emptying out of all its content. In a later essay with the intriguing title “Traveling Theory Reconsidered”, Saïd (2000 [1994]) suggests that along the course of its semantic “travels”, a theory can find renewal, and recover its rebellious potential. In this chapter, the “travels” that I explore are theoretical as well as geographical, as I refer to how intersectionality has made internal displacements within feminist theory, from the margins of the field to the canonical centre, and back again. I will also examine how intersectionality, as a travelling concept in a geographical sense, has become one of the world’s most popular gender theory frameworks, focussing on how it has been received in Latin America, and once appropriated there, has taken on new meaning. I intend to show how intersectionality, as a concept that perceives the overlapping nature of power relations, emerged as a product of the politicisation of the experiences of women of colour in the United States. In the 1970s, in the context of the Vietnam War, these women showed how forms of domination produced by racist subjugation, sexist discrimination, capitalist exploitation, and imperialist domination were interconnected and imbricated (Davis 2019: 19). Similar reflections developed in Latin America over the same period. In 1960s Brazil, the issues affecting Black women had been posited as topics of political debate within the Brazilian Communist Party, and had brought to light the limitations of the country’s feminist movement, for its failure to acknowledge the racism experienced by racialised women (Barroso and Costa, 1983). These perspectives renewed critique of the


DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-6

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one-dimensional models of domination identified by feminist theory, Marxist theories, and anti-racist theories, and destabilised their hegemony in the mainstream. Counter to what has happened in the feminist academia of the Global North, where intersectionality has become a standard academic concept, in Latin America intersectionality has travelled a very different course, having interacted with two of the region’s critical feminist perspectives, namely, decolonial feminism and feminisms originating in rural and working-class communities. It is also worth noting that intersectionality became popular in Latin America during a period in which national identities were being redefined as multicultural, intercultural, or plurinational. These two factors have allowed intersectionality to resist attempts of appropriation by elements of the neoliberal philosophy that it has experienced in other regions, and of depoliticisation brought about by the standardisation and massification of its use in different spheres. It seems to have managed to escape, at least partially, the reduction and simplification of its critical capacity. Intersectionality has become a powerful analytical framework for research and political action in different countries in the region. Over the last decade, it has been redefined, reinvented and depoliticised: outside universities; on the streets and in social networks; in the activism of social movements and in relation to community feminism and decolonial thought and practice. I will examine this transformation throughout the rest of this chapter.

Intersectionality’s Multiple Origins For feminism, the intersectional approach is unquestionably not a new concept. In fact, the idea that theoretical frameworks excluded certain groups by ignoring the imbrication of power relations had been circulating for a long time in diverse historical and geopolitical contexts. The failure to acknowledge these exclusions was challenged by Black women in the United States through organisations that had been fighting since the 19th century for the abolition of slavery, the right to vote for Black people, and against racial segregation and lynching. Intersectionality matured as a concept towards the end of the second half of the 20th century, during a period of immense social change. This period saw the emergence of proposals such as those put forward by one of the most active Black feminist groups of the 1970s, the Combahee River Collective (2014 [1977]), in their Black Feminist Statement which clearly articulates the orientations of an intersectional perspective. As a theoretical and political framework, intersectionality has been nourished by the reflections made by: the anti-colonial struggles in Africa and Asia; the anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America, those of the global women’s movement and of civil rights movements in multicultural democracies and those emerging from the end of the Cold War and the defeat of apartheid in South Africa (Hill Collins 2019). Meanwhile, in 1980s Brazil, a Black women’s movement was consolidating, cementing the intersection of race and gender as the focal point of their political agenda. Several activists and intellectuals (including Thereza Santos, Lélia Gonzalez, Maria Beatriz do Nascimento, Luiza Bairros, Jurema Werneck, and Sueli Carneiro, among others) promoted the theory of the “race-class-gender” triad of oppressions to explain the differences among Brazilian women that the dominant feminist discourse had endeavoured to ignore. Here I would like to highlight the work of two Afro-Brazilian feminists: sociologist and activist Lélia Gonzalez and philosopher Sueli Carneiro, as their pioneering contributions are particularly important to the story of intersectionality. 56

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Lélia Gonzalez (1984) reflected on the importance of recognising and linking together the struggles against classism, sexism, and racism, arguing that the connection between sexism and racism acts as a symbolic operator for the way Black women in Brazil are seen and treated, that is, with a large measure of violence. In her visionary article “Por um feminismo afro-latino-americano” (The argument for an Afro-Latin American Feminism), Gonzalez (1988) “rubbed salt in the wound” by daring to address a subject that still pains Latin American feminism: its oversight of racism in both its theory and practice. Gonzalez showed that the road leading to the emancipatory potential of feminism had not been paved in the same way for all women, in all their diversity. She affirms that Amefrican and Amerindian women felt estranged when presented with a movement which overlooked their experiences and demands in favour of those made by women who we free of ethnic and racial markers. In other writings, she argued that Black women should not disperse into a feminist movement that would alienate them from their Black brothers, given that, as a community, they understood the fight against racism to be a priority. Gonzalez contributed to the debate on intersectionality by stressing the importance of recognising the shared and different effects of the combination of racism and sexism on men and women. While Black women suffer symbolically because of the way they have been represented in society, and are vulnerable to three-fold exploitation in the job market, as Black, as women, and as impoverished, Black men are confronted by other machinery of social control and domination, such as police repression and extermination. Elsewhere, her analysis incorporated the spatial dimensions of race, gender, and social relations, referring to Black women from different classes and geographical areas, such as the favela or the suburbs, and charting the different contexts of their upward social mobility (Ratts and Rios 2016). Afro-Latin American thought also owes a great debt to educator, philosopher, and activist Sueli Carneiro, whose almost five decades of academic and journalistic writing has contributed to deconstructing the assumption that Latin American thought is Western in nature. Her work has exposed the mirage of a world cast in the mould of abstract universalism and a hierarchical and binary social organisation of gender and race based on colonial sexual violence. In her famous article “Enegrecer o feminismo” (Blackening Feminism) Carneiro (2005) contends that gender relations, differentiated according to colour or “race” that were first installed during times of slavery, continue to survive in the Brazilian social imaginary and in its supposedly democratic social order. In light of this, the feminist discourse must, Carneiro argues, take this differentiated historical experience into account, and acknowledge the qualitative difference that the effect of oppression had and continues to have on Afrodescendant women’s gender identity. Carneiro (2005) affirms that the political perspective of Black Brazilian women is drawing up a new blueprint for feminist and anti-racist political action, enriching both the race and gender discussion; it does this by proposing the integration of lessons learnt both in the struggles of Black movements and in the women’s movement. It has also contributed a new political identity, the result of the specific condition of being a woman and being Black. According to Carneiro, today’s Black women’s movement is pushing for the many struggles historically fought separately by the country’s Black organisations and women’s movements to be fused together. This objective has been supported by the way the Black women’s movement has brought awareness to those moving in political circles of the contradictions resulting from the variables of race, class, and gender. In sum, Carneiro’s thinking has enriched and empowered the Brazilian and Latin American feminist political 57

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scene and agenda by “Blackening” feminist demands to make them more representative of Brazilian women as a whole. Both Gonzalez and Carneiro were pioneers in calling attention to the fact that if feminism wanted to emancipate all women, it had to confront all forms of oppression and not only those perpetrated on grounds of gender. It is worth emphasising these developments because the Brazilian contribution to the genealogy of intersectionality is almost never acknowledged. On a regional level, in the Latin American and Caribbean feminist meetings held in different Latin American cities in the 1980s, objections were made regarding the absence and neglect of the issue of racism in the feminist agenda. Thus, at the Second Meeting of Latin American and Caribbean Feminists held in 1983 in Lima, these Brazilian thinkers, alongside Uruguayan and Caribbean Black feminists managed with difficulty to draw attention to the fact that the feminist agenda needed to include the issue of racism (Curiel 2007). They also proposed the setting up of a regional coordination mechanism (Álvarez 1997). It was not until 1992 that 350 Black women from 32 countries attended the First Meeting of Latin American and Caribbean Black Women in the Dominican Republic, a country with a long feminist tradition. They were to discuss the agenda for the Fourth World Conference on Women which would be held in Beijing in 1995. At this meeting they created their own agenda that highlighted the region’s specific ethnic and racial inequalities. They wanted to draw attention to the fact that Latin American societies had devalued Black women’s contributions to their development. At the same time, they denounced the racist subtext of the new development models and structural adjustment policies and the negative impact these had on the lives of Black women (Galván 1995). By presenting the contributions of these women, we can observe that the principles of what we today call intersectionality have been espoused for decades. What is new is the way in which intersectionality has more recently started to circulate in different academic and political contexts, as one of the key approaches to contemporary discussions and struggles around “difference”, diversity, and plurality. This has had multiple effects, which I will now explore.

Intersectionality’s Institutionalisation The Third World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban in 2001 was a turning point in the world’s understanding of the historical functioning of racism across the globe. It was also notable due to the broad participation of women. Like the other UN conferences, Durban was also preceded by a series of preparatory activities in different regions of the world. The aim of these was to map different forms of racism, identify the ethnic and racial groups most exposed to their effects, as well as to propose actions to member states and UN bodies in charge of international treaties. A decade after coining the term intersectionality, Kimberlé Crenshaw participated in these preparations, giving a seminar on Intersectionality at the Geneva Preparatory Committee in the year 2000 in which she assessed the limited interpretations of the human rights discourses of the time. She outlined a methodology for analysing intersectional subordination as a means of eliminating the gaps in these discourses through which the rights of women who suffer multiple oppressions tend to fall through (Bairros 2002). The Third World Conference was a decisive moment in the growing protagonism of Black women in the fight against racism and racial discrimination, both nationally and 58

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internationally. The Pro-Durban Articulation of Brazilian Black Women’s Organisations (Articulação de Organizações de Mulheres Brasileiras pró-Durban) stands out among the various initiatives launched there. The case put forward by Black women on their specific place in the systems of production and reproduction contributed greatly to making the problems of racially discriminated women visible. At the Conference, more than 10,000 delegates shared the complexity of their political challenges and life experiences with each other. They adopted the term intersectionality at the conference’s NGO Forum. Since then, the intersectional perspective and other equivalent terms began to take hold and expand globally (Dell’ Aquila 2021). From that moment on, the concept of intersectionality began to be used in different institutional spheres. After the World Conference, intersectionality influenced the formulation of the Equality Clause in the South African Constitution, became institutionalised in international diplomacy, and gained academic popularity (Cho, Crenshaw & McCall 2013). Many official documents of international organisations began to speak of human rights from an intersectional perspective and it has become increasingly common to invoke the need to incorporate an intersectional perspective into analyses of inequality. At a regional level in Latin America, all statistics produced by ECLAC, and the documents related to the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024) use an intersectional perspective. As a result, intersectionality, born out of a marginal and contested context, gradually became a broad and widely used concept in these different fields. This rapid expansion in institutional spheres was also reflected in academia, where the concept of intersectionality has experienced something similar to what the concept of gender went through during the 1990s as a result of its institutionalisation. On the one hand, there has been an undeniable recognition of intersectionality in the academic world. Indeed, over the last ten years in English-speaking academic circles, intersectionality has become the most widely used feminist terminology to talk about both identities and multiple and interdependent inequalities (Brah & Phoenix 2004; Bilge 2010). On the other hand, this institutionalisation of the concept has emptied it of its political content and neutralised the category, which has begun to be used as a standard academic reference separated from its original political imprint. We are seriously misunderstanding what intersectionality is all about if, while applying the concept, feminist discourse remains intact, if the intersectional argument, analysis, and approach consists of applying “from above” a new feminist truth to the world of those “from below”, and if that world is understood to be a place where all inequalities are exacerbated by adding one on top of another (Espinosa Miñoso 2020).

The Appropriation of Intersectionality in Latin America In Latin America, a persistent obstacle to the widespread take-up of an intersectional political-theoretical approach (in which race plays a central role) is the continuing adherence in Latin America to the narrative of mestizaje to prove the absence of racism. This narrative describes these societies as fundamentally mixed race. It has been so powerful in the cementing of Latin American national identities that it has hindered acknowledgement of the existence of racism and dismissed those who testify to its existence as the “real” racists. In Latin America, racism is minimised, denied or seen as something anachronistic or “extraordinary”. Racism is so naturalised that it is largely overlooked, to the point that it is only applied to circumstances of another time or place: the United States; Nazi Germany; or South Africa. If racism has been a Latin American problem, goes the argument, it is a relic 59

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of the past, from colonial or pre-revolutionary times. People only perceive racism when confronted with explicit or violent acts of racial discrimination (Viveros Vigoya 2020). In Latin America, the ideology of mestizaje not only concealed internal hierarchies within the socio-racial order but also rendered the whiteness of its elites invisible, and ignored the way in which race, class, and gender provided them with an imbricated experience of privilege (Akotirene 2019). Given this context, I would like to expound here some of the feminist criticisms of this foundational narrative, like those made by Lélia Gonzalez, for example. Gonzalez (2018) has asserted that Latin American societies had always prioritised the “Latin”, in other words, a connection with Europe, and had silenced the importance of the historical existence and (past, present, and future) political agency of their Black and indigenous peoples. A consequence of this silencing can be seen in the Brazilian state’s unequal and violent treatment of the Black and indigenous population. Another critical concept, “Nuestra América” (Our America), seeks to reappropriate and displace the meanings associated with the mestizo character of our history, inspired by the different ways of perceiving reality contained in the consciousness of the New Mestiza proposed by Gloria Anzaldúa (2012 [1987]) and Che’je mestizaje put forward by Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui (2010). The New Mestiza is an unfinished project of social struggle which has endeavoured to create a space (called “the bridge”) in which the different personal experiences and the political, racial, sexual, and gender reclamations that make up this identity can be simultaneously united and deconstructed. Nuestra America is now the project of the Nueva Mestiza and a critique of the idea that there is a “universal mestizo”. To refer to Nuestra America instead of Latin America represents a choice made to use a name that was not created in hegemonic metropolitan academic spheres to account for specific social experiences. Latin American criticism of intersectionality itself include the work of Black Brazilian researcher and feminist Carla Akotirene (2018), which has discussed the concept of intersectionality from a decolonial perspective, criticising and calling attention to the emptying out of the category. She argues that it is necessary and timely to decolonise hegemonic perspectives on intersectionality, and that the Atlantic Ocean, as the meeting point between the African continent and the African diaspora in the Americas, and as a witness to the history of the forced migration of Africans as commodities for sale, should be recognised as the centre of these overlapping oppressions. Finally, she also posits that we should think of the Atlantic as the cure to the colonial wounds caused by Europe, the silenced cultures, identity binarisms, and contrast imposed between humans and non-humans. Although Akotirene thinks that intersectionality is appropriate for analysing Latin American societies, she warns that the approach must be geopolitically oriented. To this end, she stresses the importance of creating a dialogue between the aforementioned Black US and Brazilian feminist intellectuals and their African, Latin-American, and Caribbean counterparts. She also identifies the risk of a “Western epistemic monopoly” silencing the production of discourses that do not privilege Western culture as the key to humanity’s salvation (p.28) and that are not epistemologically dependent on Western Europe and the United States (p.31). Works such as Akotirene’s have sought an adjustment in the way intersectionality is used to contribute answers to the questions posed by the current Brazilian – and in broader terms, Latin American – reality that comprises police violence against the Black population, the prison system, public policies for preventing violence against women, religious discrimination, and public health, among other issues (De Melo Vasconcellos ­ 2019). 60

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In sum, the travels of the concept of intersectionality in the Latin American region have been accompanied by warnings about the danger of concealing or erasing the contributions of Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean feminisms, highlighting the decolonial imprint in the genealogies of these feminisms. This is the distinctive way in which intersectionality has been applied in Latin America. Distinct debates and issues circulate in each geopolitical sphere, which means that concepts such as intersectionality are applied according to the context in which they are received, and are used for different purposes. Through an intersectional lens it has been possible to see racism as one of the founding principles and structural elements of Latin American social relations and has compelled us to heed some of the open secrets of our societies: that race is an indicator of class; that racism creates gender hierarchies, which place racialised women in positions of greater social vulnerability and that racism engenders not only physical and economic violence but also cultural and epistemological violence, censoring or erasing all knowledge produced outside of the Eurocentric rationale (Ribeiro 2019). In Argentina, for example, an intersectional perspective has revealed that the struggles of Afro and anti-racist movements have very little presence in the country’s feminist organising, a fact which is surprising considering that Argentinian feminism has been so effective in other areas, such as in their capacity for mobilisation and linking politics and society, and even regarding the inclusion of other voices and dissidences, especially LGBTQI+ (De Melo Vasconcellos 2019). In this sense, intersectionality has made visible the oppressive effects of a singular focus on certain subjects by social movements, such as when feminism sets aside the demands of non-white and non-university-educated women; when Black movements forget the specific demands of Black women and LGBTQI+ people; when the LGBTQI+ movement focusses solely on white gay men and leftist movements on the question of class without a gender and ethnicracial perspective. Choosing which oppression to fight first without understanding their interrelationships and mutual effects creates other oppressions (Ribeiro 2018). As intersectionality has gained popularity in Latin America, another debate has started to emerge, concentrated in academia, about its use to analyse situations that do not concern negatively minoritised and racialised women, subjects historically linked to the emergence of intersectionality theory. In my opinion, one cannot limit the scope of intersectionality and its analytical and political relevance to issues related to Black women, not least because it presupposes the social and political marginality of all Black women, and assumes that they constitute a homogeneous social group. And this statement does not relativise the oppression experienced by negatively racialised women, but it does render it more complex (Cooper 2016). It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the concept of intersectionality has made visible a long-held debate within Black feminism and has given it authority and legitimacy in the academic world, which is no small matter (Rodó-Zárate 2021). Nevertheless, we must continue to ensure that the concerns of Black women do not disappear from a body of scholarship that has grown out of the intellectual production and political activism that they created. Maintaining this difficult balance will ensure the continued enjoyment of the main contribution of this theoretical and political concept (Alexander-Floyd 2012): its ability to provide an analytical framework of our social reality that breaks with the logic of universalism, and as such, allows us to understand the complexity in the workings of all forms of oppression. This is why the scope and analytical and political relevance of intersectionality cannot be limited, and because, for example, racialisation and racism do not only affect Black people but society as a whole. It is important to note that indigenous populations are as negatively racialised as Afrodescendant populations 61

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in Latin America. The region’s political and intellectual elites are white and they use their privilege of whiteness to continue to limit the potential of these populations, who they perceive to be an impediment to the country achieving full, modern whiteness. For this reason, I argue that, in order to analyse domination and oppression, the intersectional gaze must include not only dominated and oppressed groups but also the dominant and oppressive social sectors, as well as the intracategorical relations within each group. Having outlined intersectionality’s initial travels through Latin America, I want to examine what is at stake in the region today, with feminist issues having gradually been pushed from the heart of the feminist movement to its edges and beyond. I will argue that one of the consequences of this displacement is the forging of alliances and solidarities with other social movements that defend the interests of other socially minoritised groups.

Towards the Re-politicisation of Intersectionality Latin America has seen numerous changes over the last decade. This is related to the political shortcomings and lack of autonomy of the multicultural state project launched in the 1990s, the rollback of social and political processes and achievements gained within the framework of this project, and the exacerbation of social and racial inequalities and violence linked to the neoliberal model (Hale 2002). One of the effects of the failure of the multicultural project was a renewal of public interest throughout Latin America in the issue of racism, which had repercussions on the anti-racist work of many social movements, including feminism. In this new context, Latin American feminist ideas have been more clearly connected to work on racism, this in great part due to the rapid circulation and growing acceptance of the intersectional perspective (Viveros Vigoya 2015). Certainly, the socio-political context of recent years and aspects of intersectionality’s itinerant nature have brought about a certain re-politicisation of the concept. Intersectionality has acquired new meanings and reinvented itself outside the bounds of universities, on the streets, and in the struggles of social movements. In Argentina and Brazil, “the notion of intersectionality is used to articulate and connect the movements and claims of indigenous and black women, rural and metropolitan communities, sexual minorities and women living in slums, without losing sight of their specificity” (Mezzadra 2021: 3).1 Research by the Afro-Brazilian sociologists Flavia Rios and Edilza Sotero (2019) points to the emergence of a new generation of Brazilian activism. More forthright language has started to be used to illustrate more clearly the connections between feminism and anti-racism in the public sphere with a view to problematise the multiple forms of social oppression. The adoption of a language of intersectionality goes beyond an understanding of how this tool can aid social and political interpretation, and has been embraced by a collective political identity that has emerged amid a transforming public sphere and the dynamics of feminist and anti-racist movements, especially among feminists sceptical of more traditional political activism. This new interpretation changes the term’s meaning, where it is now not only a category for analysis but also a category that shapes the contemporary language of political activism. It contains the terminology and the values that guide the collective action of those who engage in politics on the streets and online. Thus, the term has gone from a noun to an adjective that describes a new type of feminist belonging and, above all, indicates a new way of conceiving feminism itself. Intersectionality is, therefore, a reinvention of feminist thought and practice. 62

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The presence of young women in the different gender activisms in Latin America is becoming increasingly strong and they are leaving their generational mark on collective feminist demands and struggles. An example of this are the mobilisations that took place in Argentina in 2018 for legal, safe, and free abortion. Online activism has allowed feminist collectives to reach beyond university perimeters (Di Napoli 2021). Through social networks, from an early age young women have become familiar with feminist terminology and categories such as intersectionality and are increasingly taking action on a wide range of issues that concern their generation, such as street harassment, the use of inclusive language, and self-assessment of privilege. Indeed, both inside and outside of universities, feminist collectives have broadened the meaning of feminism by including in their agendas new issues that were not previously included in their traditional demands. A good example of this shift is that of an established feminist event in Argentina. In October 2018, after 33 years of the “National Women’s Meeting”, the name of the event was changed, not only to make room for sex and gender dissidence, but also for ethnic-racial diversity. The name chosen was the “Plurinational Meeting of Women, Lesbians, Trans, Transvestites, and Non-binary People” in order to distance the event from the ethno-nationalist and racist vision of the previous Meetings, which had ignored demands for plurinationality. The feminist agenda of these meetings has incorporated anti-racist struggles, with the understanding that feminism can contribute to the construction of a new social majority in a context of the advance of fascist, misogynist, and racist factions (Parra 2021). Another aspect that distinguishes the new Latin American feminist mobilisations from previous ones is their strengthening as a social movement in the midst of the weakening of others, such as the labour and trade union movements, which have been subjected to unprecedented neoliberalist attacks. For this reason, in many countries, feminism is flying the banner of all social activism, gathering up the demands of other social movements. This was the case in Chile between October 2019 and March 2020, a period which saw multiple synergies form between the student movement, the feminist movement, and other left-wing, labour, and social movements. A similar social outpouring was seen in Colombia in April 2021 where feminist collectives, LGBTQI+ organisations, university students, and the campesino, indigenous, and Black movements converged in a single struggle against the repressive social order, privatisation policies, and the government’s systematic noncompliance with the peace agreements. Today, feminist slogans and demands are even creeping into union and labour struggles, evident in the feminist strikes on March 8 each year, first occurring in Argentina and spreading across the region. A shift has occurred in the open rejection of the militant virilism that persists in the political culture of the Latin American left, who only take notice of feminism when it reaches a critical mass. Another interesting dimension of this new generation of active feminists is the clarity with which they see the links between feminism and a defence of the environment. It is worth remembering that this awareness has been inspired by the struggle of many indigenous, campesino, and Afrodescendant women’s movements to defend their land, their communities’ practices, and their natural resources. These movements were the first to propose ways of living different to those imposed by the capitalist system and to highlight the importance of community to all areas of life, and the link between beings, territory (the land), and the Earth. The concept of body-territory, developed as part of the Guatemalan community movement, soon became a political slogan that allowed feminism to connect the defence of body-territory with that of territory-Earth and launch a struggle against transnational mining extractivism, sexual violence, and the 63

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growing numbers of feminicides all at once. In raising awareness of the body-territory, indigenous and community feminisms are making a demand on behalf of all feminisms, that of decolonisation, both as a practical exercise, and as inseparable from depatriarchalisation (Gago 2019). To conclude this section I would like to briefly reference the feminist resistance in which Colombian women took part over the course of the National Strike and mobilisations that began on April 28, 2021, and continued for more than two months, and which marked an important milestone in the history of Colombian social struggles. A first example are the “Mamás primera línea” (Mums of the Front Line) whose task was to lead protests to protect younger people, often their own children, from confrontations with riot police. These mostly non-white, working-class women became a symbol of the struggle waged through the marches that took place in Bogotá and Cali. They expressed an awareness that the public sphere, in its most personal form, is political, and that their experience of social and political marginalisation is shaped primarily by the simultaneous oppressions of class, race, and gender. The second example are the women of the indigenous Misak people of the department of Cauca, who participated in the toppling of various statues of Spanish conquistadors named by the official history as the founders of Cali, Popayán, and Bogotá. Even before the National Strike, they had held a symbolic trial of Sebastián de Belalcázar in Popayán before pulling down his statue and had signed a document demanding historical reparations from the Colombian State, in which they denounced racism, femicides, corruption, and the murder of social leaders. Interventions such as these evidence the political fabric that has been woven between diverse struggles and different social movements such as the feminist, indigenous, student, and trade union movements. These types of political alliances have not previously been spontaneous or natural in feminism, and are the product of the struggles of Black, coloured, and indigenous feminists and their contributions to feminist theory, the anti-racist struggle, and criticism of coloniality. These examples illustrate the differences between the goals and actions around intersectionality in the Global North and in Latin America. In the latter, intersectionality has not only been a theory to be cited in academia but a concept that has been mobilised politically by different social movements to create political coalitions and embark on joint actions. The metaphor of bringing the desks out onto the streets from the title of this chapter alludes to this reality. It is similarly reflected in the expression used by the Chilean student movement during the protests of 2019, “a tu teoría le falta calle” (your theory is not street smart; it is out of touch), to question the position of professors who are only critical in the classroom and do not show solidarity with the student movement. In Latin America, intersectionality is a theory that is by no means “out of touch”. The newer generations of feminists have understood that they can make a greater impact if they integrate their demands into the political agendas of the other social movements and if they establish coalitions across the different struggles rather than thinking of each struggle as a separate fight. This understanding has contributed to the success of Colombia’s vice-president elect, Francia Márquez, who has been conscious of the political potential of an intersectional approach. Campaigning intersectionally has allowed her to connect a philosophy situated and anchored in very specific realities and demands with a project that responds to general concerns raised about the deep socio-economic, ecological, and existential crises facing the planet and its inhabitants. The practices applied by Francia Márquez break with a rationale that has seen different struggles compete 64

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with each other to the benefit of none, and take advantage of what intersectionality can provide: a political framework and an approach that allows us to confront inequality without fragmenting it.

Final Reflections Inspired by Edward Saïd, at the beginning of this chapter I argued that intersectionality is a “travelling theory”, as it has been translated and transformed by each different use and has adapted to each new situation, time and place. The process it has undergone in a region marked by the struggles described above has prompted a re-politicisation of the concept of intersectionality, where what is at stake, to quote Angela Davis, is “not so much the intersectionality of identities, but the intersectionality of struggles” (Davis 2016, 144). I have shown that in the Latin American and Caribbean context, intersectionality has been applied in a way that has gone beyond its use as a framework for understanding the configuration of inequalities through the interrelation of structural oppressions. Intersectionality has been used in the region as a political approach that recognises other forms of “resistance knowledge” and opens up possibilities of collaboration to “support each other’s struggles rather than undermine them”2 (María Lugones cited in González Villamizar and Bueno-Hansen 2021, 563). The intersectional political struggles waged in this region by women from different ethnic groups have made visible the limitations of any single emancipatory discourse, as these tend to adopt a hegemonic position by excluding all others (Viveros Vigoya 2016). By positioning themselves as social leaders and political protagonists, these women are challenging the way in which we have understood politics thus far, and expanding the scope of feminist struggles. The reinvention of intersectionality as the “intersectionality of struggles” seems to foreshadow a new turn towards – and reorganisation within – the politics of solidarity. Rather than being based on vague notions of sisterhood or the idea that some women unreservedly identify with others, this new understanding of solidarity is anchored in shared political and ethical goals. It thus allows for the construction of imagined communities, no longer around sex or colour as inherent or natural characteristics, but around ways of thinking about race, class and gender. The return to the margin of intersectional political thought and action – in the words of bell hooks (1989: 23) – chooses the margin as a space of radical openness. hooks draws a clear distinction between marginality imposed by oppressive structures and marginality chosen as a place of resistance, as the latter is a place of radical openness and possibility. This place of resistance is a critical response to domination and a space forged through struggle. As hooks says: “We know struggle to be that which is difficult, challenging, hard and we know struggle to be that which pleasures, delights, and fulfills desire”. Drawing on her visionary thinking, we can imagine the space of intersectional struggles as a radical creative space that affirms and sustains our subjectivities, and offers us a new place from which we can make renewed sense of feminist struggles.

Notes 1 Own translation. 2 Own translation.


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References Akotirene, Carla (2018). O que é interseccionalidade. Belo Horizonte: Letramento. Akotirene, Carla (2019). Interseccionalidade. São Paulo: Sueli Carneiro; Pólen https://files.cercomp. pdf?1599239359 Alexander-Floyd, Nikol G (2012). “Disappearing acts: Reclaiming Intersectionality in the Social Sciences in a Post—Black Feminist Era.” Feminist Formations 24, no. 1, 1–25. Álvarez, Sonia (1997). “Articulación y transnacionalización de los feminismos latinoamericanos.” Debate Feminista 15, México. Anzaldúa, Gloria (2012) [1987]. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute. Bairros, Luiza (2002). “III Conferência Mundial Contra O Racismo. Dossiê III Conferência Mundial contra o Racismo.” Revista Estudos Feministas 10, no. 1, 169–170. Barroso, Carmen and Albertina Oliveira de Costa (1983). Mulher. Mulheres. Río de Janeiro: Cortez Editora, Fundacão Carlos Chagas. Bilge, Sirma (2010). “De l’analogie à l’articulation: théoriser la différentiation sociale et l’inégalité complexe.” L’homme et lasociété 2–3, nos. 176–177, 43–65. Brah, Avtar and Anne Phoenix (2004). “Ain’t I a Woman? Revisiting Intersectionality.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 5, no. 3, 75–86. Carneiro, Sueli (2005). “Noircir le Féminisme.” Nouvelles Questions Feministes 24, no. 2, 21–26. Cho, Sumi, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Leslie McCall (2013). “Toward a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications and Praxis.” Signs 38, no. 4, 785–810. Combahee River Collective (2014) [1977]. A Black Feminist Statement. Women’s Studies Quarterly 42, no.3/4, 271–280. Cooper, Brittney (2016). Intersectionality. The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory. DOI: 10.1093/ oxfordhb/9780199328581.013.20 Curiel, Ochy (2007). “Crítica poscolonial desde las prácticas políticas del feminismo antirracista.” Nómadas 26, 92–101. Davis, Angela (2016). Freedom Is a Constant Struggle. Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. Davis, Angela (2019). “Black feminism e interseccionalidad de Género, raza y clase.” In Black feminism: teoría crítica, violencias y racismo, by Angela Davis and Gina Dent. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, 35–56. Dell’ Aquila, Marta (2021). “Du centre aux marges. Perspectives contre-hégémoniques autour de l’agency.” PhD diss., Paris 1 and Institut des sciences juridique et philosophique de la Sorbonne. di Napoli, Pablo (2021). Jóvenes, activismos feministas y violencia de género en la Unam: genealogía de un conflicto. Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud 19, no. 2, 1–27. Espinosa Miñoso, Yuderkys (2020). “Interseccionalidad y feminismo descolonial. Volviendo sobre el tema.” Pikara Magazin­ descolonial-volviendo-sobre-el-tema/ Accessed 12 January 2021. Gago, María Verónica (2019). La potencia feminista: o el deseo de cambiarlo todo. Madrid: Traficantes de Sueños. Galván, Sergio (1995). “El mundo étnico-racial dentro del feminismo latinoamericano.” Fempress, special issue, 34–36. Gonzalez, Lélia (1984). “Racismo e sexismo na cultura brasileira.” Revista Ciências Sociais Hoje, 223–244. Gonzalez, Lélia (1988). “Por un feminismo afrolatinoamericano.” Revista Isis International IX, June, 133–141. Gonzalez, Lélia (2018). “A categoria político-cultural da Amefricanidade.” In Primavera para as rosas negras: Lélia Gonzalez em primeira pessoa, by UCPA-União dos Coletivos Pan-Africanistas. São Paulo: Diáspora Africana, 321–334. González Villamizar, Juliana, and Pascha Bueno-Hansen (2021). “The Promise and Perils of Mainstreaming Intersectionality in the Colombian Peace Process.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 15, no. 3, 553–575.


The Travels of Intersectionality in Latin America Hale, Charles R (2002). “Does Multiculturalism Menace? Governance, Cultural Rights and the Politics of Identity in Guatemala”. Journal of Latin American Studies. Ago. Vol. 34, n° 3, p. 485–524. Hill Collins, Patricia (2019). Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. hooks, bell (1989). “Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness.” Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, no. 36, 15–23. De Melo Vasconcellos, Rafaela (2019). “Aportes del feminismo negro brasileño para la perspectiva interseccional.” XIII Jornadas de Sociología. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires. Mezzadra, Sandro (2021). “Intersectionality, Identity, and the Riddle of Class.” Papeles del CEIC 2021/2, heredada 3, 1–10. pceic.22759. Parra, Fabiana (2021). “El feminismo será antirracista o no será.” Joselito Bembé. Revista Político Cultural 2, 37–43. Ratts, Alex and Flavia Rios (2016). “A perspectiva interseccional de Lélia Gonzalez.” In Pensadores negros – Pensadoras negras: Brasil séculos XIX e XX, by Sidney Chalhoub and Ana Flávia Guimarães Pinto. Cruz das Almas: EDUFRB; Belo Horizonte: Fino Traço. 387–403. Ribeiro, Djamila (2018). “Breves reflexiones sobre Lugar de Enunciación.” Relaciones Internacionales, no. 39, 13–18. Ribeiro, Djamila (2019). Lugar de fala. São Paulo: Sueli Carneiro; Pólen. Rios, Flavia and Edilza Sotero (2019). “Apresentação: Gênero em perspectiva interseccional.” PLURAL, Revista do Programa de Pós -Graduação em Sociologia da USP 26, no. 1, 1–10. Rivera Cusicanqui, Silvia (2010). Ch’ixinakax utxiwa: una reflexión sobre prácticas y discursos ­ descolonizadores. Buenos Aires: Tinta Limón. Rodó-Zárate, María (2021). Interseccionalidad. Desigualdades, lugares y emociones. Bellaterra Edicions/Serie general universitaria, 2021. Saïd, Edward (1982). “Traveling Theory.” In The World, the Text, and the Critic, by Edward Saïd. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 226–247. Saïd, Edward. [1994] (2000). “Traveling Theory Reconsidered.” In Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, by Edward Saïd. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 436–452. Viveros Vigoya, Mara (2015). «L’intersectionnalité au prisme du féminisme latino-américain», Raisons Politiques. Les langages de l’Intersectionnalité, 58, ps.39–55. Viveros Vigoya, Mara (2016). “La interseccionalidad: una aproximación situada a la dominación.” Debate Feminista 52, 1–17. Viveros Vigoya, Mara (2020). “Los colores del antirracismo (en Améfrica Ladina).” Sexualidad, Salud y Sociedad – Revista Latinoamericana 36, 19–34.



Developments in Intersectionality Studies

6 INTERSECTIONALITY AND ITS CRITICS Postcolonial-Queer-Feminist Conundrums1 Nikita Dhawan and María do Mar Castro Varela

Intersectional, Postcolonial, and Third World2 Feminism: Convergences and Divergences This chapter outlines the limitations of intersectionality as a formative concept of feminist scholarship and examines its prospects. We assess political gains and the limits for marginalised constituencies within intersectional feminism. These constituencies include racial and religious minorities, colonial subjects, queers, and women. We focus on non-reciprocity between the Global North and South and the foregrounding of certain categories at others’ expense. Despite tensions between intersectional, postcolonial, and Third World feminisms, we argue their genealogies are inextricably connected. These different perspectives could mutually enrich each other by supplementing the omissions and lacunae in their respective approaches. A rigorous analysis of the nexus of imperialism, capitalism, racism, heterosexism, and transphobia through reciprocally illuminating paradigms could help circumvent exclusions and oversights that plague each of these approaches. The interface between intersectional, postcolonial, and Third World feminism is not a given; a concerted effort must be made to make shared agendas and mutual relevance legible. Instead of competing perspectives, we can better grasp intertwined modes of oppression by taking “that differences make a difference” seriously. We firmly believe that one cannot understand the history or meaning of exploitation and oppression without a multidirectional approach. Our collaborative efforts must develop critical vigilance. Postcolonial feminism, a coalescence of postcolonial and feminist insights, argues that imperial structures of domination cannot be understood without investigating the nexus of gender and race relations. Colonialism was a violent clash between Western and precolonial power hierarchies. This paradoxically resulted in colonial and native patriarchal ideologies mutually reinforcing each other. For instance, the experience of sexual and economic exploitation borne by colonised women, who were already disadvantaged in precolonial societies, was markedly different to the oppression of colonised men under colonial rule. Gender, race, class, and religious differences were deeply intertwined to produce complex relations of domination in colonised societies. Accordingly, postcolonial feminists caution against reductive analyses that only focus on one of race, class, or gender and


DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-8

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which disregard their interlocking and reciprocal character. At the same time, postcolonial feminism warns us against overlooking the specificities of the context and premature universalism. In the next section, debate among Indian feminists demonstrates that the relevance of intersectionality in Third World contexts remains contentious and controversial. Intersectional feminism is accused of foregrounding categories of race and gender over class, caste, and antisemitism. Many argue that race, indigeneity, and migration are not identical, and intersectional feminism must be sensitive to these nuances. In what follows, we first focus on a prominent discussion among Indian feminists to highlight the strengths and limits of intersectionality as a “travelling theory” (Said 1983). Then, in the German and French context, we discuss a recent furore where intersectional feminism stood accused of neglecting antisemitism. Our third section outlines how intersectional feminism unintentionally fossilises the individual “human” as its principal analytic category. We examine how— ironically—intersectionality is used by hegemonic discourses and structures to sustain the status quo. Intersectional feminism ends up promising much more than it can deliver—it is “non-performative” (Ahmed 2006). These three sections try to balance the accomplishments of intersectional feminism against its failures.

Intersectionality and the Politics of Location Since the publication in 1991 of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color, intersectionality has become one of the most prominent concepts in feminist scholarship, which promises a robust analysis of different dimensions and scales of oppression. It is touted as a corrective tool that facilitates the examination of hitherto disregarded and indiscernible structures of domination and violence. At the same time, there have been critics who point out that despite its strengths, intersectional feminism reinforces the domination of Euro-American scholarship. It neglects critical perspectives from the Global South; categories like “caste” or “indigeneity” cannot simply be substituted for “race” to smooth intersectional feminism’s path into “other worlds” (Spivak 1988). A good example of the tension between intersectional, postcolonial, and Third World feminism is the dispute between three prominent Indian feminists, Nivedita Menon, Mary John and Meena Gopal. In her contribution in the reputed journal Economic & Political Weekly,3 Menon (2015) questions the universal validity of feminist concepts like intersectionality and their relevance for Third World contexts such as India. Without repudiating the significance of intersectionality for critical scholarship, Menon draws attention to the production and consumption of academic knowledge as well as the “politics of location” (Rich 1986). While feminists from the Global North collect data from postcolonial contexts and then return it to the South as “polished” theory, critical insights from the Global South rarely travel in the opposite direction (Menon 2015: 2). Menon argues that intersectionality is simply a catchword for what has long been considered common sense within Indian feminism, namely, that categories like caste, class, gender, and religion are interdependent. Whether in the field of legal pluralism or policymaking, Menon states, “the ‘single-axis framework’ was never pre-dominant or unchallenged in our parts of the world” (Menon 2015: 4). Dalit4 and adivāsi5 scholars (Guru 1995), for instance, were staunch critics of feminist scholarship and politics for their neglect of the category of caste and their disregard of the survival struggles of disenfranchised groups.6 An instructive example is the discussion 72

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around ideas of “sex work”. Given the long history of forced prostitution, exemplified by the devadasi or jogini system, Dalit feminists reject the radical feminist re-coding of “sex work” in terms of wage labour and free choice. This re-coding conceals the historical coercive relationships that hegemonic upper caste groups maintain by sexually exploiting vulnerable Dalit and adivāsi women, through the nexus of Brahmanism and capitalism. Menon uses this example to illustrate how multi-issue politics were ubiquitous in the Indian context before becoming a rallying cry in the Global North. It is regrettable that critical insights and practices that emerge in Third World contexts do not receive the same attention as Euro-American concepts and theories. Another important criticism raised by Menon is the “mainstreaming” of intersectionality by the UN, which in her view has not only resulted in the de-radicalisation of Crenshaw’s original concept, but also contributed to the de-politicisation of gender studies in general: In international human rights discourses, intersectionality helps perform the function of governmentalising and depoliticising gender, by assuming a pre-existing woman bearing multiple identities7 (Menon 2015: 9) Mary John (2015) disagrees with Menon’s claim that Indian feminist theory has always pursued multi-issue politics. In John’s view, an intersectional approach is unique: it reveals multiple and overlapping discriminations and thereby functions as a corrective methodology “by pointing to a place where identities fail to appear or be recognised as we might have expected them”8 (John 2015: 73). John agrees with Menon’s criticism of Western theory—its claim to be universal means non-Western concepts and theories are dismissed as provincial. However, she warns that simply rejecting all universalism is not an antidote to Eurocentrism: It is true that, given our colonial and postcolonial histories, our intellectual spaces are cluttered with false universalisms. But it is equally true that we have been trapped by false particularisms and ever false rejections of the universal. (John 2015: 75) John reminds us that Crenshaw never claimed that intersectionality was a radically new approach, and always based her concept on the collective history of Black feminism in the US. Meena Gopal (2015) similarly disagrees with Menon’s glowing portrayal of the Indian feminist movement. Gopal highlights the neglect of the category of “class”, a widespread malaise in contemporary feminist scholarship and politics globally. While warning of the dangers of “transplantation” of Western ideas onto postcolonial contexts, all three scholars, despite their strong differences, concede that intersectionality has made an important contribution in reinvigorating feminist theory and politics, even as it is suggested that …there is a profound need for more critical dialogue across global feminist margins and centres. […] intersectionality would make for an excellent candidate in such an endeavour. (Menon 2015) 73

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This Indian debate raises difficult questions for an intersectional feminist scholarship: are different categories simply a legacy of the imperialist modernisation project? While intersectional feminism touts its ability to analyse diverse inequalities simultaneously, its detractors highlight how specific inequalities are given more importance than others. For instance, Black Lives Matter (#BLM) is undoubtedly one of the most defining protest movements of our times and the global reach of its call for justice and equality and criticism of police brutality and racial violence is momentous. Regrettably, parallel protest movements in the Global South do not receive the same attention; they do not speak from First World platforms. Despite repeated efforts by the subaltern to speak, particularly in the Global South, they cannot be heard. Hashtag revolutions and Twitter insurgencies notwithstanding. As Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak argues—astutely—the continued production of subalternity in the postcolonial era is symptomatic of the failures of decolonisation (Spivak 1994 [1988]). It is crucial, therefore, to explore not only the entanglements of different factors and categories across differences in time and space, but also how “gender” and “race” or “class” and “race” can function as conflicting categories in different regional and historical settings. Some categories appear more salient than others. In India, for example, the significance of caste and religion prevails over that of race9—and this also applies to power relations within the Indian diaspora. Instead of simply substituting caste or religion for “race”, it is imperative to analyse how diverse categories collide and collude. This analysis needs to be meticulous. Categories such as “First Nation”, “Native American”, or “pueblos originarios” cannot simply be subsumed under the umbrella term “race”—even less under “migration”. Disregarding these nuances overlooks singular experiences of disenfranchisement. As the polemical debate between Nancy Fraser (1997) and Judith Butler (1997) has taught us, the conflict between categories of “class”, “race” and “gender” endures. Not only do these axes of discrimination overlap and co-constitute each other, but they also clash and side-line each other, and inevitably one is over-emphasised over the other. Spivak cautions us against foregrounding race and (anti)-racism within the Global North. This deprioritises engagement with the gendered international division of labour (Spivak 1990: 126), neglecting intricate strategies of economic, political, and social disenfranchisement within processes of decolonisation. A singular focus on “race” as the prominent category within anti-colonial formations of resistance has meant that decolonisation is equated with the dismantling of racist structures and narratives. As Mahmood Mamdani rightly observes, the historical legitimacy of nationalist governments after decolonisation was principally measured in terms of whether they initiated an effective de-racialisation (Mamdani 1996: 288). Mamdani reminds us that this resulted in “de-racialization without democratization”, for instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa (Mamdani 1996: 288). Framed as “indigenisation programme” or as “nationalisation”, one of the primary aims was to dismantle the privileges that white colonisers had accumulated through racist and imperialist politics. It is interesting that populist regimes in postcolonial countries such as India, Iran, and Brazil conveniently delegitimise “domestic” protests by demonising them as lackeys of Western powers; they blame it as a threat to national sovereignty. Anti-colonial rhetoric against race privilege is weaponised to discredit and undermine contestation of pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial heteronormativity. Even if we must be cautious about overemphasising one category over the others— being particularly vigilant about abstruse forms of discrimination—intersectional feminism should also guard against fetishising the race-class-gender-mantra, which risks overlooking issues that do not fit the formula. Any mechanical citation of a standardised list of 74

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categories either obscures other forms of oppression or subsumes them as etcetera. As Davina Cooper (2004) points out, identities and inequalities that do not result from intersectional categories fall off the analysis grid. The precise and rigorous framing of categories may facilitate data collection—indispensable for progressive policymaking and politics— yet intersectional feminism must develop strategies to deal with the nebulous dynamics of political power. Uncertainty and disorientation from dealing with the complexities of social injustice may only appear to be tamed by strict methodological guidelines. Ultimately we can see a universalist perspective making a comeback—but with it come overly essentialist tendencies. In Gender Trouble Judith Butler alludes to this when she mentions the almost embarrassing “etc.” at the end of the “list of categories” (cf. Butler 1990: 143). Here the “etcetera” as a punctuation mark can be interpreted as either exhaustion or excess and it should be the starting point for any feminist self-critique. Once again universalist practices enter the backdoor because the particular remains dominant. Butler clearly cautions us against a politics that aims to create “positions” from where excluded groups can speak. She objects to the logic by which “positions” function as immaculate, coherent categories (Butler 1993: 111). In her view, the effort should not be to think race, sexuality, and gender in relation to each other as if they are “fully separable axes of power” (Butler 1993: 116). Rather, the theoretical proliferation of “categories” or “positions” should itself be questioned. Like Butler, Menon (2015) examines whether intersectional analysis should limit its subject matter to marginalised positions, or should it carry out a more urgent and radical critical intervention that necessitates a destabilisation of the categories itself. We will return to this in the third section. Hopefully, for now, intersectional, postcolonial, and Third World feminism mutually strengthen each other; if they can supplement each other’s shortcomings and omissions, especially the non-reciprocity between the Global North and South. Let us now turn attention to another criticism, particularly in Europe, against intersectional scholarship as a “travelling theory”,—its neglect of antisemitism. Detractors argue that either intersectional feminists wilfully disregard antisemitism as they fail to see it as a problem of social injustice, or the intersectional approach is unsuitable for the study of antisemitism. For example, the Austrian sociologist Karin Stögner (2021) writes: Currently, global antisemitism is only rarely included in intersectional theory, and Jews are often excluded from feminist anti-racist social movements that claim to be guided by intersectionality. The vehement anti-Zionist orientation of some of these movements, be it Women’s March on Washington, Chicago Dyke March or Black Lives Matter, poses the question: why does the intersectionality framework routinely exclude antisemitism? (Stögner 2020, n.d.) This is a harsh indictment of intersectional feminism, which we examine more closely in the following section.

Entangled Legacies, Entangled Futures In April of 2020—the outset of the Corona pandemic—a huge controversy erupted in Germany about the relationship between Postcolonial, Jewish and Holocaust Studies. The philosopher Achille Mbembe was accused of antisemitism.10 Born in Cameroon, a former 75

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German colony, he had been working on issues of restitution, reparation, and reconciliation. His criticism of the occupation of Palestine, and the comparison of the State of Israel with the apartheid system in South Africa, was condemned for relativising the Holocaust and questioning the Israeli state’s right to exist.11 The accusation of “postcolonial antisemitism” resurfaced during the documenta fifteen in Kassel 2022. Intersectional feminism, decolonial and postcolonial studies are also accused in France of “Islamo-leftism” (islamo-gauchisme).12 This neologism, supposedly coined by Pierre-André Taguieff (2002), applies to an alleged political alliance between leftists (from the Global North and South) and Islamists, who are accused of anti-Zionism and of antisemitism. Time and time again, intersectionality is problematically equated with a form of “political correctness” that stands accused of imperilling Western liberal values and constraining free speech, while it distracts from “real” world problems. Without going into too much detail, we take these as a point of departure—outlining and unpacking the challenge of addressing antisemitism in intersectional feminist scholarship. Willi Goetschel and Ato Quayson (2016: 1), in their introduction to the special issue Jewish Studies and Postcolonialism, make a case for the affinity between Jewish studies and postcolonialism. Along similar lines, we argue that a meticulous intersectional approach should simultaneously address antisemitism and racism, but go beyond a reductionist perspective, not simply focussing on the shared victim status of Jewish, Black, Muslim, and other postcolonial subjects. It should examine the singularities of each experience while highlighting structural entanglements (Goetschel and Quayson 2016: 3). Edward Said (1978: 27–28) ends his Orientalism’s introduction with the observation that there is a shared similarity between Orientalism and antisemitism such that in writing the history of islamophobia, he was “secretly” writing the history of Western antisemitism. Said’s focus is on the European construction of the “Semite” as a linguistic category, which encompassed both Arabs and Jews as “Oriental Semites”. He argues the West continues to play a clandestine role in maintaining the division between Jews and Arabs by focussing on the Judeo-Christian tradition. This resonates with Gil Anijdar (2002: 1), who argues that the West not only produces these oppositions but that maintaining these divisions is central to the re-invention of the West. Black and US Jewish feminists in the 1970s—precursors of intersectional feminism— emphasised the importance of collaboration between scholars and activists working at the juncture of Postcolonial, Jewish and Holocaust Studies. In 1974 Adrienne Rich, Alice Walker13 and Audre Lorde were nominated for the National Book Award in Poetry. Upon learning of the nominations, the three female poets (the former Jewish and the latter two African American) made a pact to decline the award individually if one of them won. All three feminist poets took an enormous risk in standing in solidarity with each other and imperilling their reputation, even before knowing who might be the winner of the prize. At the ceremony, Rich, and Lorde (Walker was not present) read a collaboratively written statement and accepted the award with the following “feminist manifesto”: We, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Alice Walker, together accept this award in the name of all the women whose voices have gone and still go unheard in a patriarchal world, and in the name of those who, like us, have been tolerated as token women in this culture, often at great cost and in great pain. We believe that we can enrich ourselves more in supporting and giving to each other than by competing against each other; and that poetry—if it is poetry—exists in a realm beyond ranking and 76

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comparison. We symbolically join together here in refusing the terms of patriarchal competition and declaring that we will share this prize among us, to be used as best we can for women.14 Lorde’s powerful remark “There is no hierarchy of oppressions” (1983) anticipates the most important insights of intersectional feminism. Lorde brilliantly explains that as a Black, lesbian, woman, she could not afford the luxury of only fighting one form of oppression; the fight against sexism, heterosexism, racism, antisemitism, and capitalism must be contested on multiple fronts without prioritising one over the other. She shares her experience as a lesbian of homophobic discrimination in the Black community along with that of racism as a Black woman in the queer community. In her view, racism is as much an issue for the queer community as heterosexism and homophobia is for the Black community. Lorde (1984) argues that oppression and intolerance of difference come in all guises so that one’s own experience of marginalisation does not automatically evoke solidarity with other discriminated groups. At the same time, Lorde outlines how oppressed groups are pitted against each other and how this division serves the interests of hegemonic groups, who profit from disrupting joint political action. This makes a common fight against multiple axes of inequality ineluctable. There are several recent events that serve as instructive examples of the kinds of entanglement that Lorde addresses. On 9 October 2019, a heavily armed man tried to storm a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle in Saxony. The community had previously requested police protection, but this was not provided by the city. Only a wooden door kept the gunman from firing at 52 Jewish worshippers attending Yom Kippur service inside. The thwarted gunman then shot a female passer-by. Subsequently, the gunman trained his weapons on a nearby kebab take-away “Kiez-Döner”, where he explicitly went in search of Muslims, killing a young man having lunch there. Wearing combat fatigues, he filmed the shooting and broadcast it for 35 minutes on the internet. During the trial, the accused denied the Holocaust—a criminal offence in Germany. Espousing antisemitic, racist, and misogynist ideologies, he asserted that “attacking the synagogue was not a mistake, they are my enemies”.15 The intersectionality of hate was also on display on 6 January 2021 in Washington D.C. at the storming of the United States Capitol. Carrying Confederate flags,16 symbols like “Work Brings Freedom”17 and wearing “Camp Auschwitz Shirt”,18 the violent mob, including neo-fascists and White supremacists, also occupied, vandalised and looted House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offices and left her messages like “Nancy, Bigo was here you bitch”.19 This is an instructive case of toxic antisemitism, racism, imperialism and sexism in concert. Hate crimes, including antisemitic, sexist, and racist incidents in the US hit a four-decade high in 2019. During the violent “Unite the Right” event in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, White supremacists chanted the slogan “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us” while carrying Confederate flags. The slogan referred to the “White genocide conspiracy theory” perpetuated by White supremacists, that there is a deliberate plot masterminded by the Jews to promote miscegenation, nonwhite immigration, interracial marriage and thereby extinction of the white race. This derives from a popular conspiracy theory promoted by the gay French writer Renaud Camus (2020), who argued that the mass migration of Black and Muslim immigrants and their demographic growth had led to “alien” cultures invading and replacing traditional European values. 77

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The legacy of antisemitism and racism on display at Charlottesville is the focus of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman (2018), a film based on the 2014 memoir by Ron Stallworth, in which a Black detective and his Jewish partner infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. The movie describes how two historically oppressed groups joined forces to confront the racism and antisemitism of white supremacism.20 In a metaphorical plot twist, the Black police officer impersonates his Jewish colleague in telephone calls and vice versa, the Jewish colleague goes by the name of the Black police officer in face-to-face meetings with Klansmen.21 The film teaches us the possibility that antisemitism and anti-Black racism can be mitigated through the Black-Jewish alliance. It resonates with Fanon’s astute remark: “At first thought it may seem strange that the anti-Semite’s outlook should be related to that of the Negrophobe. It was my philosophy professor, a native of the Antilles, who recalled the fact to me one day: “Whenever you hear anyone abuse the Jews, pay attention, because he is talking about you.” And I found that he was universally right—by which I meant that I was answerable in my body and my heart for what was done to my brother. Later I realized that he meant, quite simply, an anti-Semite is inevitably anti-Negro.” (Fanon 1986[1967]: 122) Such insights highlight the urgency of thinking together racism, sexism, and antisemitism. Instead of rendering colonialism marginal to Jewish studies, and the Holocaust to Postcolonial Studies, it is urgent to explore important links between imperialism and European fascism (Olusoga/Erichsen 2010). Memory politics and geopolitics could thereby be transformed through a simultaneous analysis of the legacies of colonialism and the Holocaust and enable us to contest the entangled legacies of racism, antisemitism, and heterosexism. In our view, Postcolonial and Jewish Studies can productively work together to unfold the brutality exercised in the name of racial ideologies and imperial political projects. Goetschel and Quayson (2016: 4) note that the year 1492, in which Christopher Columbus is attributed with “discovering” America, is considered the moment when systematic European colonisation was unleashed, was also the year when the Jews were expelled from Spain and consequently Portugal. The colonisation of the New World was partly funded by the resources plundered from the Jewish and Muslim communities. Arendt (1962 [1951]) noted the entanglement of colonial and Nazi imperialism in her work and it remains key for postcolonial studies. For instance, Arendt draws attention to the presence of concentration camps built in the late 19th century by the Spanish in Cuba during the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878) and by the British during the Second Boer War (1899–1902) in present-day South Africa. For Arendt imperialism’s racist and genocidal ideologies and practices established the precedent for Nazism. Arendt characterises this as imperialism’s “boomerang effect”, where dehumanising strategies in the periphery eventually returned to infiltrate European domestic politics. Along similar lines, Aimé Césaire (1955: 7) describes Nazism as “un choc en retour”, which can be translated as return shock or backlash or “reverse effect” (Rothberg 2009: 36). In the last chapter of A Dying Colonialism (1965) on Algeria’s European Minority, which unfortunately has received scant attention, Fanon highlights the significant role of Algerian Jews in the anti-colonial struggle. The pitting of oppressed groups against each other by encouraging a rivalry of suffering was contested by Fanon who focussed on the importance of


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aligning efforts in struggles against dehumanising violence. Fanon cites a Jewish group in Constantine; on the eve of the Battle of Algiers it declared: One of the most pernicious manoeuvres of colonialism in Algeria was and remains the division between Jews and Moslems… The Jews have been in Algeria for more than two thousand years; they are thus an integral part of the Algerian people… Moslems and Jews, children of the same earth, must not fall into the trap of provocation. Rather, they must make a common front against it, not letting themselves be duped by those who, not so long ago, were offhandedly contemplating the total extermination of the Jews as a salutary step in the evolution of humanity. Fanon (1965: 157) Mamdani (2001: 12) compellingly argues that the link between the German Colony’s Herero genocide, committed between 1904 and 1908, and the Holocaust goes beyond the similar race laws, forced labour, internment, and annihilation policy. The ideological overlaps and affinities allude to the larger colonial and fascist projects of Social Darwinism and biopolitics. In his reflections, Said (1992[1979]: 56–58) explores the tension between Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians as well as the refusal of the Arab world to recognise Israel. He examines how any criticism of Zionism is disqualified as “antisemitic”, even as any recognition of the Holocaust is considered a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Said is as critical of Zionism as he is of the refusal to engage with the Holocaust in the Arab world. One of the responses to Said’s critique was censorship, both from the Zionists as well as Arab Nationalists. In Said’s view, a concerted effort must be made to connect the Jewish tragedy with the Palestinian catastrophe towards enabling reconciliation and establishing common ground for coexistence by outlining the affinities between these experiences of violence without flattening the uniqueness of particular sufferings (Said 2001: 285). Supplementing Said’s analysis Ella (1988) addresses the issues of disenfranchisement of Sephardic Jews by Zionism, which is seen as an essentially Ashkenazi (East-European Jewish) project. Mizrahi Jews, Shohat argues, were historically depicted as culturally inferior and faced socio-economic disadvantages. She also engages with the cultural dilemma of being both Jewish and Arab. Likewise Lewis Gordon (2016: 105) reminds us that “The prototypical term raza from which the word “race” emerged was, after all, a Medieval Spanish word to refer to breeds of dogs, horses, Jews and Moors (Afro-Muslims)”. Gordon (2016: 106) outlines the challenges of terms like Jews of colour or Afro-Jews, for it presumes that most Jew are “white” thereby obscuring the possibilities of intersectional embodiments. This has similarly been addressed by Beta Israel, namely, Ethiopian Jews and Bene Israel, namely, Indian Jews. These hyphenated Jewish-postcolonial identities provide instructive insights into the challenges of linking Jewish, Holocaust and Postcolonial studies as well as thinking together antisemitism, racism, and heterosexism. Without discounting the problematic politics of either Fanon, Said, or Walker, our effort in this section has been to emphasise the necessity of thinking together racism, antisemitism and the pernicious legacies of colonialism, without advocating an “add and stir” approach, such that one cannot simply replace racism with antisemitism to “improve” intersectional feminism. This brings us to a constructive theoretical remedy suggested by Jasbir Puar, who attempts a dynamic mapping of social inequalities and resistance by revisiting the Deleuzian


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and Guattarian notion of assemblage. The effort here is to mitigate the prioritising of one identity over others as well as the rigid and exclusionary nature of categories by thinking of discrimination and injustice beyond the very category of “human”. In conclusion, we will summarise the challenges faced by intersectional feminism, as well as the prospects for future politics.

The Politics of Fluidity and Mobility One of the most exciting contributions to feminist scholarship has come from critical posthuman thought (Barad 2003; Braidotti 2013). This exposes the normative biases plaguing the dominant category of the “human”, which is presented as neutral and allencompassing. Lofty discourses of humanism, humanity, humanitarianism and human rights conceal the discriminatory and exclusionary framing of the “human”, which has historically precluded “the sexualized others (women, LBGTQ+); the racialized others (nonEuropeans, indigenous); and the naturalized others (animals, plants, the Earth)” (Braidotti 2020). The effort of critical posthuman thought is to dislodge the centrality of the human in the dominant narrative of andro- and Eurocentric philosophical anthropocentrism. Such an attempt is made by the queer scholar Jasbir Puar (2012), who draws on the Deleuzean idea of assemblage22 to map politics in terms of fleeting, de-centred, and unstable embodiments. In Puar’s view “intersectional identities are the by-products of attempts to still and quell the perpetual motion of assemblages, to capture and reduce them, to harness their threatening mobility” (2012: 50). In place of bodies with identifiable gender, race, or other characteristics, assemblage concentrates on metamorphosis, becoming, intensity, acceleration, rupture, and speed. Dispensing with underlying organisational principles, the constitution of corporeality and embodiment is explained in terms of materialisation, transformation and dissolution. The argument against intersectional subject identities is that it ossifies the “human” as a principal analytic category. As opposed to the fixity of categories, identities, and representations in the intersectional approach, assemblage allows the chaos and capriciousness of forces and practices, thereby opening up possibilities of the undefined and uncharted posthuman politics. Both intersectionality and assemblage are mindful of the effects of specific historical, economic, social, cultural, and political conditions that inflect subject formation; however Puar goes beyond engaging with the co-constitution of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ablebodiedness and addresses the impact of biopower. Instead of centrality of the category of “human” and those of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, or able-bodiedness, focus is on temporality, corporeality, and affect. While intersectional feminism attends to the experiences of BIPOC, assemblage emphasises the fluid entanglements between disparate and multiple factors that resist neat ordering. There is no organic or organised system; rather assemblage unpacks motions of destratification and de-territorialisation (Puar 2012: 50). Deprioritising positionality, assemblage foregrounds the unattributable, the multicausal, the multidirectional, and the liminal. In place of the intersectional focus on the converging power of discrimination or disenfranchisement, assemblage, through analysis of motion, flows and drives, examines how stratified, hierarchical spaces and inequalities are created (Puar 2012: 50). While the intersectional analysis ends up explaining identity in terms of a finite set of combinations of various recognised categories, assemblages are subversively unintelligible, thereby enabling interventions outside the normative frames. Empirical approaches understandably favour 80

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policy-friendly intersectionality to assemblage theory, for the former offers neat categories in which a combination of attributes can help understand social phenomena, while the latter frustrates straightforward data collection and analysis. In response to the concerns about the political applicability of assemblage theory in contrast to the usefulness of intersectionality as a successful tool for political and scholarly transformation, Puar (2012: 50) foregrounds the nuances of nonrepresentational, non-subject-oriented politics as proposed by Gilles Deleuze. Targeting the “problematic reinvestment in the humanist subject” (Puar 2012: 55), assemblage theory questions whether “the marginalized subject is still a viable site from which to produce politics, much less whether the subject is a necessary precursor for politics” (Puar 2021: 55) and whether new forms of exclusions are produced in the process of promoting inclusion through the determination of identity through discourses of difference. In “deexceptionalizing” human subjectivities and bodies (Puar 2012: 57), the performativity of politics is framed beyond human agency. Rather than understanding subjectivity in terms of embodied identities, categories like race, gender, sexuality become encounters, variations, and arrangements between bodies that emerge through processes of de-territorialisation and reterritorialisation (Puar 2012: 57). While Puar is critical of the narrowness of the representation politics of intersectionality and the identitarian interpellations it invokes, Kathy Davis argues that “intersectionality promises feminist scholars of all identities, theoretical perspectives, and political persuasions that they can “have their cake and eat it, too”” (Davis 2008: 72). Davis compellingly highlights the strengths of intersectional approaches, which in her view initiate a “discovery process” that not only assures new critical insights but is ongoing and thus potentially never-ending (Davis 2008: 72). Intersectional feminists rightly point out that paradigms such as assemblage theory sound radical and novel; however in the face of acute disenfranchisement and immiseration globally, their impact on the lives of the vulnerable and the dispossessed in questionable. In our view, like the case of intersectional, postcolonial and Third World feminisms, intersectional and assemblage approaches too can mutually enrich one another by addressing the criticisms and shortcomings. There is no “one size fits all” antidiscrimination politics, so that only through multidirectional explorations and criticisms can we pursue gender justice.

Conclusion Intersectionality has been one of the most significant innovations within recent feminist scholarship, even as it is plagued by the problem of non-performativity, namely, promising more than it can deliver (Ahmed 2006). To mitigate this, intersectional feminism must take stock of its accomplishments and failures and address the following questions: who profits from the success of intersectionality? 23 Is it agency-inducing for gendered subaltern subjects, in that it enables them to intervene and transform dominant structures? Or does the “First World” remain self-obsessed in the name of difference? The other question that needs to be addressed is whether the focus on identities is at the expense of neglecting structures. The aim here is not to revive the old debate between recognition versus redistribution or give priority to political economy over cultural practices (Butler 1997; Fraser 1997). For it is obvious that reductionist economic analyses are just as problematic as “mere” cultural perspectives. No collective “only” suffers from economic exploitation just as no collective is “only” victim of cultural oppression. Furthermore, recognition should not be understood 81

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as a goal decoupled from the question of redistribution. Our approach neither rejects intersectionality nor does it favour class politics over race, gender, or sexuality. Ranking political fields would be counter-productive, even as meticulous analysis on the role of manifold forms of violence is urgent. Here it is important to heed Crenshaw’s warning: “Intersectionality should not become a competition between those claiming oppression”.24 All in all, it can be said that the perfunctory repetition of the race-class-gender formula constitutes a problem of universalism and therefore one of de-politicisation of critical interventions. As argued above, analysis for instance of the international division of labour, although an important feature of processes of decolonisation, remains marginal to intersectional feminism, which neglects the transnational dimension of inequality and injustice. The critical impulses offered by intersectional approaches are politically important, as pointed out by even critics like Menon and Puar. Therefore it is necessary to explore their limitations in order to revitalise them. In light of our entangled histories and futures, it is politically naïve to locate political responsibility within national boundaries. Despite variegated efforts to overcome the economic determinism and understand power and oppression from a multi-dimensional perspective, transnational dimensions of social inequality as a legacy of colonialism continue to be disregarded. We also need to confront the paradox that whenever categories are listed with the aim of providing a comprehensive analysis of varied grounds of discrimination or exclusion, this itemisation risks concealing certain moments of oppression that are not adequately reflected by these inventories. There is the danger of unwittingly ossifying identities, experiences, and practices. A persistent questioning and reflection of both the categories as well as the frames of analysis is imperative. Political interventions must be context specific even as they need to overcome “methodological nationalism” to be sensitive to both the local and the global. Intersectional feminist ought to proffer strategies of resistance without disavowing that resistance produces its own registers of exclusion and appropriation. The postcolonial-queer-feminist conundrum vis-à-vis intersectionality may be resolved if the conditions of non-reciprocity between the Global North and South can be overcome and if certain forms of violence categories are not prioritised over others. Lastly, instead of functioning as a career-making concept for elite transnational feminists, intersectional feminism can be agency-inducing for gendered subaltern subjects. Forming transnational solidarities along class, race and gender lines remains a challenge for postimperial feminist scholarship and politics in the era of neoliberal globalisation.

Notes 1 Some arguments in this chapter first appeared in Dhawan and Castro Varela (2017). These have been expanded and extensively revised. 2 We employ several notions to describe the hegemonic global structures of power and domination. The term ‘First World’, for example, is used synonymously with the ‘global North’ and refers to the so-called G7—the seven ‘leading’ industrialised countries. In contrast, the ‘Third World’ or the ‘Global South’ stands for the member countries of the Group of 77, which is a loose association of over one hundred and thirty formerly colonised states. The term ‘Third World’ was originally used during the Cold War to describe non-aligned states that did not want to be part of either ‘First World’ or ‘Second World’. Today, the term ‘Third World’ is often associated with economic ‘underdevelopment’. It is important to note that postcolonial is not a simple replacement for the descriptions ‘Third World’ or ‘Global South’; we must remember the histories of each of the terms, even if we use them interchangeably (Castro Varela/Dhawan 2020: 36). 3 We are citing from International Viewpoint, an online socialist journal, where the text appeared simultaneous to its publication in the EPW.


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Nikita Dhawan and María do Mar Castro Varela Arendt, H. (1962[1951]): The Origins of Totalitarianism. Cleveland/New York: Meridian. Barad, K. (2003): Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter, in: Signs, 28(3): 801–831. Braidotti, R. (2013): The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press. Braidotti, R. (2020): “We” Are in This Together, But We Are Not One and the Same, in: Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 17(4): 465–469. Brumlik, M. (2021): Postkolonialer Antisemitismus? Achille Mbembe, die palästinensische BDSBewegung und andere Aufreger Bestandsaufnahme einer Diskussion. Hamburg: VSA Verlag. Butler, J. (1990): Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Butler, J. (1993): Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. New York: Routledge. Butler, J. (1997): Merely cultural, in: Social Text, Queer Transitions of Race, Nation, and Gender. No. 52/53: 265–277. Camus, R (2020): You Will Not Replace Us! Paris: Chez l’auteur. Castro Varela, M. and N. Dhawan (2020): Postkoloniale Theorie: Eine kritische Einführung. Stuttgart: UTB. Césaire, A. (1955): Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Cooper, D. (2004): Challenging Diversity. Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crenshaw, K. (1991): Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color, in: Stanford Law Review, 43(6): 1241–1299. Davis, K. (2008): Intersectionality as buzzword, in: Feminist Theory, 19(1): 67–85. Dhawan, N. and Castro Varela, M. (2017): “What Difference Does Difference make?” Diversity, Intersectionality and Transnational Feminist Politics.” In: Dhawan, N. (ed.): Difference that makes no Difference. The Non-Performativity of Intersectionality and Diversity. Special Issue. Wagadu. A Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies (with), vol. 16: 11–39. Fanon, F. (1965): A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, F. (1986[1967]): Black Skins. White Masks. New York: Grove Press. Fraser, Nancy (1997): Heterosexism, Misrecognition, and Capitalism: A Response to Judith Butler, in: Social Text, Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender, No. 52/53: 279–289. Goetschel, W. and A. Quayson (2016): Introduction: Jewish Studies and Postcolonialism, in: The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, 3(1): 1–9. Gopal, M. (2015): Struggles around Gender: Some Clarifications, in: Economic & Political Weekly, 33: 76–77. Gordon, L. (2016): Rarely Kosher: Studying Jews of Color in North America, in: American Jewish History, 100(1): 105–116. Guru, G. (1995): Dalit Women Talk Differently, in: Economic & Political Weekly, 30(41/42): 2548–2550. John, M. E. (2015): Intersectionality. Rejection or Critical Dialogue? Economic & Political Weekly, 33: 72–76. Lorde, A. (1983): There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions, in: Bulletin: Homophobia and Education, 14(3/4): 9. Lorde, A. (1984): Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Portland: The Crossing Press. Mamdani, M. (1996): Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP. Mamdani, M. (2001): When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Menon, N. (2015): Is feminism about ‘women’? A critical view on intersectionality from India. International Viewpoint—online socialist magazine. Retrieved from: Olusoga, D./Erichsen, C. (2010): The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism. London: Faber and Faber. Puar, J. K. (2012): I Would Rather Be a Cyborg Than a Goddess: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory, in: Philosophia, 2(1), 49–66. Rich, A. (1986): Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979–1985 (pp. 210–231). New York: Norton.


Intersectionality and Its Critics Rothberg, M. (2009): Multidirectional Memory Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of ­Decolonization. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Said, E. (1978): Orientalism. New York: Vintage. Said, E. (1983): “Travelling Theory.” In: Said, E. (ed.): The World, the Text and the Critic, Cambridge, ­ MA: Harvard University Press: 226–247. Said, E. (1992 [1992]): The Question of Palestine. New York: Vintage. Said, E. (2001): The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and after. New York: Vintage. Shohat, E. (1988): Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims, in: Social Text, 19/20: 1–35. Spivak, G. C. (1988): In Other Worlds. Essays in Cultural Politics. New York/London: Routledge. Spivak, G. C. (1990): The Post-Colonial Critic. Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues. New York: Routledge. Spivak, G. C. (1994 [1988]): “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In: Patrick Williams/Laura Chrisman (Hg.), Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf: 66–111. Stögner, K. (2020): “Intersectionality and Antisemitism—A New Approach.” In: fathom online, May 2020, (28 July 2021). Stögner, K. (2021): „Intersektionalität zwischen Ideologie und Kritik.“ In: H. Beyer/A.Schauer (eds.): Die Rückkehr der Ideologie. Zur Gegenwart eines Schlüsselbegriffs. Frankfurt/Main: Campus, S. 431–466. Taguieff, P.-A. (2002): Return to a New Judeophobia, in: Cités, special issue “Religions and Democracy”, 12(4): 117–134.


7 THE ANALYTICAL AND THE POLITICAL Situated Intersectionality and Transversal Solidarity Nira Yuval Davis Introduction In this chapter I introduce situated intersectionality as a dialogical theoretical, methodological and, probably most of all, epistemological approach and discuss transversal politics as a related form of dialogical solidarity politics. Both are important but are not reducible to each other. After introducing the main tenets of situated intersectionality and transversal politics, I discuss everyday bordering as an illustrative example of the ways situated intersectionality can be applied to empirical research as well as a launching pad for political campaigning. As reflected in the introduction and other chapters of this book, intersectionality is a controversial field, subject to internal political and theoretical debates as well as attacks from the Right. For me, intersectionality has been a theoretical framework based on a dialogical epistemological approach, which can encompass different kinds of inequalities, simultaneously (ontologically), but enmeshed in each other (concretely) (see, e.g., my 2006 and 2015 articles). I see the choice of using situated intersectionality—as of using any other theoretical framework—as a political act, but I differentiate between using it as a dialogical theoretical and methodological analytical tool, and using its findings and understandings as a dialogical transversal political tool. Many of us have been engaged with this theoretical, methodological and political approach (see, e.g., Anthias & Yuval-Davis, 1983; Brah & Phoenix, 2004; Hancock 2015; Collins 2019) long before 1989 when Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term ‘intersectionality’. To prevent confusion, given the different versions of intersectionality that have developed before and since 1989, I shall focus on my approach which I have called ‘situated intersectionality’ (e.g., Yuval-Davis, 2015; Yuval-Davis, Wemyss & Cassidy, 2019). To reiterate—for me, situated intersectionality is an analytical approach to understanding social, economic and political realities, which is based on a dialogical epistemology. By dialogical epistemology I mean that no single standpoint—neither the most privileged nor the most marginal—can have a full authority re: understanding the true state of the world

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(although, as explained below, this is not a relativist approach). Only a dialogical approach which encompasses the different understandings of those who are differentially positioned can approach a valid understanding of any social situation.

The Main Tenets of Situated Intersectionality First, a situated intersectionality analysis applies to all, not just to the most marginalised and racialised in society. The reasons I insist on this are both analytical and political. They also relate to my academic discipline as a sociologist. When Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) first developed her intersectionality framework she needed it, as a legal scholar, in order to prove discrimination against particular groups of Black women who were not visible in full categorical analysis of all Blacks and all women in the workplace. However, as a sociologist, I want to understand society as a whole. The particular place and power of particular groupings such as Black women and other racialised and discriminated people cannot fully be understood unless it is in the context of understanding the place and power of other social groupings. This is why I argue in my writings (e.g., Yuval-Davis, 2011) that situated intersectionality should replace sociological stratification theories which focus exclusively on class to describe and explain, to an extent, social inequalities. Moreover, focussing only on the racialised ‘other’ can add to the surveillance culture that social scientists contribute to, of the weak and vulnerable in society: I am interested in turning the intersectionality analytical lens to the rich and powerful as well. Another major tenet of situated intersectionality is that it views different social divisions as constituting and shaping each other in specific historical, locational and personal contexts. It therefore avoids collapsing social categories into separate social groupings and does not exclude, like identity politics, analysing power relations within, as well as between, specific social groupings. While ontologically each social division is not reducible to others (Yuval-Davis, 2006), concretely different social divisions are enmeshed in each other, in contested and shifting ways, constituting and shaping each other (usually in a nonsymmetrical way). These occur in different ways in different spatial and temporal locations, as well as in relation to differently positioned people whose different situated gazes might comprehend the social reality and their position in it in different ways. All these social divisions relate to particular dynamics of power relations of exclusion and/or exploitation, which use a variety of legitimate and illegitimate technologies of inferiorisation, intimidation and sometimes actual violence. At the same time, because of their different ontological basis, they cannot be simply added as equivalent. Race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, stage in the life cycle, ability, legal citizenship status and other social divisions work and affect people’s lives—and shape and constitute other social divisions—in different ways, and even at the same time and place. Situated intersectionality is a development of feminist standpoint theory (e.g., Harding, 2004) which claims, in somewhat different ways, that it is vital to account for the social positionings of the social agents—the researcher or the researched—and challenges ‘the god-trick of seeing everything from nowhere’ as a cover and a legitimisation of a hegemonic masculinist ‘positivistic’ positioning of supposed universal truth (e.g., Haraway, 1991). Importantly, however, situated intersectionality is not a relativist position, which endows a status of complete truth to each situated gaze. Approximating ‘the truth’ (Collins, 1990) can only be achieved by a methodological approach based on a dialogical epistemology in


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which as many situated gazes as possible are encompassed into the understanding of the social phenomenon studied. However, situated intersectionality does not conflate and reduce people’s social positionings, emotions and identifications and their normative value systems into each other, although they all affect and are affected by people’s situated gazes, knowledge and imaginations (Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002). Given all of the above, the methodological approach used by situated intersectionality (as I will show later in this chapter), combines the ‘inter-categorical’ and ‘intra-categorical ’ approach which Lesley McCall (2005) has considered as alternative methodological approaches to study intersectionality. It combines the pluriversal approach of recognising the specific vernacular constructions of meanings, with the recognition that even in the same place and time, different people who are situated differently, with different categorical belongings, emotions and identifications as well as normative values systems, would view, understand, as well as assess the same social encounter differently. I shall illustrate this methodological approach in relation to my recent research on ‘everyday bordering’. However, before describing and explaining this research, I want to outline what I mean by dialogical transversal solidarity politics which, I argue, should complement and be informed by (but not be reduced to) situated intersectionality analysis.

The Main Tenets of Transversal Politics Transversal politics (e.g., Yuval-Davis, 1999, 2006; de Goede, 2016; Hill-Collins, 2017) developed as dialogical politics of solidarity of women who belong to different collectivities, often in militarised conflict zones. Getting together across collectivities’ boundaries and states’ borders, they do not share social positionings or emotional identifications, but rather a shared set of normative values, including mutual respect, in spite of asymmetrical power relations. The participants in the dialogue use ‘rooting’ and ‘shifting’ as a way of trying to reach a shared dialogical epistemology of the issues discussed. ‘Rooting’ involves self-reflection and recognition of one’s positioning in relation to the other participants, as well as one’s emotions, identifications and value systems. ’Shifting’ means using one’s creative imagination and respect to attempt to view the encounter from the situated gazes of the other participants. Unlike in identity politics, the participants in the dialogue do not see themselves as ‘representatives’ of their social groupings or categories but rather as their advocates—especially as they are usually more educated, from a different class background, and more articulated and assertive than many others. Given their different positionings, the participants in the dialogue might decide to act together or to follow different courses of concrete action. However, they continue to provide long term support and solidarity to each other. Transversal politics, therefore, differs from the rainbow politics of solidarity which is based solely on defending the rights of the oppressed, excluded or exploited, with whom there is not necessarily shared values or such shared transversal alliance. Although both kinds of politics of solidarity are important, it is also important not to confuse the two in a long-term political activism. Similarly, it is important not to confuse the inclusivity of understanding, which is required in a situated intersectionality analysis, with the normatively bounded inclusivity of trust, which is required in transversal politics. 88

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In order to highlight the difference between the two, as well as to illustrate the epistemological and methodological nature of situated intersectionality as an analytical tool, I will use the study on everyday bordering which I carried out with my colleagues Georgie Wymess and Kathryn Cassidy mentioned above, as well as other colleagues in the EUBORDERSCAPES research programme ( I shall first explain how, by selecting several specific ‘bordering-scapes’ in the UK, we were able to understand bordering analytically by encompassing the situated gazes of differentially positioned participants and observers. While this method of study can superficially be seen as a use of the intra-categorical methodological approach discussed by McCall (2005), it should actually be seen as just one incomplete stage of exploring the issues involved. To clarify this, I shall then describe a comparative press analysis paper on bordering and Roma (Yuval-Davis & al., 2017b) as an illustration of how the situated intersectionality methodology can be used in comparative studies which combine intra- and inter-categorical analyses. At the end of the chapter, I’ll come back to the difference between the dialogical analytical and political, which work as important complements of each other in feminist scholarship and politics.

Everyday Bordering I researched what we came to call ‘everyday bordering’ as part of the EUBORDERSCAPES Project1, funded by the European Community Seventh Framework Programme 2012–2016. It was a very large and diverse research programme with 28 academic partners from across Europe and nearby. I coordinated its Work Package 9 (WP9) on everyday borders with nine international academic partners but did most of the empirical work in the UK (and Calais in France) with my research fellows, Georgie Wemyss and Kathryn Cassidy.2 Below I use material which was collected and published by us, and also from a comparative article which I wrote with other partners from WP9 on Bordering and Roma. The British team, and also the other members of WP9, used situated intersectionality as the methodological approach in our study of bordering. We call it bordering because, far from being static spatial lines used as containers of territorial states, we have argued in our writings (like many others in contemporary border studies) that bordering processes are shifting and dynamic, weaving together arenas of social, political and economic configurations in complex and contested ways. Borderings are crucial to what can be called the discursive landscapes of social power constructions which manifest themselves in different social, economic and political scales everywhere. They are practices that are situated and constituted in macro political negotiations as well as in the everyday life performances being part of the shifting and contested power relations between individuals and groupings as well as in the constructions of individual subjectivities. Thus, to fully understand the role of bordering in contemporary society, we need to encompass in the analysis of more macro social structures and processes also the particular gazes of differentially situated individual and collective social actors. To do so we selected nine ‘bordering-scapes’, i.e., illustrative kinds of social encounters which, when analysed in a situated intersectional way, can help us understand contemporary everyday borderings. These specific bordering-scapes are local but at the same time are also situated in the international context of global borderings orders. The themes explored include the notion of bordering as computer firewalls which pre-select who would be allowed to cross the border and who would be blocked from doing so and under what 89

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conditions; the ways contemporary, everywhere, everyday borderings as constitutive parts of people’s citizenships and belonging; and the growing impact of borderings in constructing indeterminate in-between-ness and grey zones for a larger and larger number of people who live in continuous limbo bordering states, inside as well as outside state borders. Obviously, there is no space in this chapter to describe in detail all the bordering scapes which relate to these themes, as even in the detail they appear in the Bordering book (Yuval-Davis & al., 2019), they are a result of ‘distilling’ several intense years of fieldwork. However, in order to illustrate the dialogical situated intersectionality methodological and epistemological approach, I would like to highlight here several voices of those who are differentially positioned in bordering processes. These different views are important for us in understanding contemporary everyday bordering in Britain, as ‘approaching the truth’ can be achieved only by encompassing these very different situated gazes.

Intra-categorical Exploration: Bordering from the Situated Gazes of Official Border Guards One central perspective is that of the professional border guards. They often see themselves as anti-racist and those we interviewed told us how they enjoyed living in multicultural London, but ‘everyone should prove their right to work’. Their view of the law was dichotomous—‘if you break the (immigration) law, you have to be (arrested, fined, deported etc.)’. ‘Acceptance of diversity is different to an acceptance of when people are here illegally’. In addition, there is often a personal motivation for job satisfaction by carrying out their role well. One of the officers we interviewed told us her astonishment, after working for years in border control on the border, at how many people she now finds ‘got away with it’, and she was determined to catch as many of those who got in illegally as she could. Another, a member of a persecuted ethnic minority in the country he came from, felt no affinity to the members from the ethnic majority of that country—he considered them to be law-breakers and felt that UK laws defend him from them. There was also a gendered element—the women officers we interviewed mocked what they saw as the machoism of their male colleagues who were responsible for the ‘Go Home Vans’ campaign (Jones & al., 2017),3 which met public resistance and was hastily withdrawn. They saw it as an inefficient macho ‘show-off’ and a waste of public money. In contrast, they showed us what they claimed was a much more effective tactic: their small visiting cards which they left at local businesses, supposedly developing good community relations while watching where their appearance created panic and flight among the employees and reporting this to their colleagues who raided the place shortly afterwards. Thus, even when it comes to the meaning of ‘everyday bordering’ from the perspective of the official border guards, no one homogenous statement can describe it. An encompassing intersectional analysis is required. However, the situated gazes of these border guards—even encompassing their diversity (as well as their commonalities)—are not valid as a means to fully understand the meaning of everyday bordering in the UK today.

Intra-categorical Exploration: Bordering from the Situated Gazes of Employers and Employees The places which these border guards raided, often minority ethnic businesses like restaurants and shops, have completely different perspectives on the issue. Employers and employees from racialised ethnic minority backgrounds experienced the everyday border 90

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as confused and as having destructive consequences for people’s lives. Recruitment and employee relations in London’s ethnic enclave economy present complexities related to social networks, kinship obligations, and language and cultural knowledge. The informality of recruitment processes, including the casual employment of kin and co-nationals without permission to work, has been challenged by increased employer penalties. Social ties and practical needs of the business (e.g., the difficulty to find chefs of particular ethnic foods when immigration rules exclude them from those entitled to working visas) mean that many continue to risk large fines and employ irregular migrants. At the same time, employers sometimes refuse employment to legal workers because they find it impossible to distinguish migrants with a right to work from those with false papers. For example, a South Asian grocery shop owner we interviewed would not recruit a person if he was not sure about his or her status: I was going to employ a European guy who comes from Italy but he had no passport, he had his ID card and his medical card, he showed me this and I refused him as I had no idea about it because [I thought] he has to have a passport with a visa … so many countries’ people coming here, so how do I know who has the right to work? (Bordering:108) Although an EU identity card is sufficient for employment purposes, experiences of the devastating effect of the raids on businesses have led to ethnic minority employers feeling targeted. A British Bangladeshi, owner of several restaurants, complained about the ­ enforcement raids: [Home Office people] are making life hell for all the owners of the businesses as they are targeting the owners. I find that they do not really want illegal immigrants’ problem to be sorted out. They are actually targeting all the owners so that if they find anyone there, they can fine them. It is a kind of revenue collection, which is not true Britishness. (op.cit.) He, like others we interviewed, pointed out the destructive effect of these raids on businesses: They raided on the Friday night. Friday and Saturday evening are the busiest in the whole week. They actually target your restaurant, they don’t care about your reputation or damage to business … they just lock the door and they always treat everybody like a criminal … You build a reputation for years and years, that way your thirty years of work, your twenty years of work is down the drain. (op.cit.) Similarly, as the shop-keeper pointed out, ‘if any customer goes into a shop and faces any trouble by the police or immigration officer, will they come again in the shop? Never!’. (op.cit.) Relationships between employers and employees, too, are being damaged by raids and the denunciatory atmosphere they encourage, as another British Bangladeshi businessman reflected: It is creating divisions in the society. Not only between the white indigenous people and the immigrant people, it could just be one of my friends who has fallen out with me. If he knows that I somehow employ one person, just to harass me … so the Home Office are trying their best not to make a cohesive society although they preach for 91

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this … they are trying to employ people as police against each other they are creating a situation of chaos in this society. (op.cit.)

Intra-categorical Exploration: Bordering from the Situated Gazes of Others Engaged in Public Services It is, of course, not only employers from racialised ethnic minorities and not only employers who are required by the ‘hostile environment’ Immigration Acts of 2014 and 2016 (and the recent post-Brexit 2021 Nationality and Border Act) to bear legal responsibility for verifying the legal status of the people they employ. Similar duty falls on landlords, teachers, doctors, bankers and all other members of society who have a formal relationship with any other member of the society. The resentment of the restaurant owner who has been made to be an untrained unpaid border guard is shared by other gate keepers. For example, activists in ‘Docs not Cops’ explained to us how much they see the legal duty to report irregular migrants who seek their services as contradictory to their view of their profession—which is to care for other people, not police them (let alone the consequences of causing migrants to avoid health services for public health as a whole). A Methodist Minister, who is now required by law to report any suspicion of ‘irregular marriage’, which often means just a marriage between somebody from the EEU and somebody from the Global South, remarked to us bitterly: When a couple come to be married your first question should be ‘congratulations, I’m here to help’ but now there is no congratulations, it’s immediately down to the business of ‘Are you legally allowed to be in the country? (Bordering:85) Similar sentiments were expressed by a student advisor in a university: Now, before someone enrols or even applies, if they are a non-British passport holder, whereas what it used to be was ‘what do you want to study?’ now it is ‘What is your immigration status?’ because, depending on your answer, we advise you accordingly. (Bordering:122) Of course, other gatekeepers might enjoy the power and control their bordering role gives them. Irregular migrants told us not only of the appalling conditions of their employment or the state of the houses where they lived and the very high rent they had to pay, but also a couple of women told us how their landlords demanded ‘sexual favours’ as a condition for them being allowed to live in the property. So, in order to understand everyday bordering, we need to include not only diverse situated gazes of the official border guards but also those who are on the receiving end of these policies and actions. Again, their situated gazes differ according to their class positionings, whether they are employers or employed, the precarity of their employment, their gender, stage in the life cycle, but also their normative value system and how they resist/exploit these everyday borderings.

Intra-categorical Exploration: Bordering from the Situated Gazes of Irregular Migrants A particularly significant situated gaze which needs to be included in the encompassing situated intersectionality analysis is that of irregular migrants, for whom borders are 92

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something they have had to overcome. We interviewed migrants who walked all the way from Afghanistan to the UK to try and find education and a better future. We interviewed migrants in the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais who kept on trying, for several years, every night, to cross the border—were caught, arrested, freed and then attempted again and again. We talked to migrants who eventually managed to cross the border and then were put in a grey zone of illegal stay for many years, not being allowed to work but with no recourse to public funds. They have come to embody the border and bordering. Having escaped from a traumatic situation in their countries of origin, undergoing a traumatic and dangerous journey and then being doomed to indefinite existence in a legal, social and economic ‘grey zone’ has badly affected the mental health of some of the more vulnerable among them. As one of the women we interviewed told us (long before the murder of George Floyd): ‘First I was oppressed by family; then I was oppressed by my husband; and now I’m oppressed by the state; I can’t work; I don’t have any money; I can’t go anywhere; I feel suffocated; I can’t breath! (from our documentary film Everyday Borders from the SBS women’s discussion group

Intra-categorical Exploration: Bordering from the Situated Gazes of ‘Frequent Flyers’, Tourists and Shoppers Of course, any inclusive attempt to understand differential situated gazes towards bordering must also include those for whom the problem of border and bordering seems invisible: ‘the frequent flyers’ class of businessmen and professionals who never encountered any problems at borders, and those we interviewed who were not British nationals were able to employ legal services and pay enough money for this problem to disappear after a very short time. As our fieldwork took place before Brexit, the border was invisible also to the many tourists and shoppers we interviewed. In Dover, the English port town where we carried out interviews, ‘too easy’ border crossing and the presence of ‘Others’ (which included both people from the Global South and EU nationals but also people from the north of England) were blamed for all the economic and social ills of the town. I argue that it would be misleading to hear any of the voices described above, on their own, as authoritative on the meaning of bordering in contemporary Britain—in the same way describing an elephant by just detailing its trunk or tail would be. Therefore, in order to understand (rather than to have a normative and political position about) everyday bordering, all situated gazes are as important and cannot be prioritised. Hence, the crucial differentiation between the analytical and the political: in a situated intersectionality analysis, all members of society—not just the marginalised, oppressed and racialised—must be included.

Intra- and Inter-categorical Exploration: Roma and Bordering Before discussing this issue further, I would like to describe a different part of our bordering research that illustrates another strength of the situated intersectionality epistemological and methodological approach. Situated intersectionality is interested not only in the differential situated vernacular gazes of social actors in specific times and spaces but also beyond them, merging the intercategorical as well as the intra-categorical approaches that Lesley McCall (2005) has used to typologise different methodological approaches to the study of intersectionality. 93

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Together with colleagues from Hungary and Finland, members of the EUBORDERSCAPES research programme (Viktor Raju and Miika Trevonen), we decided to examine constructions of everyday bordering for Roma in newspapers in Britain, Hungary and Finland along a stretch of time (Yuval-Davis & al. 2017b). We chose to apply these types of analyses to the press coverage of Roma/bordering issues because the mass media continues to be a key site in which forms of knowledge struggle to achieve the status of ‘common sense’(Gramsci 1971). As Emil Edenborg (2016) argues, the media, by controlling and constraining visibility of particular groupings in particular ways, plays a crucial role in the construction, reproduction and contestation of borders and boundaries in specific political projects of belonging. In our analysis (Yuval-Davis & al. 2017b), we focussed on several generic analytical categories reflecting the construction of Roma in the studied newspapers. We looked at the extent to which Roma voices were included, if at all, thus applying situated intersectionality in multi-spatial, multi-temporal locations as well as differentially positioned voices of the media. We analysed discourses on Roma in one left-of-centre and one right-of-centre newspaper in each country, at particular moments of time during the last two decades when we identified ‘peaks’ of interest. The stories that produced these peaks became the country specific case studies (or ‘bordering-scapes), including one common international case. This examination of discourses of both ‘left’ and ‘right’ mainstream newspapers in Hungary, Finland and the UK has clearly shown that Roma people have been racialised and ‘othered’ in all three countries, although the historical specificity of each country means that these discourses are constructed vernacularly around differing policies, practices and everyday borderings. In each country there were also clear differences between the right and the left press discourses, although the racialisation was common to both. In Hungary, while the right-wing paper blamed the Roma in these stories, the left-wing paper focussed on the solution to the problems. In Finland both papers specify the Roma ethnicity of the migrants from the start, with the right-wing paper evoking exoticising stereotypes of darkeyed wanderers, although in the substance of the editorials and op-eds, there is no significant difference between the newspapers. The papers differed particularly in their approach to the migrant Roma, with the right-wing paper more prone to associate the migrants with crime and to play on racialised stereotypes in its use of images and headlines. Still, both newspapers seem to be characterised by a tendency towards surface-level ‘neutrality’ in avoiding expressly racialised language; while oscillating between ‘victim’ and ‘criminal’ perspectives; and relying heavily on the authorities as a source of information. In the UK, the right-wing paper has tended to construct stereotypical figures of the beggar and criminal Roma, whereas the left-wing one critiqued right wing newspapers for doing so as part of its coverage. The right-wing paper accused the travellers of abusing new legislation, especially the migrants. The left-wing paper used its principles in the travellers’ defence and generally has tended to have a more nuanced and sympathetic coverage. We found that an essential part of the racialised discourses in the situated gazes of the press is the process of homogenisation. Although in the UK and Hungary, the ‘indigenous’ Roma belong to more than one cultural and linguistic group, these differences do not usually appear in the media narratives. While country of origin might be specified, in Finland and the UK, the two countries with migrant Roma, the only significant distinction made is between the local and the migrant Roma. This duality overlaps with a more or less subtle distinction made between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ (or ‘accepted’ and ‘problematic’) Roma, 94

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and works to reproduce racialised discourses on the alleged criminality of the latter. This situated perspective sharpened over the time studied, with the growing migration of Roma to Finland and the UK from Central and Eastern Europe. The situated discourses on the Roma community are caught in the basic ambivalence of the politics of belonging and bordering which are applied, in somewhat different ways in different countries, towards local Roma. Even when constructed as part of the national citizenship body, they are consistently framed as being apart. The recognition of their ‘otherness’ operates both as a means of collective empowerment and self-representation and as means of exclusion, hierarchisation and discrimination. In Hungary, we can see in the different case studies the effects of the shifts in policies and practices towards Roma where, during the Soviet period, forced assimilation policies were enacted to obliterate ethnic distinctiveness and mobile livelihoods. The post-Soviet period saw the rise of selfrepresentation and governance of Roma, but these policies of collective recognition were placed in a socio-economic context of rising unemployment, collapsing public housing and rising racialised violence that acted as a major factor pushing Hungarian Roma towards emigration as well as transnational travel to Western countries. In Finland, the press discourses reveal racialisation of the immigrant Roma, who appear overwhelmingly as anonymous and problematic ‘Others’. Meanwhile, belonging and citizenship of the members of the national Roma minority are rarely questioned, and the press discourses towards them are characterised by an increasing sensitivity and even cautiousness. Still, they are persistently framed as ethnically distinctive ‘special cases’. Racialisation and othering in the UK have been operating in different ways towards local and migrant Roma. The exclusionary discourses towards the former are often connected to anti-Gypsy stereotypes of dangerous ‘nomads’. Unlike in Hungary and Finland where post-war transformations forced Roma to find permanent housing, major sections of UK Roma continue to live in mobile homes. Although British multicultural policies have been aimed at migrants from the former empire, British traditions of patronage, acceptance of and provision for different ways of life were applied also towards the Roma, requiring local councils to provide official caravan sites where Roma could collectively live. This provision was never sufficient in space and often lacked appropriate amenities of education and health. With the neoliberalisation of the British state, the legal space available to Roma became progressively scarcer. Much of the debates in the press focussed on the criminalisation of all those who could not or would not live on these sites, including those who managed to buy private land and wanted to live there on their own terms. Overall, encompassing the different situated gazes of the six newspapers in the three highly divergent country contexts, over a significantly historically changing times, makes our understanding of the ways the Roma are constructed as ‘Others’ as both shifting and contested, yet in highly persistent ways. To sum up, the illustrative example of bordering-scapes in the UK has focussed on the diverse situated gazes of participants in everyday bordering from different positionings who construct different meanings to everyday bordering, affected by their positionings, identifications and normative value system—different meanings that all need to be encompassed in the understanding of everyday bordering in Britain today. The illustrative example of the comparative study of the press of different political leanings in different European countries on Roma and bordering has illustrated how, in order to understand that issue, a vernacular interpretation, even if encompassing diverse situated gazes, is not sufficient; it needs to be encompassed in different spatial, temporal, linguistic, cultural and other differences. 95

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Inherently, therefore, a situated intersectionality analysis can only be contingent subject to our expanding knowledge and understanding, due to encompassing more de-centred situated gazes that can bring us closer to the truth.

The Analytical and the Political In this chapter, I aimed to describe the main tenets of situated intersectionality as a dialogical epistemology and methodology and to illustrate the way it can be used by feminists and others as an analytical tool on which to base political activism. As stated in the introduction, situated intersectionality is not positivist. As such, the situated gaze of the researcher is part of the different situated gazes which are gathered (at the same and different spaces, same and different times by same and different social actors) and encompassed in order to be able to ‘approximate the truth’, as Pat Hill Collins (1990) has advised us already so many years ago. This inclusive understanding of what is going on does not mean that the researcher is as equally sympathetic (or empathetic) to all the differential gazes but rather that s/he can bring the wider and nuanced understanding of the situation to her political activism—which is aimed not at understanding the world but at changing it. Before illustrating how situated intersectionality can be used as a dialogical research methodology, I also described the main tenets of another dialogical epistemology—not of research but of transversal politics of solidarity. Not all politics of solidarity are (or need to be) transversal—as human rights defenders, we ought to defend all those subject to injustice and persecution, whatever their normative value system is, as long as it is clear to us that we defend their rights, not their beliefs and values. Transversal political allies are long term allies and are bound across borders and boundaries by shared normative value systems. It is important to emphasise that shared positionings and identities do not necessarily bring shared values. Before, during and after the bordering research, all of us have been engaged in political campaigns to defend the rights of all racialised groupings and particularly irregular migrants’ rights. But political activism around our bordering research has also led us to strengthen and create closer bonds among several groups and organisations. Not only did they cooperate with us during the research, they produced a documentary film (https://vimeo. com/126315982) and organised a national campaign against everyday bordering which organised meetings in different parts of the UK, in universities, community halls and also the British parliament. Thus, while choosing to engage in situated intersectionality methodology is a political act, and the analytical and empirical understanding acquired during the research can be an effective political tool for campaigning and other forms of political activism, situated intersectionality does not collapse the analytical and the political. Rather than viewing the inclusion of social actors who are not marginalised and racialised in the research as an act of political compromise, this is seen in a situated intersectionality approach as a sign of positive contribution to ‘approaching the truth’. This understanding can help us in political activism, fighting marginalisation and racialisation and other issues of social injustice and inequality, whether it be everyday bordering, exclusion, exploitation at work and beyond.


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Notes 1 2 Publications emanating out of our research can be found in our book Bordering (Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. & Cassidy. K. (2019), our 2018 Sociology article (which won the Sage Sociology prize for excellence and innovation)) and the special issues we co-edited for Ethnic and Racial Studies (2016) and Political Geography (2017). 3 This was an attempt by the Home Office to create a ‘hostile environment’ towards irregular migrants which included sending vans carrying big signs on their sides calling for them to ‘go home’. They created a major backlash and counter demonstrations, and were withdrawn a few weeks after they started circulating neighbourhoods with high rates of racialised and migrant communities.

References Anthias, F. and Yuval-Davis, N., 1983. Contextualizing feminism—gender, ethnic and class divisions. Feminist Review, 15(1), pp. 62–75. Brah, A. and Phoenix, A., 2004. “Ain’t I A woman? Revisiting intersectionality.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, 5(3), pp. 75–86. Chakrabarty, D., 2002. “Universalism and Belonging in the Age of Capital.” In Pollock, S., Bhabha, H., Breckenridge, C. and Chakrabarty, D., eds. Cosmopolitanisms (pp. 82–110). Duke University Press. Collins, P.H., 1990. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Harper Collins. Collins, P.H., 2017. “On Violence, Intersectionality and Transversal Politics.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(9), pp. 1460–1473. Collins, P.H., 2019. Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory. Duke University Press. Crenshaw, K., 1989. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” U. Chi. Legal F., p. 139. de Goede, M., 2016. “Afterword: Transversal Politics.” In Guillaume, X. & Bilgin, P., (eds), Routledge Handbook of International Political Sociology (pp. 355–367). Routledge. Edenborg, E. 2016. “Nothing More to See: Contestations of Belonging and Visibility in the Russian Media.” Lund and Malmo Universities. European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) website. Accessed on 9 September 2015 at http://www.errc. org Gramsci, A. 1971. Selections from The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. Reprint, Lawrence and Wishart, 2010. Hancock, A-M., 2015. Intersectionality: An Intellectual History. Oxford University Press. Haraway, D., 1991. “Simians, Cyborgs and Women, The Reinvention of Women. Free Association Press. Harding, S. (ed.) (2004) The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies. Routledge. Jones, H., Gunaratnam, Y., Bhattacharyya, G., Davies, W., Dhaliwal, S., Forkert, K., Jackson, E. and Saltus, R., 2017. Go Home?: The Politics of Immigration Controversies. Manchester University Press. McCall, L., 2005. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30(3), pp. 1771–1800. Stoetzler, M. and Yuval-Davis, N., 2002. “Standpoint Theory, Situated Knowledge and the Situated Imagination.” Feminist Theory, 3(3), pp. 315–333. Yuval-Davis, N., 1999. “What Is ‘Transversal Politics?”. Soundings. Lawrence and Wishart, pp. 88–93. Yuval-Davis, N., 2006a. “Intersectionality and Feminist Politics.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3), pp. 193–209. Yuval-Davis, N., 2006b. “Human/Women’s Rights and Feminist Transversal Politics.” In: Myra Marx-Ferree and Aili Mari Tripp (eds), Global Feminism: Transnational Women’s Activism, Organizing, and Human Rights, pp. 275–295, New York: New York University Press.


Nira Yuval Davis Yuval-Davis, N., 2011. “Beyond the Recognition and Re-distribution Dichotomy: Intersectionality and Stratification.” In H. Lutz, M. T. Herrera Viva & L. Spuil (eds.), Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies, Ashgate, pp. 155–170. Yuval-Davis, N., 2015, “Situated Intersectionality and Social Inequality.” Raisons Politiques, no. 58, pp. 91–100. Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K. eds., 2016, Racialized Bordering Discourses on ­European Roma, special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies (also published as book by Routledge, 2017). Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K. eds., 2017a, “Situated Intersectional Approaches to Everyday Bordering in Contemporary Europe” special issue of Political Geography. Yuval-Davis, N., Varjú, V., Tervonen, M., Hakim, J. and Fathi, M., 2017b, “Press Discourses on Roma in the UK, Finland and Hungary.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(7), pp. 1151–1169. Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K., 2018, “Everyday Bordering, Belonging and the Re-Orientation of British Immigration Legislation.” with G. Wemyss & K. Cassidy, Sociology, 52(2), pp. 228–244. Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K., 2019, Bordering. Polity Press.


8 INTERSECTIONALITY AT THE MACRO-LEVEL Social Theory as Practice1 Maria J. Azocar and Myra Marx Ferree

The macro-level of social organisation refers to whole societal systems that connect their institutions into meaningful structural patterns. The macro-level is where stratification theories attempt to capture the underlying processes generating inequality across the globe. These processes are understood as historical connections that help to explain both consistency and change in the social distribution of resources and opportunities. In sociology, a field that is defined by its focus on societies as meaningful units, Marx and Weber are often cited as the figures who set the agenda for studying these underlying processes, and they unashamedly placed capitalism in central position. Following such leads, contemporary political critiques of the “global market economy”, “neoliberalism” and “globalisation” focus on economic transformations. Usually, both sociological theory and political critique then simply add “other” supposedly sub-group specific, concerns to these economistic models to acknowledge the significance of race, gender, nation or sexuality in multiplying experiences of injustice. We call these enhanced descriptions of stratification processes “class-plus” models because they fail to bring systems of oppression, such as colonialism, racism or patriarchy, into their analysis as macro-processes of equally world-shaping significance. One class-plus approach employs Marx-inspired socialist theory to present the macro-social relations of inequality as capitalism’s continual self-remodelling to cope with the contradictions of its previous forms, thus developing its exploitation into the specific present-day form of neoliberalism (e.g., Fraser 2013). Another strand implicitly or explicitly endorses a Weberian, liberal understanding of modernity as progress. In this view, globalisation appears as “development”, a process of socio-economic change that brings societies along a linear route from “backwardness” to societal maturity (Thornton 2001). Although class-plus theories offer appealing macro-models in which gender/sexuality and race/nation are discussed as significant modifiers of their otherwise economistic view of history (patriarchal capitalism, racial capitalism and so on), we believe that intersectional theorising aims to do more. We see the goal of macro-intersectional theorisation as understanding the co-construction of inequalities, that is, how macro-level changes interactively enlist multiple processes of power relations, which are formed in historical interaction among capitalist, hetero-patriarchal, colonialist and racialising systems of oppression 99

DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-10

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(Collins 2019, Espinosa Miñoso 2019, Peterson 2020). These stratification systems are more than merely economic. They work in and through relations of power that produce and reproduce borders and hierarchies, shaping how human populations understand themselves and others. These are more than merely cultural systems, as they work on and through concrete material forces such as births and deaths, institutionalised inclusions and exclusions, and violence. Moreover, the material bases of race and gender as systems are not, as is too often assumed, the group or individual differences in which social distinctions are biologised, essentialised and legitimated, but the social systems that produce and reproduce differences among human beings to appropriate, subordinate, exclude and exterminate entire populations (Bonilla-Silva 1997, Glenn 1999, Lugones 2007, Hernandez-Reyes 2019). In other words, co-construction of inequality at the macro-level implies more than following the changes in institutions like families and schools that capitalism produces to manage its internal contradictions. Intersectional theory re-imagines how the material organisation of systems of oppression based on race, nation, ability, gender and sexuality matters, not only by making capitalism possible and changing how it is organised, but also by forming and perpetuating socially meaningful populations that relate to each other in terms of hierarchical categorisations (Collins 2019, Ken and Helmuth 2021). In this chapter, we compare “class-plus” analyses with intersectional ones, arguing that unpacking the intersecting macro-level dynamics of historical change is crucial. We begin with a critical examination of diverse efforts to theorise stratification in “class-plus” terms, and then consider how intersectionality can do more than add attention to gender and race. Looking at current theorising of the macro-level dynamic of multiple, co-constructing systems of domination, we point to three different approaches of increasing complexity. First, from a multi-dimensional power approach, macro-intersectional models emphasise the historical forms of co-equal systems of oppression, such as patriarchy and colonialism, and point to them as fundamental to the continuing significance of violence in making and erasing whole populations (hooks 1984, McClintock 1995, Segato 2006, Lugones 2007, Pulido 2016). Second, stressing an anti-additive approach, intersectionality considers how the nature of organisations, and the experiences of individuals, are formed by these specific co-dependent systems of oppression, not as “varieties of capitalism” but as matrixes of historically grounded patterned dominations (Acker 1999, Clarke and McCall 2013, Wingfield 2019). Third, intersectionality draws on standpoint theories and normative perspectives to challenge the authority of Western expertise, proposing that knowledge production about intersecting systems of power should arise in collaborative critiques intended to transform these systems (Roth 2013, Collins 2019, Espinosa Miñoso 2019). Thus, macrolevel intersectional theory aims to build a critical understanding of past, present and future social structural change from direct experiences of systemic oppression and from locally specific social movement struggles that are deliberately multi-dimensional (Moore 2010; Zavella 2020). Patricia Hill Collins recently suggested a need for new metaphors to think about the interconnection of experience with systems of oppression (2019). She invited theorists to imagine new forms of doing critical theory, outside the Western linear narrative of progress, that centre intersectional goals for comprehensive social justice. At the end of the chapter, we take up this challenge by elevating the work done by theorists in Latin America who propose thinking of the world’s interconnectedness as a pluriverse. They see doing theory


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as a form of ethics, a doing with others towards the radical goal of imagining futures where everybody, everywhere, lives a life in plenitude.

Capitalism and Historical Change: Class-Plus Theories Marx’s and Weber’s theories of capitalism are often cited as the building blocks of stratification theories (Wright 2000). For them, the social world is a web of social relations, giving shape to recurring patterns of stratification that over time look normal, functional, and natural. However, as Marx famously stated in the Preface to Capital, “society is not a solid crystal, but an organism capable of change, and constantly engaged in a process of change” (Marx 1993 [1894], p. 93). Social theory, then, is the tool to expose both the social world’s unity and its fragility and to imagine alternative histories (Cordero 2017). Marx’s theory conceptualised capitalism as a system of wealth accumulation generating relations of exploitation of labour (from a class of workers) in the service of profit (of owners as a class). However, capitalism rested on a fundamental paradox: on the one hand, it has a self-expanding drive to make everyone and everything a source of profit; on the other hand, societal survival depends on conditions of human reproduction that are not profitable (1993 [1894]). Crisis is inevitable in a capitalist society unless capitalism uses extra-economic mechanisms across institutions to reinforce itself in new directions. Engels famously framed male domination as an extra-economic mechanism that reproduces capital accumulation via marriage, inheritance, and private property (1972 [1884]). We can think of race and welfare politics as other creative mechanisms: race can be used by capitalists to divide the working class and diffuse conflict; and welfare politics that target the poor, women, and people of colour can be used by states to legitimise capitalist accumulation (Offe 1975; O’Connor 2002 [1973]). The key point here is that “other inequalities” are understood as instruments, “in the service of” or “functional” to capitalism, which is the underlying process generating inequality in class positions. Max Weber’s view of the social order and change centred on relations of domination, not labour exploitation (1978 [1915–1921]). For him, history was a story of material and moral change. His focus was on how the relations taken as rational changed over time, connecting forms of justification with the accelerating processes of secularisation, urbanisation, and bureaucratisation spurred by industrialisation. Modern capitalism develops through an instrumental rationale that becomes increasingly dehumanising, closing down alternative meanings of life and trapping individuals in its achievement-oriented “iron cage” (Weber 1958a [1904–1905]). However, by distinguishing class (defined by economic assets) from rank (defined by social honour, e.g., gender and race as ascribed or inborn characteristics), Weber acknowledged stratification as a multi-dimensional phenomenon, even as he imagined that rank’s ascribed significance was disappearing (Weber 1958a [1904–1905], 1958b [1906], 1978 [1915–1921]). Weber’s distinction between rank and class followed a linear logic of historical change (establishing a binary distinction between traditionalism and modernism) that makes capitalism and its instrumental rationale an inevitable final destination. Today, mainstream US sociology uses the work of Bourdieu to complement Marx’s and Weber’s approaches to social stratification. Bourdieu, deploying the language of “capital” (economic, political, social, cultural, symbolic), gave more weight to how gender, race, and sexuality actually contributed to constituting classes. We can recognise the contemporary


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language of “privilege” as reflecting his theory of how having advantages that are displayed and recognised as elite became the social-cultural relation that defined class position. Social capital (networks of mutual aid among the elite) and cultural capital (tastes and demeanours) were especially seen as being conveyed and accumulated through education. By placing education at the centre, Bourdieu recognised how the economy itself had changed to create a new hierarchy of class positions that Marx had not imagined. He also described how cultural mechanisms secured and reproduced hierarchies, undercutting the distinction Weber saw between achieved and ascribed statuses (Bourdieu and Passeron 1979, Bourdieu 1984, Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992). But in Bourdieu’s view, the cultural dynamics of white or male privilege still serve a capitalist macro-system (Byrne 2009). Marx, Weber, and Bourdieu share an emphasis on the importance of societal-scale social relations—exploitation, domination, and elite legitimisation—and their historical changes. Their macro-models explain how social relations are historically defined and then explain how these generate structures operating through institutions. Thus, families and workplaces, politics and schooling, and even leisure and love are all framed in terms of “systems” defined as social changes in structures that emerge via particular processes. These system theories, however, are problematic when they make capitalism the sole motor of historical transformation (Walby 2009). Class-plus theories treat other processes as “secondary contradictions” that can only be addressed once capitalism and its changes are put at the centre of the story. Struggles over “neoliberalism” and “globalisation” therefore are separated from and prioritised over anti-colonial ones, and gender violence is treated as primarily present in “backward” communities. Attempting to achieve more balance in theorising inequalities and social change, Marxist feminists in the 1970s engaged with socialism with a critical awareness of women’s marginality in mainstream Western narratives. The “dual-systems” theories proposed made for awkward relationships—an “unhappy marriage” at best (Hartmann 1979, Sargent 1981). Almost by definition, “dual” systems theories were relatively inattentive to the multiplicity of structural oppressions and tended to make the whiteness of women and the heteronormativity of family invisible as forces with co-constructing power to organise reproduction. As a class-plus perspective, dual systems theories drew attention to both paid and unpaid reproductive labour but interpreted this work through the lens of capitalism (Fraser 2017). However, by attempting to add “women” and the work of human reproduction into a narrative of historical change, the racialisation of populations and differences in material conditions and meanings of reproduction became more apparent, as did the need to further theorise them (Rollins 1984, Glenn 1992). Today, Social Reproduction Theory (Bhattacharya 2017, Gimenez 2019) builds on the dual system tradition of thought. For these theorists, the economy is not only comprised of wage-labour but also the “complex network of social processes and human relations that produces the conditions of existence” (Bhattacharya 2017, p. 2). Capitalism depends on domestic labour as well as all the institutions set up for producing people: housing, schools, hospitals, etc. Nevertheless, the key “root” of inequality remains the “‘social-reproductive contradiction of capitalism’” (Fraser 2017, p. 22) that causes macro-societal crises. The idea that class works at a societal level, race and nation at the level of collective identities and contested institutional exclusions, and gender and sexuality at a level of individual self-making and interpersonal interaction is deeply embedded in popular views of inequalities, whether socialist or neoliberal. Yet by separating class, race and gender into these different levels of analysis, the task of theorising the co-constitution of their structural 102

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formations becomes impossible (Ferree and Hall 1996). Thus, doing more than adding “socio-cultural” features to a materially economic model of history demands rethinking how societies work at their core. This is where what we call macro-level intersectional theory comes in. Co-construction at this macro-level means change comes in generative historical power relations, like colonialism, racism, and patriarchy, which, in turn, face social movements that transform them (e.g., into neo-coloniality, colour-blind racism, and brotherhood-based liberalism) as well as sustain them in institutional patterns that are not dictated by the “needs of capitalism”. These macro-historical processes co-construct inequality as whole, multi-determined systems. They reproduce and transform the locally specific meso-level institutions and micro-level identities that are powerfully experienced as sites of intersectionality by both the researchers and their subjects of enquiry (Collins 2019, Labelle 2020).

The Co-Construction of Social Inequalities We approach the development of a macro-theoretical model of intersectionality as reflecting three (not necessarily chronological) steps. At the most fundamental level, intersectional macro-theorising sees stratification as a matter of signifying relations of power (Scott 1986, p. 1067) that are historically significant for explaining societal changes (Boatcă and Roth 2016). From this perspective, inequalities are conceptualised as processes (racialisation and gendering instead of race and gender). Stressing these processes as historically significant social relations challenges the treatment of inequalities solely at the level of individual selfmaking and interpersonal interaction (gender as a synonym for women and race as a construct applied to people of colour). Instead, attention goes to how changing processes of hierarchical categorisation work through material embodiment and violence at all levels (from the individual to families, organisations, nations and the societal), no matter the phase of capitalism (slavery, industrial, financialised, etc.). Without a historical perspective on societal arrangements, such intersectional theorising is impossible. This first step of historicising the active and distinct processes that form hierarchies produces what we call a multi-dimensional power model. The second step is to connect the formation of capitalism and capitalists with contextspecific social relations of domination, including colonialism (Lugones 2007), racism (Pulido 2016), heterosexuality (Stoler 1995), gender (de Goede 2001), orientalism and citizenship (Boatcă and Roth 2016). Here, the focus is on how interlocking systems of oppression shape different forms of capitalism and at the same time exceed the desires for capital accumulation (Pulido 2016). The relational dynamics of superiority/inferiority and insider/ outsider attributed to families (and clans, nations, races and other claims about imagined communities) run through these systems for exercising and legitimating power (Collins 2001, Peterson 2010, Ferree 2020). The third step is to theorise this complexity from the sites where these dynamics are brought together experientially (Carbado et al. 2013, Collins 2019, Hernandez-Reyes, 2019, Wingfield 2019). The class-plus model is limited not only because it misses causally important social relations of domination, but also because it relies on a form of instrumentally rational top-down theorising that reflects a colonial view of knowledge production and a capitalism-centric analysis. Focussing on experience, a macro-theoretical model of intersectionality prescribes neither a single future for all (Marx’s classless society) nor a future that denies hope (Weber’s iron cage). Instead, by conceptualising the variety of 103

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intersections where change is actually experienced, intersectional theorising can envision a pluriverse of futures where everyone, everywhere, can live their lives in plenitude (Cabnal 2010, Hernandez-Castillo 2017, Erpel 2018).

Multi-Dimensional Power The development of intersectionality as a metaphor and theoretical spur for moving beyond class-plus models arose through the efforts of women of colour to name forms of oppression as indicative of structured interdependency among different but somehow complementary and non-independent forces. For example, Glenn (1992) expanded the recognition that class-plus models had brought to reproductive labour by focussing on the power relations that structured racialised assignments of reproductive responsibilities—sometimes drawing them into capitalist markets and sometimes not, but consistently assigning the most physically demanding, dirtiest and undervalued forms of work to women of colour. Rather than merely serving capitalism, such divisions reflected power relations defined by racial categories. Other intersectional theorists continued this trajectory by studying the social relations of gender and race working together in the realm of care work and across different phases of capitalist exploitation, such as hospital aides and nurses in the neoliberal era (Trotter 2020) and globally, through chains of care that connect women from the Global South to privileged women from the Global North (Parreñas 2001). Centuries of feminist organising have shown that no matter the moment in capitalist history, violence against subordinated populations, and in particular against women of colour, ultimately harm and destroy entire communities, territories, and generations (Davis 1981, hooks 1984, Federici 2004, Hernandez-Reyes 2019, Lozano-Lerma 2019). Because of this history, it is unsurprising that today in Latin America, women are on the frontlines of anti-racist and anti-capitalist social movements, literally defending their lives and lands, or what they call their “body-territory” (Ulloa 2016). Extractive capitalism in Latin America has depended on state-sponsored militarism to displace entire communities, destroying their cultural and spiritual bonds and erasing their territories from the collective imaginary (Lozano-Lerma 2019). The harm against communities living in sacrifice zones in Latin America is the result of co-constructed power relations that condemn some physical human bodies, and the historically embodied communities and lands that support them, as inferior and disposable. Similarly, organised resistance to impunity for police violence against Black bodies is notably found today in movements led by Black women both in the US (#BLM) and in France; the concept of “Blackness” in each state has a different historically specific referent (to slavery and to colonialism) as the source of the violence institutionalised in its respective police practices (Beaman 2021). R.W. Connell also focussed on the “realm of reproduction” and studied how gender relations generate a variety of masculinities across and through relations of labour, embodiment and racialisation (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). The macro-insights of Connell’s work emphasise the contradictions and crisis tendencies built into gender relations that assert a binary that is not found in nature but which must be produced and reproduced socially (Connell 2021). Sexualities and the politics of partnership and reproduction give rise to historically specific categories such as man/woman, masculine/feminine, gay/straight, cis/trans* and binary/queer that, in turn, are used politically to both form and disrupt relationships that rely on violence to sustain inequalities (Roth 2013, Garcia-Del Moral and Dersnah 2014). 104

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Another way of understanding stratification and inequality at the macro-level is by examining the roles of state policy, national welfare institutions and imagined national communities in signifying multi-dimensional relations of power. Nira Yuval-Davis, for example, highlighted the interplay of gender and nation as categories that states formed and used in order to reproduce a population with particular characteristics over time (1997). Although Yuval-Davis stressed how intersectional gender-race regimes play out in more or less explicit restrictions on women, from dress to childbearing, to ensure state survival, Dorit Geva (2013) shows that the state also targeted men’s bodies, especially as the development of mass conscription came to define the modern nation-state. How conscription operated in the US historically reflected the different values of white and Black families and the gendered distribution of labour in each. Because power is multi-dimensional, so too are the struggles over its distribution and redistribution both within and across states. For example, the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, age and geographic location are mobilised actively by social movements, notably the current ones on the populist right in the US and Europe (Verloo and Paternotte 2018, Ferree 2020). The symbolic importance of framing manufacturing jobs as “men’s”, constructing a male “breadwinner role” in the family, and organising state welfare systems as “national entitlements” combine to make economic change perceptible to many in largely gendered and racialised terms (Ferree 2021). All these examples show that rendering human beings inferior and superior through the value-laden categories of race (and nation) and gender (and sexuality) implies ideology (or a cultural mechanism) but not necessarily one that serves capitalism as the only power relationship nor one that imagines the source of conflict as solely material (Glenn 1999, Korteweg and Yurdakul 2014). The confusion arises when the material basis of gender or race is assumed to be located in the bodies of the categorised and not in the violent power over bodies of those doing the categorising. This violence is erased and naturalised when domination is naturalised as “merely” capitalism at work in history. Changes in non-economic forms of power draw attention to the multiple processes of categorisation that are integral to establishing inequalities over time. In a context in which categories are formed for multi-faceted purposes of domination, the active “gendering” of occupations, people, roles and even power itself helps highlight the societal work that goes into making them. Rather than seeing gender, sexuality and “races” as biologised, pre-social, and static categories, they are recognised as historical processes with their own deep roots in social systems of oppression, such as colonialism and slavery (Robinson 2000 [1983], Collins 2001, Lugones 2007, Boatcă and Roth 2016, Peterson 2020).

Intersectional Processes Shaping Capitalists and Capitalisms Seen intersectionally, national identities and the emergence of nation-states as a modern form of political authority seem less reducible to being mere tools of a capitalist ruling strategy and stand out as deeply felt parts of human experience (Connell 2021). These categories differentially empower people and groups in relation to each other and, in so doing, they give rise to different forms of capitalists and capitalisms. For example, Stoler (1995, 2002) showed how important it was for Dutch colonisers to discipline their sexual desires to claim their class superiority over other Europeans in the colonies. As she explained, the colonial project was carried out in a constant state of anxiety among the colonisers over what it meant to be a “true European” (1995, p. 16). Who 105

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was “European” was established through ideas of racial virility and sexual control. Proper Europeans were the ones who exploited native women and subordinated White European women. In turn, this racial and sexual grammar encoded class inequality among European men. When new anxieties emerged about subordinated White men allowing their sexual interests to pollute their whiteness, elites promoted marriage for them. In this way, the “true European” was a man who enacted a middle-class respectability politics in the form of white purity (2002, p. 65). Thus, the regime of racial and sexual power helped form categories of belonging, including capitalist, European, and men. Such a rich account of the making of capitalists as Europeans and men shows that categorisations are powerful processes in their own right and have histories of change that matter for social stratification. The multi-dimensional power of categorisation has been relevant in the making of financial capitalism as well. As explained by de Goede (2001), the cultural meaning of masculinity is deeply embedded in financial capitalism. Credit and money lending were not considered legitimate social actions before the 19th century. Credit, for example, was conceptualised as a “whore” (De Goede 2001, p. 27), that is, as a terrain of chaos and madness, emotional instability, corruption and seductive temptations. Only as accounting and the calculation of risks became masculinised, classed, and raced as a scientific activity based on the superior gentlemanly virtues of rational calculation, punctual payment, responsibility and self-discipline did “finance” emerge as morally superior to “gambling”. In this way, the wealth created through credit markets became a legitimate form of capitalism and the racialisation and masculinisation of “finance” allowed it to become a superior field for producing legitimate wealth among heroic Western men, who were self-confident in their scientific judgement and willing to take risks at any opportunity, including speculation on deaths, illness, accidents, and old age (de Goede 2001). Focussing on labour rights as an output of social struggles, Glenn (2002) studied the historical changes in US laws that conferred societal membership rights on workers via manhood and whiteness. Citizenship, or access to legal rights, constructed labour relations in different ways in different parts of the country by positioning women and men of dominant and subordinate groups in differently understood relationships of domination. For example, in the Southeast, the opposing groups were understood as White/Black and laws tried to fit people of Asian origin into these categories, while in the Southwest, power struggles between “Hispanics and Anglos” were key and peoples of indigenous or African descent needed to be fit into those categories. Glenn shows how these race and gender categories produced real structures and organised the struggles between dominant and subordinated groups in historically meaningful patterns. Importantly, Stoler, de Goede and Glenn show how categorisation as a social process does not ignore capitalism but rather constructs and changes it (Bohrer 2018). Processes of categorisation create communities of practice formed around perceptions of shared relations to power and injustice, reconnecting the meso- and micro-levels of lived experience with patterns of colonialism, nationalism, citizenship, racialisation and gendering. These take historically specific forms such as White supremacy, hetero-patriarchal marriage, national citizenship and many others. Each pattern draws power from and offers legitimacy to the others, producing relations of ongoing support as well as points of contradiction and fragility. In conclusion, focussing on the co-construction of systems of oppression shows, on the one hand, how diverse relations of subordination create boundaries and hierarchies that define superior and inferior human beings and open opportunities for historically specific 106

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forms of labour exploitation, class constitution, and wealth accumulation to emerge. On the other hand, economic forms of domination are used to pursue state interests in “their” populations over time and draw on capitalism as a tool to invest in exterminating communities, defining group borders, instituting nationality-specific welfare measures, and directly pursuing pro- or anti-natalist policies selectively to grow or shrink sub-populations according to racialised categories of value. Unlike Weber’s view, intersectional macro-theory does not assume the role of ascribed difference is shrinking or that transitions to modernity or post-modernity have ever been an impersonal or linear process. Unlike Fraser’s additive model of redistribution and recognition, the historical significance of categorisation and category conflicts is not seen as something new. Power gives moral meaning to how societies configure and reconfigure themselves, and such meaning is undergirded by material relations of violence and cultural support for those who employ it. Intersectional theorising stresses that active struggles over both meaning and resources have always mattered.

Social Theorising as Praxis Patricia Hill Collins has argued that the complexity of intersectional theorising requires an interrogation of both social structures and theorists’ experiences as producers of knowledge, including the ethical question of “what [intersectionality] should be doing, and why it should be doing it” (2019, p.4). In the 1960s and 1970s, this focus on experience was a risky move for women of colour in the US. They denounced the violence experienced outside and within their communities, exposing their vulnerabilities, contradictions, differences, and fears. This risk-taking move also presented an important new claim about how critical social theory works, emphasising its roots in unacknowledged experiences of privilege and in the embodied and emotional— not just intellectual—understanding of lived experience. As Audre Lorde (2007 [1984]) put it: “The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us—the poet—whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free” (p. 38). From this view, theorising whole systems intersectionally became the work of embodied and reflective individuals who occupied particular social positions and experienced a wide array of personal contradictions that generated their insights. It is true that other critical theorists, including Marx himself, insisted that social theory was meaningless if it offered an explanation of inequalities without proposing how to transform them (Cordero 2017). But abstract generalisations around capitalism as a unique force driving history supported a top-down style of doing theoretical work. Intersectional theorists assert that categorical thinking is fundamentally oppressive since the categories into which theory sorts the world manifest the sorter’s power (Espinosa Miñoso 2019). Macro-level systems are simultaneously material and cultural, so intersectional macro-arguments give special weight to the material impacts of the exercise of power in the realm of knowledge; they make categories seem natural and hide the experiences and ways of knowing that fall beyond them (Clarke and McCall 2013). Thus, the goals of transforming society and remedying complex social inequalities demand participatory social theorising as part of a transformative praxis (Collins 2019, Labelle 2020). Collins calls this a “dialogical engagement” that could envision and instil hope for a better world in the future (Collins 2019, p. 12). By centring dialogue and participation, theorising can come from the bottom-up. Intersectionality becomes 107

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an epistemic practice that builds understanding through listening skills, guiding movement actors towards a more complex and resistant imagery of themselves and their goals (Zavella 2020, Taylor, 2022). Further, an intersectional approach to theorising whole systems looks for alternative sources of knowledge from outside US and academic dominance. For example, intersectional theorists from Latin America have pushed for new categories to re-think the economy as dependent on and in relation to non-economic boundaries and hierarchies. As Lorena Cabnal explains, the defence of her “body-territory” is not only an act for recovering the means to make living; it is also about gaining “joy”, “pleasure”, and “liberatory knowledge” to live life with others and in “plenitude” (2010, p. 23). By studying the concrete contradictions that embodied individuals confront in their daily lives, intersectional theorising uses personal narratives as a source of insight into the systems that produce dehumanisation (Williams 1988). Because all viewpoints are partial, engaging in intersectional dialogue poses a key challenge for macro-level theorising about the world as a whole (Walby 2009, Collins 2019). As Sylvia Walby explains, depending on where the observer is situated, each form of domination is simultaneously a specific active process that shapes institutions and a piece of the context for all the other processes. This approach to systems is inherently plural; it embraces the complexity of change as an ongoing feature of social relations. In other words, at the moment that intersectional theorists affirm something about the world, they renounce their conclusion’s closure and permanence. Put differently, social theorising is—to paraphrase the words of valeria flores—writing against ourselves (2010). If this is the case, how can we envision change through an explanation of the co-constitution of social inequalities and at the same time accept that the social world exceeds our explanations? Perhaps the concepts of pluriverse and Buen Vivir (living in plenitude) can capture the social world’s complexities (Red de Feminismos Descoloniales 2014, Millán 2014, Hernández-Castillo 2017, Erpel 2018, Escobar 2018). It is important to mention that, as feminists with a specific position in the West, we are writing from the field of US academia; it is not our intention to elaborate on the notions of pluriverse and Buen Vivir nor to romanticise this cosmovision. Rather, we want to take these concepts as a guide for the social justice project envisioned by intersectional theorists. Pluriverse is a term formulated in Latin America through the struggles of subordinated populations. It centres people’s experiences, the co-existence of all forms of life, and the world’s multi-temporality, because the past is not gone but alive in the memory of ancestors and loved ones. As a world of multiple worlds, this metaphor affirms the importance of creating communal spaces where experience is a source of knowledge and change, and political interventions emerge from collaborative engagement. As Patricia Hill Collins (2019) has emphasised, the process of theorising intersectional change began from situated experience as a source of knowledge and power, and it should sustain a specific ethical commitment not only to social change but to a process of ongoing discovery of what needs to be changed and how. An embodied and emotional, not just intellectual, understanding of lived experience offers a crucial tool for theorising in these terms. Because social theory is also always shaped by social location, engagement in dialogue across diverse communities is key to contesting the power that some groups have in categorising the world. Social movements offer sites that are potentially open to sharing experiential knowledge of oppressions, and they may be most powerful when they do. From this perspective, macro-level social theorising is less about planning a single common future, 108

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and more about having a democratic dialogue about the plurality of possible futures. Such engagement removes the hegemonic limits on imagining justice and opens up the horizon for what is desirable.

Note 1 We are deeply grateful to Helma Lutz and Kathy Davis for their comments on previous drafts of this article. Their comments helped us to improve the chapter in several important ways.

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Maria J. Azocar and Myra Marx Ferree Engels, Friedrich. 1972 [1884]. The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. New York, International Publishers Co. Erpel, Angela (ed). 2018. Mujeres en defensa de territorios. Reflexiones feministas frente al extractivismo. Fundación Heinrich Boll, Oficina Regional Cono Sur. Escobar, A. 2018. Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. Durham, NC, Duke University Press. Espinosa Miñoso, Yuderkys. 2019. “Superando el Análisis Fragmentado de la Dominación: una Revisión Feminista Descolonial de la Perspectiva de la Interseccionalidad.” Pp. 273–293 in En Tiempos de Muerte: Cuerpos, Rebeldías, Resistencias. Xochitl Leyva Solano and Rosalba Icaza (Coord). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales. Federici, Silvia. 2004. Caliban and the Witch. New York, Autonomedia. Ferree, Myra Marx. 2020. “The Crisis of -Masculinity for Gendered Democracies: Before, During and after Trump.” Sociological Forum 35(S1): 898–917. Ferree, Myra Marx. 2021. “Under Different Umbrellas: Intersectionality and Alliances in US Feminist Politics.” European Journal of Politics and Gender 4(2): 199–216. Ferree, Myra Marx and Elaine J. Hall. 1996. “Rethinking Stratification from a Feminist Perspective: Gender, Race and Class in Mainstream Textbooks.” American Sociological Review 61(6): 1–22. flores, valeria. 2010. “Escribir contra sí Misma: una Micro-tecnología de Subjetivación Política.” Pp. 211–230 in Y. Espinosa Miñoso (ed.), Aproximaciones Críticas a las Prácticas Teórico-políticas del Feminismo latinoamericano. En La Frontera. Fraser, Nancy. 2013. Fortunes of Feminism. From State-managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. New York, Verso. Fraser, Nancy. 2017. “Crisis of Care? On the Social-Reproductive Contradictions of Contemporary Capitalism.” Pp. 21–36 in Tithi Bhattacharya (ed.), Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression. London, Pluto Press. Garcia-Del Moral, Paulina and Megan A. Dersnah. 2014. “A Feminist Challenge to the Gendered Politics of the Public/Private Divide: on Due Diligence, Domestic Violence, and Citizenship.” Citizenship Studies 18(6–7): 661–675. Geva, Dorit. 2013. Conscription, Family, and the Modern State: A Comparative Study of France and the United States. New York, Cambridge University Press. Gimenez, Martha. 2019. Marx, Women, and Capitalist Social Reproduction: Marxist-Feminist Essays. Boston, MA, Brill. ­ Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 1992. “From Servitude to Service Work: Historical Continuities in the Racial Division of Paid Reproductive Labor.” Signs 18: 1–43. Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 1999. “The Social Construction and Institutionalization of Gender and Race.” Pp. 3–43 in Myra Marx Ferree, Judith Lorber and Beth B. Hess (eds.), Revisioning Gender. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications. Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 2002. Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped US Citizenship. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Hartmann, Heidi. 1979. “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union.” Capital & Class 3(2): 1–33. Hernández-Castillo. 2017. “Confrontando la Utopía Desarrollista: El Buen Vivir y La Comunalidad en las Luchas de las Mujeres Indígenas.” Pp. 26–43 in Soledad Varea y Sofía Zaragocín (comp), Feminismo y Buen Vivir: Utopías Decoloniales. Ecuador, Pydlos Ediciones -Universidad de Cuenca. Hernández Reyes, Castriela. 2019. “Black Women’s Struggles against Extractivism, Land Dispossession, and Marginalization in Colombia.” Latin American Perspectives 46(2): 217–234. hooks, bell. 1984. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. London, Pluto Press. Ken, Ivy and Allison Helmuth. 2021. “Not Additive, Not Defined: Mutual Constitution in Feminist Intersectional Studies.” Feminist Theory 22(4): 575–604. Korteweg, Anna and Gökçe Yurdakul. 2014. The Headscarf Debates: Conflicts of National Belonging. Palo Alto, CA, Stanford University Press. Labelle, Alexie. 2020. “Bringing Epistemology into Intersectional Methodology.” European Journal of Politics and Gender 3(3): 409–426. Lorde, Audre. 2007 [1984]. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, CA, Crossing Press. Lozano Lerma, Betty Ruth. 2019. “Asesinato de Mujeres y Acumulación Global. El Caso del Bello Puerto del Mar, mi Buenaventura.” Pp. 47–63 in En Tiempos de Muerte: Cuerpos, Rebeldías,


Intersectionality at the Macro-Level: Social Theory as Practice Resistencias. Xochitl Leyva Solano and Rosalba Icaza (Coord). Buenos Aires, Argentina, Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales. Lugones, Maria. 2007. “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System” Hypatia 22(1): 186–209. Marx, Karl. 1993 [1894]. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume 3. London, Penguin Classics. McClintock, Anne. 1995. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York, Routledge. Millán, Márgara. 2014. “Más Allá del Feminismo, a Manera de Introducción.” Pp. 9–14 in M. Millán (ed)., Más Allá del Feminismo: Caminos para Andar. México, D. F., Red de Feminismos Descoloniales. Moore, Mignon R. 2010. “Articulating a Politics of (Multiple) Identities: LGBT Sexuality and Inclusion in Black Community Life.” DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race 7(2): 315–334. O’Connor, James. 2002 [1973]. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers. Offe, Claus. 1975. “The Capitalist State and the Problem of Policy Formation.” Pp. 125–144 in Leon Lindberg (ed.), Stress and Contradiction in Contemporary Capitalism. Lexington, D.C. Heath. Parreñas, Rhacel. 2001. Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Peterson, V. Spike. 2010. “Informalization, Inequalities and Global Insecurities.” International ­Studies Review 12(2): 244–270. Peterson, V. Spike. 2020. “Family Matters in Racial Logics: Tracing Intimacies, Inequalities, and ­Ideologies.” Review of International Studies 46(2): 177–196. Pulido, Laura. 2016. “Flint, Environmental Racism, and Racial Capitalism.” Capitalism Nature ­Socialism 27(3): 1–16. 10.1080/10455752.2016.1213013 Red de Feminismos Descoloniales. 2014. “Descolonizando nuestros Feminismos, Abriendo la Mirada.” Pp. 319–327 in M. Millán (ed)., Más Allá del Feminismo: Caminos para Andar. México, D. F., Red de Feminismos Descoloniales. Robinson, Cedric J. 2000 [1983]. Black Marxism, Revised and Updated Third Edition: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press. Rollins, Judith. 1984. Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers. Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press. Roth, Julia. 2013. “Entangled Inequalities as Intersectionalities: Towards an Epistemic Sensibilization.” Working Paper Series No. 43, Berlin: Research Network on Interdependent Inequalities in Latin America. Sargent, Lydia (ed). 1981. Women and Revolution: A Discussion of the Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism (Vol. 66). Montreal, Quebec, Black Rose Books. Scott, Joan W. 1986. “Gender: A useful category of historical analysis.” The American Historical Review 91 (5): 1053–1075. Segato, Laura Rita. 2006. La Escritura en el Cuerpo de las Mujeres Asesinadas en Ciudad Juárez. Territorio, Soberanía y Crímenes de Segundo Estado. Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, ­México DF. Stoler, A.L. 1995. Race and the Education of Desire. Durham, NC, Duke University Press. Stoler, A.L. 2002. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. Berkeley, University of California Press. Taylor, Liza, 2022. Feminism in Coalition: Thinking with US Women of Color Feminism. Durham, Duke University Press. Thornton, A. 2001. “The Developmental Paradigm: Reading History Sideways, and Family Change.” Demography 38(4): 449–465. Trotter, LaTonya J. 2020. More Than Medicine: Nurse Practitioners and the Problems They Solve for Patients, Health Care Organizations, and the State. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press. Ulloa, Astrid. 2016. “Feminismos Territoriales en América Latina: Defensas de la Vida Frente a los Extractivismos.” Nómadas 45: 123–139. Verloo, Mieke, and David Paternotte. 2018. “The Feminist Project under Threat in Europe.” Politics and Governance 6(3): 1–5.


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The feminist theoretical concept known as intersectionality has shifted, challenged, and questioned positionality, power, and narrowly defined identity categories. This concept can reveal the terrain of systemic forms of oppression that disproportionately impacts women around the world and underscores which communities, lived experiences, and other factors are missing in social and political analyses. Engagement with radical feminist critiques from non-US locations, such as Latin America, can alter intersectionality and be especially instructive to contextualise the extent of transnational power emanating from the United States. Further, the term “intersectionality” has been translated in other languages and travelled online through social media (Brown et al., 2017), which speaks to its potential global reach. I found translations in Spanish (interseccionalidad) and in Italian (intersezionalità), for example,1 but did not locate an equivalent translation in South Asian or Arabic languages. As intersectionality travels transnationally—as a theory, political project, and framework— scholars have to engage with the added dimension of geopolitics to avoid a narrow reflection of US or Global North experiences, viewpoints, and analyses when it comes to applying intersectionality theory. Thinking about intersectionality in a transnational capacity raises two inter-related questions. First, how can intersectionality grapple with some forms of transnational power that include and transcend the borders of the nation-state? And relatedly, how can intersectionality theory be enriched when considering its transnational reach when it comes to understanding global patriarchy? This chapter explores these two questions as a way to consider the capacity of intersectionality to advance an analysis of transnational power that reveals how inter-connected forms of oppressive conditions are not constrained by nation-state borders. I begin the chapter by explaining the link between intersectionality and transnational power, drawing on the example of the deeply harmful US foreign policy known as the “Mexico City Policy” or the “Global Gag Rule”, which restricts access to family planning outside of the United States. In June 2022, the US Supreme Court rolled back 50 years of precedent in respecting privacy rights with regards to women’s health and effectively overturned Roe versus Wade, the landmark legislation which protected reproductive choice in the United States.2 I go on to address the role of geopolitics and intersectionality 113

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by problematising an approach to, or understanding of, intersectionality as bounded by the nation-state—because a global feminist analysis of power then becomes overlooked. By way of example, I discuss the Chilean-inspired feminist anthem, “Un Violador en Tu Camino” or “A Rapist in Your Path”, performed by a collective called Las Tesis that draws on the work of Latin American feminist theorist Rita Segato. I conclude the chapter by arguing intersectionality can offer a robust analysis of the multiple dimensions of power when situated in a relational and transnational capacity, meaning that intersectionality theory is attentive to both the socio-political context of analysis and vacillates between specificity and generalisability.

Linking Intersectionality, the Transnational, and Power Intersectionality enriches an understanding of social hierarchies, divisions, inequalities, and injustices. It is meant to be comprehensive enough to be an inclusive framework about a range of lived experiences, and at the same time, not be so opaque that it loses its political resonance in strengthening the path for transformative social change. I use the term path intentionally in that intersectionality is and should be viewed as one avenue towards social change, but not the only one. Intersectionality cannot capture every lived experience, every flaw, and every problem. Expecting that of any social theory is unreasonable. I approach intersectionality as a theoretical analysis of power, with an understanding that power in and of itself is a complex phenomenon. Even though multiple forms and exertions of power exist in place and throughout time, intersectionality offers a way in which to understand power’s breadth and capacity to harm. Intersectionality can be described as both reflecting lived experiences based on overlapping social categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, and so forth as well as inter-connected systems working in tandem to enact harm and disenfranchisement. These systems should not be siloed as they rely on each other to secure domination. For example, a certain demographic of the population benefits from a judicial system based on their socio-economic class, education, and other privileges, while others are perpetually targeted from that same system, and have encountered additional systems to enact control. Consider the inter-connection of incarceration systems (prisons, detention centres) that rely on the judicial courts and police units to keep the prison population disproportionately high for marginalised communities, a systemic problem across the globe. The concept of intersectionality should be unbounded by the nation because even though gender-based violence, lack of financial security, patriarchal laws, and sexual harassment, for example, exist everywhere, they are not experienced in the same way. Intersectionality can clarify these nuances. For intersectionality to be legible transnationally, it should be flexible or nimble enough to realise that the socio-political context matters. Therefore, a refugee’s plight for seeking asylum that stems from ethnic or racial persecution in one country may be unlike a similarly motivated persecution experienced in a different national context. In other words, ethnic or racial persecution is not the same across national or regional contexts. People are targeted for a variety of reasons that may seem the same, but they are experienced differently across contexts (Yuval-Davis, 2006). Accounting for socio-political context requires an unsettling of social categories—race, gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality, for example—that can be viewed too often as stagnant across place. This stagnation may stem from not actually having an awareness that positionality shifts across place and time. By acknowledging distinctions, intersectionality 114

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can travel in a meaningful way in different socio-political and linguistic contexts. Therefore, analysing the causes of gender-based violence, for instance, requires an intersectionality approach that is malleable, because even though the factors may be the same (and thus, transnational), the experience or impact of gender-based violence won’t be. In the next section, to further elaborate on the link of intersectionality and transnational power, I discuss a specific US foreign policy that targets the reproductive autonomy of women—the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “Global Gag Rule”. This policy is an exertion of US power that is not bounded by national borders. The policy represents the long-term goals of restricting abortion access in the United States, which the conservative movement successfully accomplished in June 2022, by making significant advancements globally. An intersectionality analysis of this particular US foreign policy deepens an understanding of how a contentious domestic issue regarding abortion rights and access carries over to other countries through the exertion of US power transnationally.

The Global Gag Rule: The Case of US Federal Funds and Abortion Announced by US president Ronald Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City Policy prevents nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), such as rural-based health clinics throughout Latin America and the African continent, from performing, advocating, or in any way speaking about abortion if they want to acquire US federal funds (CBS News, 2017). It effectively gags free speech in other countries, and forcibly advances or imposes a US right-wing ideological agenda on people outside of the United States. The policy establishes conditions under which to receive US foreign aid that are not in the best interest of the respective population: on the contrary, the strict regulations imposed deliberately harm women, many of whom do not have reliable access to birth control methods and rely on NGOs for healthcare. The policy gets overturned with Democratic presidents and reinstated with Republican ones. How can intersectionality offer an analysis of power with regards to this US foreign policy and its propensity to harm? First, an intersectionality analysis clarifies that even though all women can be impacted by restrictive abortion regulations, marginalised women would be the most adversely affected if they are poor or low-income, of a certain demographic based on race, ethnicity, and age. The lack of access for some women to quality reproductive healthcare is disproportionately experienced by those marginalised in the broader society based on the intersecting dynamics of social categories (race, ethnicity, class, and gender). Even though right-wing attacks on reproductive health have gained considerable traction in the past few years in the United States, the inroads to restrict reproductive healthcare access outside the United States have been ongoing. Too many economically vulnerable countries rely on US foreign aid and are willing to comply with US regulations even if they are harmful. Yet even in different national contexts, there are similar factors contributing to societal marginalisation that exacerbate a lack of access to reproductive autonomy. Second, an intersectionality analysis illustrates how intertwined systems disproportionately impact the most marginalised within a population who are not able to directly intervene in decisions that affect their lives. In this case, the two intertwined systems are religious (in that conservative religious ideology endorses a zero-sum view of abortion) and political (in that elected government officials use their power to advance a restrictive abortion policy that impacts people they do not even politically represent). Preventing access to abortion is not a national security issue, wherein US elected officials would want to advance a particular policy. This particular debate about abortion and women’s reproductive 115

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health is completely ideological. These two powerful systems or sectors—the religious and the political—work together in unison to realise their desired objective: preventing women from having any access or information about abortion, regardless of reasons for the enquiry, whether in the United States or not. Hence, the link between intersectionality and transnational power is about what becomes apparent; namely, that intersecting social categories reveal disproportionate harm that is maintained by inter-connected systems throughout the world. One way in which to understand this context is by acknowledging that US power does not stop at its national borders; it moulds into different configurations that affect marginalised global communities. The next section discusses the Chilean feminist artist collective called Las Tesis (translated to The Thesis) as an example of intersectionality that has transnational resonance. Las Tesis are the creators of a powerful public performance called “Un Violador En tu Camino” or “A Rapist in Your Path”, which captured US media attention when it was performed in New York City on January 10, 2020, outside of the trial for disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein (Garcia, 2020). The global impact of the anti-rape or anti-violence against women feminist performance by Las Tesis, can be noted in the over 50 countries (Minutaglio, 2020) this anthem has been performed. This performance reflects a radical feminist critique of institutions that engage or are complicit in disproportionately harming women. These feminist artists and activists (or “artivists”) powerfully display in a public performance the intersecting systems that lead to widespread harm for women who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence for generations. What parallel institutions exist across place and space that harm women as reflected in this performance? In what ways do those institutions collaborate to disproportionally target women?

Las Tesis: Intersectionality in Feminist Public Performance The performance by Las Tesis can be described as consisting of three core parts: denouncing patriarchy, condemning violence, and naming the perpetrators. The performance takes place in a large public setting, such as a central plaza in a city’s downtown area, with dozens, perhaps even hundreds in some cases, of women wearing blindfolds, and typically black or red clothes. The performers start to move in unison a few seconds after hearing a whistle. A drumbeat type sound guides the pace of their movements and they begin by identifying patriarchy as being their judge that impacts them from the time of their birth. As they swing from right to left repeating the same refrains twice and in unison, they assert that patriarchy punishes women through violence that they inevitably experience and can be unseen or unknown as well as all too familiar. The performers then transition to a crouching or squatting position, with hands behind their heads, calling out the forms of systemic violence that exists, from feminicide to impunity for the perpetrators of violence, to disappearances, to rape. They then move their arms up and down, bending at their elbows in unison, denouncing the patriarchal tropes that blame women—from what they were wearing, to what they were doing, to the place where they were at the time. They state over and again that the fault does not lie with the victims. In the third section, the performers stand upright, raising their left arm, pointing their index finger and moving their arm overhead as well, to identify the real perpetrators of gender-based violence—patriarchy, violence, police, judges, the system, and the president. Together they form the oppressive state and are the culmination of the “macho rapist”. In the final section, performers cup


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their left hand around their mouth telling innocent girls to sleep well and not worry about the perpetrator because their sweet dreams that make them smile will watch over the police state. They close the performance by repeatedly stating, with their index fingers pointing in front of them, “the rapist is you”. As members of Las Tesis contend, “the social change we need has a feminist perspective” (Carrasco and Benavente, 2020, p. 342)3 and feminist demands must be transversal and intersect with other social demands. The power of the collective performance by Las Tesis is precisely to signal the universality of the domination of women’s bodies, and that this control is upheld by the “masculine mandate” (discussed below), a concept introduced by Latin American anthropologist Rita Segato of Argentina. That domination is best understood through an intersectionality analysis that acknowledges the transversal and differentiation that is part of experiencing structural violence vis-à-vis institutions and laws (see Yuval-Davis, 2006). Latin American feminist thought or philosophy undergirds the political meaning of Las Tesis’ performance, who themselves have been influenced by the work of Segato. For Segato, the concept of a “masculinity mandate” is universally violent and embodies power as it corresponds to “the question of gender—the patriarchal order—[which] is the cornerstone and center of gravity for all forms of power” (Segato, 2018, p. 198). Therefore, upholding the “patriarchal order” requires an “obedience to masculine rule”, and this allegiance enshrines the “masculine mandate” as “the first pedagogy of power” (Segato, 2018, p. 199). This power pedagogy of oppression underscores that the “masculine mandate” necessitates concealment as a way to individualise violence. A member of Las Tesis stated in an interview that the power of their collective prevents isolation, which is prevalent in cases of gender-based violence, and is a reflection of their own thinking as a political artistic group. They state, “society makes [gender-based violence] be seen as an individual problem of one or the other, that make us keep the secret forever, and that now [we know it] is a social problem without a doubt, is what Rita Segato raises” (Carrasco and Benavente, 2020, p. 340).4 The collective performance of Las Tesis that personifies Segato’s work is pedagogical, which may be in part why viewing it resonated so viscerally for global audiences. These artists are trying to make evident through artistic performance what so many women around the world already experience—impunity from gender-based violence. Their performance in the United States outside of Weinstein’s trial sends an important message—that Weinstein did not engage in predatory behaviour alone or as merely a “bad individual”, but that his violence was upheld and emboldened by a web of complicity that is transcendental as it crosses structures, institutions, and laws. Each country in which this performance has happened likely has their own version of Harvey Weinstein. This web of complicity is why the “masculine mandate” is global and upheld through violence and the patriarchal targeting of women’s bodies. In addition to being a deeply divided country economically, Chile has a complicated legacy with the nearly two-decade military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1974–1990), which resulted in forced disappearances, sexual violence, and trauma. Powerful men perpetrated violence and terror in Chile in which a lack of accountability was the norm.5 The Chilean protests of 2019 and 2020 that engulfed the country indicate that the trauma of the Pinochet dictatorship remains ever present. Las Tesis garnered attention


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during this time too and have been targeted by the Chilean police state as a result of their activism during those protests. Las Tesis has been charged with crimes of incitement during the 2019–2020 uprisings, revealing a deep-seated insecurity by the state when shamed for its widespread corruption (El Comercio, 2020). As a feminist group, they are viewed as a threat to the impunity of state power. Contending that “masculinity is structured like a corporation”, Segato provocatively asserts this point because of the entrenchment of “loyalty” and “intern[al] hierarch[y]” within masculinised institutions (Segato, 2018, p. 203). In that regard, police units, like the carabineros in Chile or police departments throughout the United States, are similar to corporations; and their structure contributes to the impunity of officers or involves their complicity in gender-based violence. And yet, looking to the law (which Segato refers to as the “fantasy of law”) as a form of protection against gender-based violence is in complete tension with the idea that laws are part of the “masculine mandate”. Through the domination of women’s bodies—physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual—the “masculine mandate” thrives and perseveres. The many powerful verses of “Un Violador en tu Camino”6 point to the fact that the “violator” is not about an individual per se, but about all the structures and institutions that contribute to the domination or violation in one’s path. That patriarchal control as contextualised through intersectionality links to the differential impact of structures and institutions on women within a social hierarchy. The refrain “this oppressive state is a macho rapist” is necessary to counter what Segato refers to as “the fatal mistake of faith in the state” (Segato, 2018, p. 206). A misguided belief that laws and courts will protect women if they would only disclose what happened contributes to “the fantasy of the state” (Segato, 2018, p. 205). A display of feminist solidarity like the one Las Tesis exhibited for the victims of Harvey Weinstein can resonate across borders—and therein is its power. Many US audiences, women in particular, responded viscerally to their performance in which misogyny, complicity, corruption, as well as judicial systems that harm women, are called out and denounced. The egregious case against Weinstein revealed an infrastructure of complicity that implicated business partners, to the Hollywood industry, to prosecutors. Similarly, this infrastructure of complicity shows itself in the impunity of the Chilean police and military in connection to the Pinochet regime, and even in the protests of 2019 and 2020. Two insights that draw on intersectionality should be gleaned by this feminist performance in relation to Segato’s work: (1) that individual patriarchal acts of violence are ongoing due to an infrastructure of complicit institutions that disproportionately harm women, but not in the same way; and (2) that the “masculine mandate” conceals patriarchal violence, rendering women as intimately and differently exposed to harm even if publicly unseen. Intersectionality can provide much needed analytical nuance regarding the global domination of women’s bodies that this powerful performance by Las Tesis was able to capture artistically. The global response to their performance is another reminder that the “patriarchal order” is indeed transnational.

Conclusion Intersectionality can provide an understanding about the dimensions of power (i.e., real world impact) in a relational and transnational way when it advances a grounded analysis of power that is linked to inter-connected structures, institutions, and laws (Falcón, 2016). 118

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In order to situate the prevalence and harm caused by dominant power, noting the relational context is imperative to avoid “paper[ing] over global asymmetries” in connection to power (Shohat, 1998, p. 38). From the two cases discussed here—The Mexico City Policy and the public performance by Las Tesis—there is a simultaneous universal or transversal aspect alongside a specificity. First, for the Mexico City Policy, the universal or transversal aspect is about controlling women’s reproductive autonomy, which politically plays out differently in the United States in comparison to globally. Intersectionality can underscore the varied impact when it comes to the communities most harmed by the targeting of reproductive autonomy. The Mexico City Policy expedites the restriction to abortion information and services by directly tying that control to US foreign aid, which many economically impoverished countries depend on for providing overall health services. For US conservative politicians who endorse the Mexico City Policy, transnational power lies in the intent of this US foreign policy to control women’s reproductive health outside of US borders in a way that impacts marginalised women from countries struggling economically. That objective mirrors the long-term goals of those same US conservative lawmakers to dismantle access to abortion in the United States. In the United States, the undermining of reproductive freedom has been happening since 1973 following the Supreme Court ruling known as Roe versus Wade. Since this time, opponents of reproductive autonomy have passed numerous pieces of legislation state by state that make it more difficult to access information and services pertaining to abortion. Culminating in the most tangible threat to reproductive choice in the United States in the Dobbs versus Jackson case, the US Supreme Court overturned its own precedent in 2022, entirely dismantling reproductive choice in the United States. Second, the public feminist performance by Las Tesis speaks to the universal or transversal aspect regarding the epidemic of gender-based violence, despite decades of global feminist work in countering this phenomenon. Their performance makes connections across the spectrum of dominant power complicit in gender-based violence all the more relevant and apparent. Further, the faith put in legal systems to offer protection for women is misplaced as those systems perpetually fail women. As Segato describes it, the “fantasy of law” has never protected women in a meaningful or lasting way. The result of this misguided faith is that the prevalence of gender-based violence remains a global reality despite occasional convictions. The performance by Las Tesis has transnational resonance for a reason, most clearly noted in the visceral global reception. Some of the specificity that is captured in their song has to do with political context. For example, the web of institutional complicity resulting from the Chilean dictatorship would differ for countries like the United States or Canada, for instance. Transnational power is altered and lies in the synchronous performance and its messaging that embodies an intersectionality analysis through identifying the various interlocking complicit systems and institutions that contribute to gender-based violence. Intersectionality as a transversal and travelling concept can discern the structure of patriarchal domination and transnational power, which is not universally felt or experienced. Its ability to be transversal is a reflection of women’s shared experiences with global patriarchy even though patriarchal power is deployed differentially. Accordingly, intersectionality can be a theory for understanding transnational power that is experienced at the local/community level. US-based feminists in particular should turn to a broader structural and institutional analysis as embodied by feminist thinkers like Rita Segato and artists like Las Tesis. In doing so, a more radical and nuanced critique of transnational power can emerge that enriches intersectionality theory. 119

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Notes 1 I located the term intersectionality translated In Haitian Creole as entèseksyonèl, in a thesis from the University of Montreal about Haitian immigrants in Quebec, Canada. See Myrlande, J-P (2014). Les perceptions de la sexualité et les relations de couple de femmes haïtiennes immigrantes au Québec: pour une exploration des rapports hommes femmes en Haïti. [Master’s thesis], Université de Montréal. Papyrus: Institutional Repository at handle/1866/10606. 2 The US Supreme Court decision can be read in its entirety here: opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf. For a brief overview of the impact of this decision on US women, wherein now women will have different rights depending on their state of residence, see “What Does the End of Roe Mean? Key Questions and Answers” by Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz in the New York Times: abortion-united-states-roe-wade.html (published 2022, May 3and updated on June 27, 2022). 3 During the interview conducted in Spanish, the member said, “El cambio social que necesitamos tiene una perspectiva feminista…”. Quotation translated by the author. 4 During the interview conducted in Spanish, the member said, “…la sociedad hace que se vea como un problema individual de una o une, que hacía guardar el secreto para siempre y que ahora es un problema social sin lugar a duda, es lo que plantea Rita Segato”. Quotation translated by the author. 5 When Pinochet was arrested on October 16, 1998, renewed hope emerged that he would be held accountable though the court system. Even though he died in 2006 before a trial took place, his arrest meant that state immunity could be surmountable and established an international human rights precedent (see Diaz-Cerda, 2018). 6 To read the lyrics in Spanish and English and view video instructions on how to perform the anthem, go to

References Brown, M., Ray, R., Summers, E., & Fraistat, N. (2017). “#SayHerName: a case study of intersectional social media activism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(11), 1831–1846, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1334934. Carrasco, V. E., & Benavente, A. M. (2020, December). “La Performance Colectiva que Masificó, a nivel munidal, la tesis de Rita Segato en torno al ‘mandato de violación.’” Revista Normadías 29, 331–343. “Colectivo Las Tesis es demandado por incitar a la violencia contra la Policía chilena” (2020, January 17). El Comercio. Retrieved July 3, 2021 from Diaz-Cerda, V. (2018, October 15). “General Pinochet arrest: 20 years on, here’s how it changed global justice.” The Conversation. Retrieved July 3, 2021 from general-pinochet-arrest-20-years-on-heres-how-it-changed-global-justice-104806. Falcón, S. (2016). Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism Inside the United Nations. University of Washington Press. Garcia, M. (2020, January 10). “‘The Rapist Is YOU’: Feminists Revolt Outside Harvey ­Weinstein’s Trial.” Vice. Retrieved July 3, 2021 from the-rapist-is-you-feminists-revolt-outside-harvey-weinsteins-trial. Miller, C., & M. Sanger-Katz (2022, May 3 with update on 2022, June 27), “What Does the End of Roe Mean? Key Questions and Answers.” New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2022 from Minutaglio, R. (2020, February 13). “How a Chilean Chant Became the World’s Most Powerful Feminist Anthem.” Elle. Segato, R. L. (2018). “A manifesto in four themes.” Translated by Ramsey McGlazer. Critical Times 1(1), 198–211.


Intersectionality, Global Patriarchy, and the Feminist Performance Shohat, E. (1998). “Introduction.” In E. Shohat (Ed.), Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (pp. 1–63). MIT Press. U.S. Supreme Court, “Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.” Retrieved September 15, 2022 from “What Is the Mexico City Policy?” (2017, January 23). CBS News. Retrieved July 3, 2021 from Yuval-Davis, N. (2006). “Intersectionality and feminist politics.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3), 193–209, DOI: 10.1177/1350506806065752.



Debates and Critiques

10 MUTED TONGUES, DISAPPEARING ACTS, AND DISREMEMBERED SUBJECTS Intersectionality and Black Feminist Intellectual History Vivian M. May Intersectionality, forged in and shaped by Black and women of colour feminist knowledges, continues to have substantive impact on social, political, and theoretical landscapes, including in policy, law, politics, and across academe. Intersectional understandings of coalitional resistance and justice also have been a driving force behind broad social movements like #BlackLivesMatter. However, despite its widespread, generative application, I have pause. Why? As a researcher, I treat intersectionality as an approach to power, identity, structure, and liberation politics shaped by Black and women of colour feminist knowledge traditions (i.e., as grounded in these historical trajectories, not as equivalent to all Black feminist and women of colour feminist theories and methods). In much of my work, I examine how Black women’s knowledges can be flattened, silenced, or begin to disappear—even as they are being recovered, taken up, or touted. Looking at patterns across 19th- and 20th-century contexts, some cumulative impacts over time can include ripple effects on future generations of scholars and activists contending with unsaid or unheard ideas and undocumented or forgotten lives. History shows how Black and women of colour feminist bodies of knowledge can become disembodied—detached from their theoretical and political roots, dropped from citation networks, taken out of context. Silencing patterns tied to structural inequalities long confronting Black women’s lives and ideas have not disappeared and impact intersectionality’s reception, today, shaping its uptake (or sidestepping). In this chapter, I explore some of the politics of interpretive, citational, and translational practices surrounding intersectionality and pose questions about how intersectionality literatures, especially foundational texts written primarily by Black and women of colour feminists, are being engaged with (or not). Reading practices and citation networks can be sites where wilful forgetting, erasure, disembodiment, and decontextualisation can play out—leaving intersectionality free-floating, decoupled from its history and, perhaps, its history implied as not worth knowing. However, I also suggest that repeating such historical patterns isn’t predetermined: textual engagement can happen differently. 125

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Intersectionality scholars/practitioners can shift how they work with and from works by Black and women of colour feminist authors, by using coalitional citation practices and by reading seemingly opposed arguments in tandem.

Historical Contexts and Influences To peel back some of my thinking, I begin by discussing my work on Anna Julia Cooper (c1858–1964), an early Black feminist scholar, educator, and activist. I spent several decades unpacking Cooper’s contributions to multi-pronged thinking about lived identities and structures of power. In addition to how she anticipated an intersectional approach, her musings on the politics of voice (and silence) and on the reception (and dismissal) of Black women’s ideas impact the things I attend to, questions I ask, and concerns I bring forth in this chapter. In my earlier work, I focussed primarily on rendering visible to today’s readers the breadth and continued relevance of Cooper’s ideas. In her 1892 A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, the first book-length Black feminist volume in the US, Cooper executes an intersectional analysis of structural inequality, decries either/or hierarchical thinking, and calls for coalition politics (May 2007, 2012). She was also a renowned educator who put intersectional thinking to work by refusing white supremacist, patriarchal, and classist mindsets in her writing, curriculum, and leadership (as a teacher, school principal, and, later in life, as president of Frelinghuysen University, a college for Black working adults [May 2007, 2008a]). Many years later, Cooper developed an intersectional analysis of class and race, presaging a Black Atlantic comparative framework in her 1925 Sorbonne dissertation (Cooper 2006) on the Haitian and French Revolutions (she was the first Black woman to earn a PhD at the Sorbonne). Cooper read materials on the Age of Revolution against the grain, and unpacked contradictions and gaps in the archive, to highlight coalitions forged among enslaved and free Blacks and to expose how France’s internalised white supremacy and reliance on enslaved labour undermined its egalitarian ideals (May 2007, 2008b). I highlighted why Cooper should be more fully appreciated in intersectionality studies, as well as feminist, literary, philosophical, and historical studies, particularly for how she examines identities simultaneously (race, class, and gender in particular), crosses fields (from folklore and literature to religion and philosophy to sociology and education), and thinks across national boundaries. However, I also began to reflect on the limits of recovery work. Thinking about the politics of the archive more broadly (e.g., in the vein of Stephanie Smallwood [2016] and Brian Connolly and Marisa Fuentes [2016]), I would argue that recovered texts and ideas confront an epistemic twist—akin to the social death of a text, author, or broader tradition: a kind of re-violation, even epistemicide, continues to unfold. If, in the end, writings like Cooper’s, offering early intersectional and transnational analyses, and Black feminist bodies of knowledge more broadly, once re-covered and preserved (if such ideas ever made it into print or were archived/saved in the first place) are still not meaningfully taken up, what does this signify? What issues of power, cognitive authority, and silence’s impact are in play? If works by Black women are not treated as epistemologically, aesthetically, and politically relevant, and if they sit like relics on a shelf, then in some ways they suffer a new kind of forgetting or loss, even while they are being recovered and revered (May 2021a, 2021b, see also Cooper 2017, Dotson 2013). To clarify, I do not discount recovery work: without these resolute, loving, painstaking labours, we would face palpable, incalculable loss—and, for instance, would not have 126

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Cooper’s A Voice from the South at hand. When it comes to disremembered subjects and forgotten texts, recovery is pivotal. However, meaningful engagement with an author and her ideas is also requisite—works by Black and women of colour feminists need to be read, taught, and written about with depth of context. Knowing how ideas crafted by Black and women of colour feminists have been wilfully ignored, and faced irretrievable loss, my concern is that similar dynamics may well be at work with contemporary knowledge practices and intersectionality. When I look at intersectionality’s interpretive landscape, a warning by P. Gabrielle Foreman (2013), scholar of 19th-century Black women’s writings and activisms, comes to mind: without structures of accountability that help produce the constancy and consistency needed to rebuff the creeping and often invisible replication of power, it continues, even when those of us who care deeply about these very issues are at the helm. (p. 313) Thus, in addition to asking, what are our responsibilities to Black women authors and their texts, post-recovery, we must also ask, what are our responsibilities, in the present, to prevent such erasure and stave off the need for recovery in the first place? Structural inequalities shape what is known, studied, kept in print, and archived—and have not disappeared. Intersectionality is in wide circulation and use: it is not (yet) disremembered or in need of recovery. But we risk replicating histories of erasure, dismemory, and disengagement from Black women’s intellectual labours and insights in some of the ways intersectionality is being taken up. What/who is read, studied, cited, and how? What texts are set aside, sidestepped—sometimes even as they are cited, seemingly recognised— a kind of nominal acknowledgment without engagement (a dynamic I note quite often with Kimberlé Crenshaw’s earlier writings, particularly “Demarginalising” [1989] and “Mapping” [1990])? ­ When considering intersectionality’s uptake, we need to examine how contemporary Black feminist scholars of intersectionality are engaged with (or not). Are there signs of “creeping and often invisible replication of power” (Foreman 2013, p. 313)? Are there ways in which (unwittingly, and differently), as scholars, policymakers, and activists, we might be laying the ground for disremembering this work, sowing seeds that will lead to the need for recovery? How we engage with one another’s work certainly can enact closure and violation, but it can also craft openings, margin to margin, signal shared interests yet honour key differences as we journey “alongside” each other (Nash 2019, p. 108). I advocate for developing a “power-accountable” (Bilge 2020, p. 2316) ethos of citation and an intersectional both/and way of reading to combat the dismemory Foreman presages and to ward off the “historical amnesia” raised by Barbara Christian and echoed by Ann duCille (Christian et al 1990, p. 61, in duCille 1994, p. 601). But first, another historical journey is in order, to contextualise why attending to silence, and its normative force, is absolutely essential to intersectional work, past and present.

Why Listening to Voids and Not (A)Voiding History Matters In different registers and genres, Black and women of colour feminist writers have contested a myriad of “silences and disavowals” (Smallwood 2016, p. 127) by which their lives and 127

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stories have been “disappeared” (Dotson 2017, p. 421). Various forms of “studied indifference” (Connolly and Fuentes 2016, p. 110) can render words, ideas, and persons illegible. Many Black women writers have testified to this issue of “enduring inaudibility” (Bilge 2020, p. 2319), but, for me, of course, one “voice” in particular calls forth from history on this issue: Cooper in her 1892 A Voice from the South. Hoping to break through structured ignorance and be heard as a witness, claim her right to testify and receive “an equal hearing at the bar of the nation” (1998, p. 202), Cooper (1988) speaks up, even as she knows that, as a Black woman, she confronts a deep-seated problem: “pathetic misapprehension” (p. ii). From the volume’s first page, Cooper asserts, as one among many “hitherto voiceless” Black women, that her gender-raced analyses of education, freedom, religion, and literature will likely be misunderstood—treated as an “uncomprehended cadenza” or actively “muffled” by many of her readers (1988, pp. i–ii). Barbara Christian (1990) echoed this catch-22 a century later, characterising Black women as a “folk who speak in muted tongues” (p.13), as did Kimberlé Crenshaw (1990), who describes, as core to intersectional work, tackling the problem of writing and speaking as a Black woman from “a location that resists telling” (p. 1242). Nearly two decades later, Crenshaw (2011) pinpointed a related conundrum, that of being heard in a way that erases—“speaking into the void” (p. 228). These oft-repeated concerns raised by Black feminists around voice and silence, (il)legibility, (un)hearability), and (un)knowability point to what sociologist Patricia Hill Collins (1990) describes as Black women’s ongoing “lack of control over … ideological apparatuses” (p. 26): they also highlight what philosopher Kristie Dotson (2017) calls a “Jane Crow” knowledge economy of “disbelief and disavowal” (p. 426). Such power dynamics make being understood (read, studied, cited, treated as having epistemic authority) difficult if impossible. One can hone resistant consciousness, craft different worldviews, cultivate ground for new ideas to grow—but will these Black feminist ideas, and the lives and histories that inform them, be acknowledged, taken seriously, and understood? Scholarship in Black feminist literary studies, which shapes my thinking on intersectionality, shows that questions about what archival gaps, selective reading practices, and singleaxis logics do to Black feminist knowers, and their bodies of work—about the politics of interpretation and witnessing, wilful ignorance, violations and erasures, whether in the archives or in the “quotidiana” of everyday life—are neither new nor “exceptional” (Foreman 2013, p. 308). For instance, as Ann duCille (1994) underscores, [our] complaints are by now old news. Many ears, once sympathetic to ‘the black woman’s plight,’ her ‘double jeopardy,’ her ‘exceptional burdens,’ have been frozen by the many winters of our discontent. Our grievances have begun to be heard only as ‘anti-intellectual identity politics’ and ‘proprietary claims’. (p. 606)1 This broader history and range of concerns about Black women knowers and their texts are relevant to intersectionality as a fundamental part of Black feminist theoretical-political terrains. Furthermore, as a heuristic, intersectionality intervenes in structures of inequality and insists that submerged histories, disremembered subjects, disregarded forms of knowing, and long-forgotten or misinterpreted forms of resistance be acknowledged and remembered— and it does so in ways that have, in great part, been shaped by Black feminist thinkers and 128

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activists. Intersectionality itself thus calls for interpretive, textual, and historical interventions (as part of a wider structural and political intervention)—to refuse wilful ignorance stemming from single-axis thinking, which perpetuates inequality and maintains hierarchy. Power and inequality underlie absences, support studied indifference, and shape structured impossibilities: intersectionality asks who/what is structured out of the logic, written out of the narrative and what these erasures do, to maintain inequality. Thus, whether one looks to early texts like Cooper’s A Voice from the South, or more recent foundational writings like Crenshaw’s “Demarginalising” (1989), one finds a strong emphasis on noting omissions and contesting conditions that structure erasures to maintain inequality. In this vein, I am keen to ask “intersectional” questions of intersectionality’s interpretive terrain so that its core histories and central concerns don’t become structured absences or sites of dismemory. Black feminist bodies of knowledge, historical texts, and earlier voices seem easily set aside—unread, unstudied, dropped from citation networks as if not worth engaging with, treated as if devoid of history, placed “under erasure, outside of tradition” (duCille 1993, p. 147). Intersectionality is rooted in and shaped by the labours and lives of Black and women of colour feminist thinkers and activities. How is this history being (dis)remembered? What might it mean to think about citation and reading practices (with the texts in question broadly defined) as places where we approach such labours as acts of inheritance (Dotson 2013), part of a living intellectual and political history (Cooper 2017)? With these questions in mind, I turn to citation networks as sites where some of these history lessons (and voids) play out.

“Although she has claim, she is not claimed” (Toni Morrison, Beloved): The Politics of Citation Citation can help pass on knowledge, map historical trajectories, acknowledge others’ labours, and build coalitional thinking. However, it also can animate disappearance, delegitimisation, and devaluation. Again, intersectionality draws from and builds on Black and women of colour knowledge production: but, in current literatures, research and policy applications, and sites of activism, how are these contexts, authors, and texts accounted for? What does it mean if Black feminist/women of colour scholars’ ideas are not engaged with or cited—even when they ‘have claim’? Is this intellectual tradition, and the labours and contributions made by Black and women of colour thinkers, acknowledged? How? Are the ideas, the “symbolic wealth”, taken or transmogrified via a “translational” sleight of hand (duCille 1994, p. 616)? What, asks duCille, are a text’s “principal referents”? And, in terms of method, argument, and syntax, does the writer (and her text) “foster appropriation”, moving ideas across “a kind of colour line”, or, instead, engage in recognition? (p. 619). Recent citation network analyses of intersectionality research should make us concerned. As these studies document, foundational intersectionality writers/texts often do not merit a passing citation (much less meaningful engagement) in contemporary intersectionality research. Key concepts and earlier texts simply are not there. Bonnie Moradi et al (2020) suggest “the picture that the citation network paints about the genealogy of intersectionality scholarship” is one of increasing “(in)visibility of women of colour’s foundational ideas and activist work”, particularly since “citation patterns also revealed lower citations to earlier activist-scholar work (1980s and before)” (pp. 162–163). 129

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The problem is that silences have a multiplier effect: they ripple forward and have normative force (May 2021b). Excluded perspectives become structured impossibilities and naturalised omissions—absences. Absences are in a sense taught, passed down or carried forward. As Moradi et al (2020) underscore, the issue with some of the foundational activist-scholars in our analysis is not that citations to their work declined over time but that they were rarely cited at all over time. These omissions obscure the intellectual labour and origins of intersectionality and are often carried forward as the concept of intersectionality is taken up in increasingly broader domains. (p. 163; italics added) We should listen to Crenshaw (2011), riffing on her earlier “Demarginalising” (1989), who points to ongoing structural erasure and remarks on a journey full circle, whereby “re-marginalising” Black women in intersectionality’s name seems de rigeur. Crenshaw observes, “There is a sense that efforts to repackage intersectionality for universal consumption require a re-marginalising of black women” (p. 224). In the face of such enforced forgetfulness, Foreman (2013) issues a call to be “diligent, strategic, and affirmative in the face of the ways privilege silently displaces others as it reproduces itself with increasing frequency and with near fractal-like repetition” (p. 313). I suggest citation is one place where some “diligent, strategic, and affirmative” work must occur, in great part because citation plays important epistemological, pedagogical, and political roles in intersectionality’s history, offering “a way to mark collectivity, delineate historical precedence, and claim legacies of struggle” (May 2015, p. 55). For instance, the Combahee River Collective selected their name to evoke a genealogy of collective and coalitional activism (referencing Harriet Tubman’s coalition-building during the Civil War to free more than 750 enslaved people on the Combahee River via a military campaign and grassroots action Tubman helped lead) and to invite others to learn about this near-forgotten past. As Barbara Smith (in Harris 1999) explains, People looked at their conditions and they fought back, they took great risks to change their situation; and for us to call ourselves the Combahee River Collective, that was an educational [tool] both for ourselves and for anybody who asked, ‘So what does that mean. I never heard of that?’ It was a way of talking about ourselves being on a continuum of…Black women’s struggle. (p. 10) In the Collective’s statement (1983), they also reference many other historical antecedents for contemporary writers and activists to turn to, including Sojourner Truth, Frances Harper, Ida B. Wells (Barnett), and Mary Church Terrell (p. 211). In a similar vein, it’s important for contemporary intersectionality scholars and activists to think with intentionality about how to acknowledge (even if not necessarily adhering to) the political activism and analytical wisdom of those who came before. Citation offers room for intergenerational, interdisciplinary, and transnational dialogue: pedagogical and political, it builds solidarity and honours the work (and words) of earlier thinkers. As a form of situated knowing, citation locates ideas in wider communities, keeping multiple histories, genres, and writers in sight by how one cites—and brings other voices forward. 130

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This is why Bilge (2020) argues, whether one opts for a shorter genealogy starting with Crenshaw or a longer one that goes back to the nineteenth century figures of Black feminist thought such as Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, etc., or an intermediate one taking the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s with Combahee River Collective as a water-shed moment…, one fact remains: intersectionality as thought and practice is the fruit of the labour of racialised women. (pp. 2309–2310) Similarly, Moradi et al (2020) insist, Echoing Cite Black Women’s (n.d.) guiding principles, [our] present findings [from examining intersectionality citation networks] underscore the need for scholars to learn about, acknowledge, and engage in an intentional practice of citing the work of women of colour who contributed to the foundational ideas for intersectional analysis and praxis. (p. 163)

Crafting Textual Solidarities Mapping intellectual genealogies and inviting solidarity, via citation, can occur in places beyond footnotes and bibliographies, including the use of what Foreman (2013) describes as “riffs”, “calls”, and “responses”. Such techniques show up consistently across genres of Black feminist and women of colour theorising over time. Lists frequently are included in Black feminist writings, for instance—offering a combination of praise song, history lesson, study guide, and dialogue, creating space for differences to emerge and continuities to be acknowledged. In this vein, in 1892, Cooper (1988) decried the problem of erasing women from history. Referencing a long line of women barely remembered, including Sappho, Ruth, and the Amazons (pp. 48–49), Cooper anticipates historical amnesia will impact her and other Black women pursuing women’s rights and civil rights (including Frances Watkins Harper, Sojourner Truth, Charlotte Grimke, and Hallie Quinn Brown) (pp. 140–42). Examples of crafting collectivity and tracing historical genealogies abound. Claudia Jones, in 1951, invokes Tubman to highlight a long history of Black women contesting capitalism’s exploits. She uses this framework, grounded in a race-gender-class analytic, to reject class-primary Marxist models and, simultaneously, debunk androcentric notions of Blackness and Black liberation (see Davies 2008, p. 152, Weigand 2002, p. 186). In “Demarginalising”, Crenshaw (1989) looks back to Sojourner Truth in the 19th century when analysing 20th-century legal cases: she calls for Truth not simply to be cited, but for her 1851 speech to be read in context to understand the fullness of Truth’s “rebuttal” to the cult of True Womanhood and her call for white women to divest from white supremacy in their fight against patriarchy (pp. 153–154). Crenshaw also weaves in personal narrative and draws from lived experience as worthy precedents (and forms of rebuttal) to cite in a law publication (even as the law, itself, marks her, as a Black woman, as invisible, illegible, impossible—and historically, as a non-person). Longer textual interventions, inserting reading lists or history lessons, are also common. duCille, for example, gives an extensive list of names/texts (literary and analytical, fictional 131

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and philosophical, US-based and transnational) as must-reads she expects any scholar worth their salt to familiarise themselves with, rather than simply “gambol unabashed” (Foreman 2013, p. 309) on the grounds of Black women’s literature without sufficient knowledge, training, care, or context. duCille (1994) writes, While I am usually suspicious of efforts to define benchmarks and signposts, there are nevertheless a number of important essays, anthologies, and monographs that I think can be rightly claimed as the founding texts of contemporary black feminist studies. Toni Cade Bambara’s anthology The Black Woman (1970), for example—which showcased the prose and poetry of writers such as Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Paule Marshall, Alice Walker, and Sherley Anne Williams—stands as a pivotal text along with critical essays and literary, historical, and sociological studies by Barbara Smith, Barbara Christian, Frances Beal, Joyce Ladner, Jeanne Noble, Darlene Clark Hine, Angela Davis, Frances Foster, Filomina Chioma Steady, Sharon Harley and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, and Mary Helen Washington. (pp. 594–595) Lest duCille’s approach seem unnecessary today, Crenshaw (2011) asks us to recognise how quickly intersectionality, cleaved from its contexts in Black feminist theorising and Critical Race Theory in law, turns into an “empty suit” (pp. 231–232). Crenshaw (2014) also argues, “although intersectionality was coined to counter the disembodiment of Black women from law, the challenge today is to resist the disembodiment of Black women from intersectionality itself” (np, emphasis added). Likewise, Delia Aguilar (2012) notes that while intersectionality was “honed in the intensity of revolutionary struggle by womenof-colour organisations”, this history is often elided (np). To this point, the Santa Cruz Feminist of Colour Collective (2014) asserts, “Delinking the method of analysis from its genealogies and context of production contributes to the ongoing erasure of subaltern histories and praxis” (p. 33). Moradi et al (2020) thus call for an intervention: the “pattern of omitting women of colour’s intellectual work and the decoupling of intersectionality from its social justice aims warrants specific redress because it exists in and reinforces the broader erasure and marginalisation of women of colour across sociopolitical contexts” (p. 163). Tempest Henning (2020) agrees citational redress is necessary since omission constitutes a form of “racial methodological micro-aggression” (p. 251). Henning also urges more: I am all for citing Black women and other non-white women. Keep doing it. But it is salient to not only cite us, but also read us. I mean really read our work. Don’t just read the work that everyone is citing…. Read who Crenshaw cited. Read our blogs, pamphlets, tweets—not everything that we write of value is published within academically bona fide settings. (p. 266) In this section I explored citation as a site of exclusion and structured forgetting, but also as a possible form of redress, history lesson, coalitional strategy, and pedagogy. Next, I turn to reading itself to ask: are there ways of reading that can foster intersectional ways of thinking and being in the world? How we think about reading also constitutes part of how ideas


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move across space and time—and with whom and by what means: hence, Foreman (2013, p. 307) asks, “Where are we going anyway, and with whom will we travel?”

A Call for Reading against Dismemory without Decoupling As concepts like intersectionality move in the world, are taken up, applied, and debated, must the mode of travel (and the travelogue, or citation network) require decoupling— leaving behind, letting go, distancing from the past to create space for a different future? What gets lost in this way of crossing temporalities and terrains? What (or who) gets snuffed out or left behind in the act of departure or untethering? What testimonies go unheard, what witnesses silenced, what archival gaps formed? Put most succinctly: who/what is disremembered? Disremembering is active—a form of not-knowing with a purpose. Using wordplay to expose the violence of seemingly small interpretive gaps and archival holes, Foreman (2010) shows how dismemory is a kind of wilful ignorance, a form of dissing that leads to being dismembered from the body politic and buried. What might happen if we approached reading intersectionally, by using, for instance, “both/and” thinking to combat dismemory, resist decoupling, leave room for within-group differences, and account for power and context? To this end, Bilge (2020) urges us to “hear Black feminists’ qualms about the assumption that intersectionality’s global reach necessarily requires its moving past (rather than moving with) Black women” (p. 2318). At the same time, Nash (2019) cautions against originalism, a “diagnostic” way of reading current intersectional work (and debates) via an evaluative expectation to always adhere to early intersectionality writings. She raises concerns about pressure to maintain a kind of “faithfulness to intersectionality’s original texts” and about a highly racialised “rescue narrative” (pp. 65–66) that often “is manifested through a politics of citationality that explicitly references Crenshaw” and “that performs its care for intersectionality through its loyalty to the analytic’s founding scholars” (pp. 63, 65). With Cooper on my mind, and Bilge and Nash in my ear, I ask: might there be ways to read against dismemory’s epistemic violence without falling into the constraints (and different but nonetheless salient epistemic violence) of originalism? Is there a reading mode that can engage in historical recounting, textual sociality, and connection, thus taking into account Bilge’s worries about moving past and the kinds of dismemory and decoupling I’ve been describing, yet also address Nash’s concerns about fealty (which leaves little room for critique or change)? An intersectional “both/and” interpretive lens can offer a fruitful middle ground between the violent constraints of originalism, as Nash lays out, and a (different, also violent) free-floating intersectionality on the horizon, disembodied and disconnected from its histories, authors, labours, and texts. Intersectionality, as a body of knowledge, offers some reading tips and a means for ideas to move and be taken up via a lens of simultaneity called for in Valerie Smith’s (1994) method of “apposition” (pp. 671–672).

Appositional Intimacies A both/and appositional way of reading, I suggest, invites ways to “find shared logics and trace continuities across contexts and practices where, from single-axis mindsets, we


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have been taught not to notice meaningful connections. At the same time, [we must] avoid homogenising differences and collapsing divergences” (May 2015, p. 235). Looking for points of alignment, affinity, and convergence creates space to trace shared logics and read “histories and practices alongside each other, in relation, even if they are usually conceived of as unrelated (p. 236). Presuming incompatibility can occlude convergences, foreclose dialogue, and prevent provisional coalition: at the same time, it is just as important to avoid the erasures of equivalency, which obscures differences (see Carbado and Harris 2019). So, what might appositional reading/thinking, aiming neither to presume incompatibility nor obscure differences, look like? Crenshaw models a both/and appositional approach in her 2010 article, “Close Encounters of Three Kinds”. She explores significant sites of contact and points of tension between her work in law on intersectionality and Catherine MacKinnon’s on dominance theory. Crenshaw refuses common (either/or) readings that posit their legal interpretations in opposition (see also Carbado and Harris 2019, who juxtapose Crenshaw’s and MacKinnon’s ideas, engage in a lengthy reading of both legal traditions, illustrating how they have been speciously interpreted as analytics fundamentally at odds). In women’s studies, an appositional approach can unsettle (false) divides erroneously cleaving (US) Black feminist and women of colour feminist traditions from transnational and global feminisms—a misleading binary contravened by some of the coalitional reading lists and citational practices already discussed herein. Black feminisms have long been engaged in global movements and alliances, politically and epistemologically. To dislodge this distorting conceptual (and political) “wedge”, Nash (2019) suggests reading “sideways” or “side by side” (p.108)—taking up a way of “thinking through together” (p. 105). Further, Nash contends, using a “framework of coalition” can “reveal fundamental intimacy” (p. 107): this is important because while “both intersectionality and transnationalism…have similar intellectual, institutional, and affective trajectories within US academic feminism…, they have so often been constructed as mutually exclusive, and even as competing” (p. 103). In addition to underscoring how “intersectionality’s histories, as retold in women’s studies, have hinged on a forgetting of transnationalism” (p. 109), Nash is “invested in the possibilities of reading these analytics together to unleash intimacies among women of colour, and intimacies between analytics that have been wedged apart” (p. 106, italics original). To illustrate, she reads June Jordan’s 1982 essay “Report from the Bahamas” as engendering some of “the analytical, theoretical, and political possibilities of putting intersectionality and transnationalism side by side, mobilising both analytics to think in supple ways about structures of domination and their deeply contingent meanings” (p. 108). Akin to Nash’s “side by side” approach unpacking suppressed possibilities, and in line with Kathy Davis’ (2020) call for reading/thinking “in dialogue” more than in “contest” (p. 115), K. Bailey Thomas (2020) reads Crenshaw’s ideas about intersectionality “in tandem” with María Lugones’ notion of decolonial “fusion”, even as Lugones conceives of decoloniality and intersectionality in opposition and at times posits her own ideas in contradistinction to Crenshaw’s ostensible logic of identity (p. 516). Thomas explains, As it highlights areas of invisibility, intersectionality demonstrates the need to disrupt categorial logics enforced by dominant frameworks. In other words, Crenshaw’s theory is not at all antagonistic to the multiplicity that Lugones theorises. Lugones’s work exemplifies accounts of ontological and existential multiplicity, whereas Crenshaw theorises a notion of epistemic multiplicity. (514) 134

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She concludes, “Decoloniality, as Lugones theorises it, is not incompatible with intersectionality. In fact, there is great potential for the two theories to work in tandem” (p. 518, italics added). By rejecting baseline assumptions and historical frames that artificially atomise these traditions, we can begin to see how “intersectionality can be taken up in ways that align with (and ally with) decolonial feminisms” (May 2015, p. 231). Reading intersectionality and decolonial feminist theory through each other highlights, in no uncertain terms, how gender-primary thinking, and the category/concept/symbolic ordering of gender itself, imports the violence of settler colonialism as it imbricates with the violence of slavery and the rise of global capitalism (May 2015, pp. 201–207; 177–185). Gender (and the violence of being ungendered) cannot be extricated from racialisation and notions of the human (and not-human) forged in the crux of modernity. Unfortunately, intersectional and decolonial theoretical and political traditions are infrequently read in tandem.

Conclusion: Acknowledging Origins, Avoiding Originalism Drawing from insights gained via my body of work on Anna Julia Cooper, and in 19th- and 20th-century Black feminist literary studies, I have suggested that reading and thinking about intersectionality in the interstices offers possibilities for acknowledging intersectionality’s “moorings” (McKay 1998, p. 365) in the work of Black feminist and women of colour writers, who in large part crafted (and called for) intersectional approaches. At the same time, it lays the ground for building in some of the “structures of accountability” Foreman (2013) calls for without necessarily slipping into the “textual fidelity”, “territorialism”, and highly troubling (and racialised) rescue narratives Jennifer Nash (2019, 2016) cautions against in her examination of “intersectional originalism”. How scholars and practitioners of intersectionality approach texts and resources crafted by Black and women of colour feminists, with an eye towards justice and a transformed socio-political imagination and lived reality, matters. Leaving history behind, disembodying intersectionality as a body of knowledge (by “re-marginalising Black women” [Crenshaw 2011], and by decoupling intersectionality from its Black feminist and women of colour feminist origins) is untenable. Equally unsustainable is pursuit of a stifling devotion to an unchanging and constricted vision of Black feminist knowledges and histories, particularly when overlaid with performances of (white) feminist virtue via rescue plots to “save” intersectionality’s founding texts and scholars from critique (see Nash 2019). Working from intersectionality’s (ontologically, epistemologically, and politically) different “both/and” logics and structures, I have delineated some fruitful possibilities that coalitional citation and reading practices might offer. Reading intersectional work via appositional intimacy can help to reveal shared concerns and disrupt false divides without collapsing distinctions or covering over sites of silence and erasure: coalitional citation strategies may, likewise, help write new histories without resorting to dismemory. From across different and disparate locations, coalitional citational and reading practices can help to: disrupt either/or approaches to intersectionality that lead to false dualisms between intersectional and global analyses; take intersectionality in new directions without decoupling it from its histories or politics; and foster shared commitments without erasing differences or glossing over power asymmetries. We must insist on finding ways to read across the bounds of time, genre, and nation, to trace intergenerational genealogies but also use juxtaposition to read traditions alongside 135

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one another—to identify nodal points and intimacies without erasing distinctions, power differentials, or silencing critiques, and to combat the violence of dismemory without resorting to stifling fealty (Nash 2019). Coalitional citational practices and historical accountings, multifaceted justice orientations, and intimate appositional readings (and, ultimately, applications) of intersectionality create room to flesh out some shared commitments and pinpoint overlaps in analytical and political goals without ignoring power or collapsing differences in context, argument, and history.

Note 1 Note how duCille riffs on Black women writers who came before her, signals collective knowledge, weaves them in.

References Aguilar, D. D. (2012). “Tracing the roots of intersectionality.” Monthly Review online. Posted 2012. Accessed February 2021. Bilge, S. (2020). “The fungibility of intersectionality: An Afropessimist reading.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43(13), 2298–2326. Carbado, D. W., & Harris, C. I. (2019). “Intersectionality at 30: Mapping the margins of antiessentialism, intersectionality, and dominance theory.” Harvard Law Review, 132, 2193–2239. Christian, B. (1990). “The race for theory.” Anzaldúa, G. E. (ed.) Making face, making soul/haciendo caras: Creative and critical perspectives by feminists of colour. Aunt Lute, 334–345. Collective, C. R. (1983). “Combahee river collective statement.” Smith, B. & Smith, B. (eds.) Home girls: a black feminist anthology. Kitchen Table: Women of Colour Press, 264–274. Collins, P. H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Unwin Hyman. Connolly, B., & Fuentes, M. (2016). “Introduction: from archives of slavery to liberated futures?” History of the Present, 6(2), 105–117. Cooper, A. J. (2006). Slavery and the French and Haitian revolutionists. Rowman & Littlefield. ———. (1998). “The ethics of the Negro question” (1902). Lemert, C. & Bhan, E. (eds.) The voice of Anna Julia Cooper, including A Voice from the South and other important essays, papers, and letters. Rowman & Littlefield, 206–215. ———. (1988). A Voice from the South by a Black woman of the South. Oxford University Press. Cooper, B. C. (2017). Beyond respectability: the intellectual thought of race women. University of Illinois Press. Crenshaw, K. W. (2014). “Justice rising: moving intersectionally in the age of post-everything.” London School of Economics, March 27: accessed February, 2021. lsepodcasts/justice-rising-moving. ———. (2011). “Postscript.” Lutz, H., Vivar, M. T. H., & Supik, L. (eds.) Framing intersectionality: debates on a multi-faceted concept in gender studies. Ashgate, 221–234. ———. (2010). “Close encounters of three kinds: on teaching dominance feminism and intersectionality.” Tulsa Law Review, 46(1), 151–189. ———. (1990). “Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of colour.” Stanford Law Review, 43, 1241–1299. ———. (1989). “Demarginalising the intersection of race and sex: a black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(1), 139–168. Davies, C. B. (2008). Left of Karl Marx: the political life of black communist Claudia Jones. Duke University Press. Davis, K. (2020). “Who owns intersectionality? Some reflections on feminist debates on how theories travel.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 27(2), 113–127. Dotson, K. (2017). “Theorising Jane Crow, theorising unknowability.” Social Epistemology, 31(5), 417–430.


Muted Tongues, Disappearing Acts, and Disremembered Subjects ———. (2013). “Radical love: Black philosophy as deliberate acts of inheritance.” The Black Scholar, 43(4), 38–45. duCille, A. (1994). “The occult of true black womanhood: critical demeanour and black feminist studies.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 19(3), 591–629. ———. (1993). The coupling convention: sex, text, and tradition in black women’s fiction. Oxford University Press. Foreman, P. G. (2013). “A riff, a call, and a response: reframing the problem that led to our being tokens in ethnic and gender studies; or, where are we going anyway and with whom will we travel?” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, 30(2), 306–322. ———. (2010). “Activating the archive. University of San Diego.” Recording accessed February, 2021, Harris, D. (1999). “All of who I am in the same place: the Combahee River Collective.” Womanist Theory and Research 2(1), 9–20. Henning, T. M. (2020). “Racial methodological microaggressions.” Freeman, L., & Schroer, J. W. (eds.) Microaggressions and Philosophy. Routledge, 251–272. May, V. M. (2021a). “Anna Julia Cooper, archival absences, and Black women’s ‘muffled’ knowledge.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 40 (1), 241–272. ———. (2021b). “Anna Julia Cooper on slavery’s afterlife: can international thought hear her ‘muffled’ voice?” Owens, P. & Rietzler, K. (eds.) Toward a History of Women’s International Thought. Cambridge University Press, 29–51. ———. (2015). Pursuing intersectionality, unsettling dominant imaginaries. Routledge. ———. (2012). “Intellectual genealogies, intersectionality, and Anna Julia Cooper.” Vaz, K. M. & Lemons, G. L. (eds.) Feminist solidarity at the crossroads: Intersectional women’s studies for transracial alliance. Routledge, 59–71. ———. (2008a). ““By a black woman of the south”: race, place, and gender in the work of Anna Julia Cooper.” Southern Quarterly, 45(3), 127–152. ———. (2008b). ““It is never a question of the slaves”: Anna Julia Cooper’s challenge to history’s silences in her 1925 Sorbonne thesis.” Callaloo, 31(3), 903–918. ———. (2007). Anna Julia Cooper, visionary black feminist: A critical introduction. Routledge. McKay, N. Y. (1998). “Naming the problem that led to the question, “Who shall teach African American literature?”; or, Are we ready to disband the Wheatley court?” PMLA 113(3), 359–369. Moradi, B., Parent, M. C., Weis, A. S., Ouch, S., & Broad, K. L. (2020). “Mapping the travels of intersectionality scholarship: a citation network analysis.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, 44(2), 151–169. Nash, J. (2019). Black feminism reimagined: after intersectionality. Duke University Press. ———. (2016). “Feminist originalism: intersectionality and the politics of reading.” Feminist Theory, 17(1), 3–20. Santa Cruz Feminist of Colour Collective. (2014). “Building on “the edge of each other’s battles”: a feminist of colour multidimensional lens.” Hypatia, 29(1), 23–40. Smallwood, S. E. (2016). “The politics of the archive and history’s accountability to the enslaved.” History of the Present, 6(2), 117–133. Smith, V. (1994). “Black feminist theory and the representation of the “other.”” Madison, D. S. (ed.) The Woman That I Am: The Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Colour. St. Martin’s, 671–687. Thomas, K. B. (2020). “Intersectionality and epistemic erasure: a caution to decolonial feminism.” Hypatia, 35(3), 509–523. Weigand, K. (2002). Red feminism: American communism and the making of women’s liberation. Johns Hopkins University Press.



Kimberlé W. Crenshaw’s first essay on intersectionality, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex” (1989), presented two spatial metaphors for intersectionality: the well-known horizontal metaphor of the traffic intersection and the lesser-known vertical metaphor of the basement. While the metaphor of the basement has been “largely forgotten” (Carastathis, 2013, p. 698), the metaphor of the traffic intersection has been taken up as intersectionality’s central image – as the primary way to explain and to metaphorically visualise the concept. Although the concept of intersectionality has gained a remarkably strong foothold in feminist and other critical discourses aiming to reveal the complexities of oppression and social inequality, scholars have objected to Crenshaw’s traffic intersection metaphor, arguing that it contains misleadingly additive imagery. In the more than three decades that have passed since the publication of Crenshaw’s essay, an abundance of – more or less eccentric – alternative metaphors for intersectionality have been proposed. In this chapter, I map the landscape of alternative metaphors and take this map as a starting point to reflect upon what drives the attempts to find new and, supposedly, better intersectionality metaphors. I suggest that the accelerated search for new metaphors can be described as a quest for the right metaphor for intersectionality, where what counts as “right” invariably involves the transcendence of additivity. What can this quest for the “new” and the “right” reveal to us about dominant narratives seeking to describe the future of intersectionality?

The Power of Metaphor Language, in both its everyday and academic forms, is loaded with metaphor. One way of explaining the basic function of a metaphor is to say that it involves understanding one kind of thing in terms of another (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980/2003, p. 5). Metaphors make use of tropes, expressions that shift the literal or familiar meaning of words and depict them as something else. Locating and reflecting upon the abundance of metaphors in our everyday and academic language illustrates to us why they are something we “live by”, as George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980/2003) put it in their classic work on metaphor published in the early 1980s. Far from being a peripheral phenomenon of language, something DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-14 138

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extraordinary that belongs to the realms of poetry and rhetoric, metaphors deeply influence our everyday thinking and actions. Once you start looking for metaphors in an academic text, they are likely to spring up like mushrooms. My own writing in this chapter is no exception. It includes scholars going on quests and landscapes to be mapped, as well as a pile of more implicit, un-reflected ones. Carefully examining the metaphorical nature of much of our academic terminology can expose to us in a rather concrete way the untenability of the pretention to purely literal and representational scientific language, a form of language that is assumed to primarily stand for and mirror a reality that exists outside of language. During the 1980s, scholars started to take metaphors more seriously as an academic area of enquiry. The increased interest in and focus on metaphors coincided with what has been seen as a postmodern turn in the social and human sciences, involving a greater emphasis on the “figural nature of language” (Alvesson, 1993, p. 115) and the creative role of imagination and fantasy in our academic practices. In his bestselling book on organisational theory, Images of ­ Organization (1986/2006), Gareth Morgan demonstrated how different metaphors – such as machines, organisms, brains, cultures, psychic prisons and flux – operate in our understandings of organisations. A core insight advanced by Morgan is that the metaphors through which we see organisations shape our understanding of the research object in a decisive way; that is, they shape our understanding of what an organisation is and how it works. Thus, the metaphors can engender different theories of organisation. Certain metaphors are easier to recognise as metaphors than others. Metaphors such as broken hearts, bad apples, moral compasses, late bloomers and double-edged swords make use of well-known objects from mundane settings and translate them into new, sometimes surprising, ones. Hence, metaphors function re-figuratively: the familiar meaning of a concept is refigured by our understanding of it in terms of something else (see Sobchack, 2006). With regard to intersectionality, however, recognising the metaphorical quality of the term might not be so easy. Intersectionality is an abstract, technical term, which cannot by itself evoke or play on the same range of intuitions and associations as words that more naturally belong to the sphere of the everyday. Unlike a “bad apple”, it does not have an agricultural history to draw upon. Moreover, as Kathy Davis has underlined, intersectionality comes across as a particularly “vague and open-ended concept” (2008, p. 77), and thus it is open to a range of different interpretations. Without going further into the question of whether this open-endedness should be regarded as an advantage or a disadvantage to intersectionality as a project, one can conclude that it is not a straightforward task to locate intersectionality as a phenomenon in the world that can be given a literal description. A consequence of this is that academics and activists depend upon the use of (other) metaphors in their attempts to grasp the concept. Metaphors are needed for the idea to come alive to us. What is peculiar about intersectionality as a concept, then, is the degree to which, as Ann Garry puts it, “it has required explanation and elaboration in terms of other metaphors, images, and analogies” (2011, p. 831). In this sense, intersectionality is a deeply metaphorically structured concept. In an interview published 20 years after her first academic articulation of intersectionality, Crenshaw discusses her initial understanding of the idea and states that her “own use of the term ‘intersectionality’ was just a metaphor” (Guidroz & Berger, 2009, p. 65). Yet, considering intersectionality’s “brilliant career” (Lutz, 2014), the use of the downplaying word “just” comes across as a bit puzzling, even misleading.1 Instead, the very imaginative potency of the traffic intersection could be regarded as a central explanation for its 139

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booming entrance, increasing prevalence and continued relevance within both academic and non-academic scenes. As pointed out by Garry, presenting the idea of intersectionality through a “sterile intersection of sets in mathematics” or as a “Venn diagram” (2011, p. 831), would not have come close to having the same powerful imaginative effect on the academic community of readers as the metaphor of the traffic intersection did. By metaphorically visualising black women’s experience of discrimination as the experience of being run over by traffic from multiple directions, Crenshaw provided particularly evocative imagery to accompany her analyses of legal cases in the USA, where a certain segment of the population, black women, was slipping through the cracks of US legal anti-discrimination doctrines. In another interview published in the British magazine New Statesman in 2014, Crenshaw reflects on her motivation for positioning a metaphor at the centre of her explanation of the idea of intersectionality: I wanted to come up with a common everyday metaphor that people could use to say: ‘it’s well and good for me to understand the kind of discriminations that occur along this avenue, along this axis – but what happens when it flows into another axis, another avenue?’ (Adewunmi, 2014, para. 5, emphasis added) By helping people to see the everyday relevance of intersectionality and, consequently, to start asking intersectional questions, the metaphor of the traffic intersection is being entrusted here with the ability to do important translational work. This work involves translating the idea of intersectionality, which Crenshaw describes as “not easy” (2014, para. 6), from the less accessible sphere of academic and legal critique into the sphere of everyday experience. Although, in one sense, the imagery of cars crashing and thereby causing intersectional accidents constitutes a dramatic type of imagery, Crenshaw’s traffic intersection can also be interpreted in less dramatic ways. From a different perspective, one that sees the metaphor as probing into the sphere of the “commonly everyday”, the potentially prosaic associations of cars, roads and traffic accidents can underline the fact that experiences of intersectional discrimination are also, sadly, all too common. Hence, the traffic intersection metaphor is not only characterised by a certain “vivacity” (Garry, 2011, p. 831), it can also be seen as a metaphor of the everyday. As Patricia Hill Collins notes, the image of the traffic intersection was “recognizable to many people because it invoked the tangible, spatial relations of everyday life” (2019, p. 27). This suggests an understanding of the appeal of the traffic intersection metaphor as ambiguously divided between, on the one hand, the dramatic and evocative, and, on the other hand, the unspectacular routines of day-to-day life.

The Problem of Additivity Even though metaphors can lead to new insights, they can also cause distortions of reality, and therefore require continuous critical reflection. The traffic intersection metaphor has certainly received its share of such critical reflection. Scholars have repeatedly objected to this metaphor, finding it “limiting” (Ken, 2008, p. 152), “misleading” (Lykke, 2006, p. 151), “problematic” (Staunæs & Søndergaard, 2012, p. 50) and/or “unfortunate” (Ferguson, 2017, p. 271). Most of these objections centre on the additive dimensions of 140

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the image of the traffic intersection. Additivity, in this context, is a way of conceptualising the relationship between social categories as separate and independent, making it possible to add them to each other. The traffic intersection metaphor has been called “inherently additive” (Yuval-Davis, 2007, p. 565), especially because it separates roads that lead into and out of the intersection (Dhamoon, 2011; Jordan-Zachery, 2007; Lykke, 2006, 2010; Staunæs & Søndergaard, 2012; Yuval-Davis, 2006, 2007). Other objections are closely related to these concerns about additivity and separability but frame the problematics in terms of how the imagery suggested by the language of intersections and intersectionality is static (Ken, 2008, p. 154; Lykke, 2010, p. 73), reifying (Jorba & Rodó-Zárate, 2019; Ken, 2008, p. 155), or that it “fix[es] identities and categories” (Staunæs & Søndergaard, 2012, p. 47). Even Collins, who at other times praises intersectionality’s metaphorical power, concedes that the crossroads metaphor “may not be the best metaphor for explaining social phenomena” after all (2019, p. 29). The accumulation of criticisms of the traffic intersection metaphor over the years has been accompanied by an increased focus on the fact that this metaphor was not the only one offered in “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex” (1989). Crenshaw’s essay also contains the metaphor of the basement, a vertical metaphor that introduces notions of hierarchy and privilege to the intersectional imagery. It is worth noting that, by sketching out two different metaphors for intersectionality in “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex”, Crenshaw herself set the tone for the later exploration of alternative images for and analogies to intersectionality. Right from the start of intersectionality’s academic career, she gave a signal that whatever intersectionality “was”, the imagery that could be used to capture this idea was not set in stone. The floor was open, in other words, for other metaphors to contribute to the understanding of the concept of intersectionality.

Adding to the Traffic Intersection A large number of metaphors have been discussed in relation to the idea of intersectionality.2 Some scholars have continued to work with the traffic imagery of roadways, intersections and crossroads, and even Crenshaw herself has revised and varied the traffic intersection metaphor in later works (e.g., Crenshaw, 2003; Garry, 2011; Lee, 2012; Yuval-Davis, 2006, p. 196). In her essay, “Intersectionality, Metaphors, and the Multiplicity of Gender” (2011), Garry sketches a step-by-step addition of more elements to the traffic intersection metaphor, elements that build upon but at the same time complicate the metaphor as it was originally presented in Crenshaw’s 1989 essay. The first step in this process of making the metaphor more complex is to add more streets and a roundabout to the original formulation of the traffic intersection. The need for these stems from the insight that “being hit by two different cars does not show the ways that oppressions can interact” and that sometimes “one axis of oppression uses another to oppress a single person” (Garry, 2011, p. 831). The image of only two, or maybe three, cars entering the intersection from different directions simply cannot visually convey these facets of intersectionality. When the traffic intersection metaphor is limited to two roads meeting in a four-way intersection, it encourages readings that keep our concept of intersectionality stuck in “simplified” (p. 831) additive models of multiple oppression, like models of “double” or “triple” oppressions. In contrast, the addition of more cars from more streets meeting at a roundabout makes the metaphor more “fluid” (p. 832) and therefore better able to capture the “blend[ing]” and “intermesh[ing]” of different axes of oppression (p. 831). 141

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Nevertheless, these added elements still cannot redeem the restrictive horizontality of the image of the traffic intersection. As some of the early interpretations of the idea of intersectionality focussed almost exclusively on the intersectional constitution of oppression, Garry’s own understanding of intersectionality is one that also pays close attention to how structures of privilege and oppression work together and relate to each other. The next step in the process of adding more elements to the traffic intersection metaphor must therefore be to find a visual element that allows the inclusion of structures of privilege as well as oppression. To do so, we must venture beyond the flat structure of the roundabout. What is lacking, and what is therefore needed, is an element of verticality. At this point, Garry turns to mountains “[i]n order to address the horizontality of the model and its lack of ability to incorporate the ways in which privilege in one respect can mitigate or modify oppression in another” (p. 833). This far into the thought-experiment, Garry introduces running liquids – “milk, coffee, nail polish, olive oil, beet borscht, paint in several colors” (p. 833) – to accompany the image of the mountain. Again, the motivation is to ensure that the imagery remains fluid, not rock hard, solid and discrete, as vehicles coming down from mountains might automatically suggest. However, after all these adjustments, not even this complicated – and barely recognisable – version of the traffic intersection captures intersectionality in its proper form: “For me, this image captures intersectionality better than many others, but it still cannot capture agency well” (p. 833). Garry seems to be aware of the challenges of balancing her concern for richness and complexity with the insight that a clarifying explanation of the concept also requires a certain degree of simplicity. It is exactly this form of tension that Garry is pinpointing when she asserts that “it is, in fact, difficult to find visual images that both capture all the features of intersectionality and are simple enough to help explain the concept” (p. 833). There seem to be two different interpretations of what would constitute a successful explanation of the concept at play here: one involves communicating the idea of intersectionality in a crystallised and easily relatable way; the other involves being able to represent a complex reality more adequately. These are pulling in different directions: one towards simplicity and surface; the other towards complexity and depth. Although admitting the pedagogical and communicative limits of her own complicating take on the traffic intersection metaphor, what lingers in the background of Garry’s thought-experiment is a belief in the possibility of achieving, or at least drawing closer to, “rich” and “nuanced” understandings of intersectionality through metaphor. In this approach, metaphors that satisfy “the need for messiness” (p. 833) through an emphasis on heterogeneity, impurity and fluidity can help us move closer to understanding the complexity of intersectionality. Despite some provisions about the limits of the human ability to comprehend, the adding of elements to the traffic intersection does, after all, appear to be guided by the aim of finding metaphors that can get us closer to seeing the world in its full complexity.

Food for Thought In Crenshaw’s reflections upon her motivation for choosing the metaphor of the traffic intersection in her New Statesman interview (Adewunmi, 2014), the turn to the sphere of the everyday is presented as a conscious choice. It is about forming and presenting an easily relatable metaphor. Much in accordance with Crenshaw’s line of thinking on this point, namely, facilitating a translation of something unfamiliarly abstract into something 142

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familiarly everyday, many alternative metaphors for intersectionality have centred on one particular “ingredient” of everyday life, namely food. Food is understood here in a broad sense that includes more than just edible objects but also the practices of cooking, mixing, producing and eating food. So, what have a basket of apples (Rodó-Zárate & Jorba, 2022), batter (Bowleg, 2013), sugar cookies (Ken, 2008) and swirls in marble cake (JordanZachery, 2007) got to do with intersectionality? There is one aspect of the sphere of food that seems to have had an especially alluring effect on scholars in their search of better intersectionality metaphors: the messiness, changeability and impurity of cooking, mixing and eating food. I refer here to the ways in which ingredients intermingle, how they flow into and transform each other: parts becoming wholes, wholes becoming parts, blending, boiling, spilling and chewing. “Once You’ve Blended the Cake, You Can’t Take the Parts Back to the Main Ingredients”, is the title of an article on black gay and bisexual men’s intersectional experiences (Bowleg, 2013). One food metaphor for intersectionality is Ivy Ken’s metaphor of sugar, proposed in the essay “Beyond the Intersection: A New Culinary Metaphor for Race-Class-Gender Studies” (2008). This image zooms out from a narrow focus on the kitchen mess of cooking and mixing foods to emphasise the way in which food is just a part of long chains of processing stages that start long before it enters anyone’s kitchen and end long after the food is put into anyone’s mouth. A central assertion in Ken’s essay is that the imagery of interlocking intersections on which studies of race, class and gender rests, has “limited our ability to explore the characteristics of their relationships in empirical and theoretical work” (2008, p. 152). The move “beyond”, promised by the essay’s title, thus involves a shift of imagery from one based on intersections to something else. Ken finds this “something else” in the sphere of food. After an extensive discussion of the metaphorical relevance of food in general, the specific metaphor of sugar is singled out as a promising example of a food metaphor that can help us to form new imagery that will take us beyond the language of intersections. Sugar, as Ken reminds us, is the product of a long chain of processing stages: from its production (planting, cultivating, harvesting), via its use in the kitchen (for instance, mixing it with other ingredients when baking), to our experience when we taste it. Moreover, although we may think that this processual chain has reached its end stage when we put the sugar into our mouths and experience its flavour, this is not the case, as Ken explains. The full processual chain for sugar also includes digestion: as the human body takes it up as nutrition and expels it as waste (2008, pp. 167–169). How does sugar function as a metaphor for the relations between different sources of oppression? According to Ken, it can illuminate crucial aspects of the relations between social categories and can “help illustrate how elements of race, class, and gender are produced, used, experienced, and processed” (2008, p. 153–154), in much the same way as sugar is. Social categories like gender, race and class are, like sugar, produced, used, experienced and, lastly, processed in our bodies. Importantly, bodies can here be understood as both human and institutional (p. 153). Ken asserts that an understanding of the relations between race, class and gender in terms of sugar enables a move away “from imagery that unwittingly makes these sources of oppression and privilege seem static” (2008, p. 154). Moreover, starting out with categories in the way that is encouraged by the imagery of intersections may also contribute to a reification of these categories (p. 155). Instead, the metaphor of sugar allows a focus “on the structural and individual forces at work in their continual and mutual constitution” (p. 154), whereby one can “examine specific cruxes at which sources of oppressions are related” (p. 155). Sugar seems to cover all the bases: it includes both structural and individual levels 143

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(“structural and individual forces”), it is both temporal and fluid (“continual and mutual constitution”), it accounts for relationality (“cruxes of relation”) and, finally, it is historically grounded through relating directly to the colonial history of sugar production, import and trade. Another example among the mountain of food-related metaphors is the metaphor of stew, elaborated in Shannon Sullivan’s book Living across and through Skins (2001). Circulating in discussions of intersectionality in more passive and indirect ways than Ken’s metaphor of sugar, the metaphor of stew is not proposed as an alternative to intersectionality in its entirety but instead to the more specific notion of “interaction”. Sullivan’s stew metaphor is illustrative of the Deweyan notion of a “transaction” which, according to Sullivan, “indicate[s] the dynamic, co-constitutive relationship of organisms and their environments” (2001, p. 1). It represents a middle way between the assimilative collapsing of differences, as in the famous metaphor of the melting pot, where ingredients melt together into an undifferentiated mass, and the metaphor of a tossed salad, where the ingredients are placed side by side but do not interact in any transformative way and the differences between them are kept intact (2001, pp. 14–16).3 In Sullivan’s stew the vegetables retain their “identity” in the pot, but at the same time they are transformed by interacting with other vegetables. Thinking of a stew as a metaphor for intersectional social relations and identities, the vegetables in the pot could be seen as representing human bodies. The metaphor of the stew can also illuminate the dynamic relationship between different parts of one’s social identity, such as categories of race, gender, class, sexuality, age, dis/ability and so on: “Like the vegetables in a stew, one’s gender helps constitute one’s race, and vice versa, in a dynamic relationship” (2001, p. 21). In other words, the vegetables in the stew can represent objects at different levels: both human bodies’ transactional relationship with their environment, and the transactional relationship between different aspects of a person’s social identity. As in the metaphor of sugar, the transactional model visualised by the metaphor of the stew promises to take us beyond atomistic and additive understandings of the world, where categories can be separated and added to each other. The stew, with its assorted vegetables, is, therefore, like sugar, offered as a metaphor that can help us to understand the relationship between categories and to capture more exactly what is happening in the point of intersection. The stew, then, is a metaphor that, to a greater extent than a traffic intersection, conveys the dynamic, co-constituted nature of such categorical relationships.

In and out of Space Whereas the traffic and food metaphors discussed above take us to the sphere of the everyday, some attempts to find better metaphors have gone in the opposite direction: towards the abstract and theoretical, even the metaphysical. The two metaphors to be found in Crenshaw’s “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex” – the traffic intersection and the basement – are both spatial. However, while these metaphors are spatial in the concrete, tangible sense of being objects to which most of us can relate directly in our lives, there are also some spatial metaphors for intersectionality that take notions of spatiality to a considerably higher level of ontological abstraction. Interestingly, then, several of the alternative metaphors seem to be no less abstract than the imagery of intersections they are


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intended to replace and swap out tangible, observable spatial objects for an exploration of more metaphysical notions of space. Complaining about the reifying effects of thinking intersectionality through the metaphor of the traffic intersection, Dorthe Staunæs and Dorte Marie Søndergaard propose the metaphor of a disorderly space of becoming as part of an attempt to contribute with a “theoretical adjustment” to intersectionality (2012, p. 46). Through approaching intersectionality as a space that is in the midst of a process of becoming, a becoming space, this metaphor allegedly avoids the problem of the reification of social identities and categories. The focus on becoming – on the doing of identity – also resonates with the conceptualisation of intersectionality found in another article by Staunæs, where intersectionality, in line with “[t]he need for a non-additional approach” (2003, p. 105) to intersectionality, is conceptualised as a performative process: “as a process of ‘doing’” (p. 102). Interestingly, the attention to spaces can also include looking for different ways of conceptualising between-spaces. A hint about the usefulness of thinking through and problematising what is between spaces can be found in Ken’s discussion of the relevance of culinary metaphors for theorising the relationship between different sources of oppression. Quoting Rick Dolphijn’s book Foodscapes, Ken asserts that an examination of the processes between ingredients in cooking enables a “think[ing] from the space between” (Dolphijn, cited in Ken, 2008, p. 162). This leads us to a series of further metaphors that emphasise the liminal position between or on both sides of something, a between-space. One metaphor for between-ness is Gloria Anzaldúa’s metaphor of the borderland (1987), which, although it predates Crenshaw’s traffic intersection metaphor, has subsequently been drawn into discussions of alternative intersectionality metaphors by, among others, Collins (2019) and Wekker (2009). Lastly, some metaphors thematise space by trying to go beyond it – by transcending our human inclination to pin down human subjects and bodies in a cartographical or topographical manner; that is, by outlining the shapes of surfaces and terrains. Evelien Geerts and Iris van der Tuin (2013), for instance, propose “a move” from intersectionality to interference, a theoretical concept that tries to capture the Baradian notion of intra-actional relations and takes representationalism as its main critical target (see Barad & DeKoven, 2001). Another scholar who draws on the work of Karen Barad to develop an alternative to the language of intersections and intersectionality is Jasbir K. Puar. Her suggestion is to “supplement”, “complicate” and “reconceptualize” intersectionality by introducing the notion of an assemblage, an anglicisation of Deleuze and Guattari’s original term “agencement”. The notion of an assemblage gives rise to a focus “not on content but on relations, relations of patterns” (Puar, 2012, p. 57) and where identity is no longer seen as a thing that can be mapped out or pinned down, but instead is conceptualised as an “event” (p. 58).4 The various alternative metaphors thematising space deal with or problematise our understanding of space, considered as either forms of space, between-space or non-space. They are called upon to alleviate the additive and static dimensions of the traffic intersection metaphor: to make the conceptualisation of space more dynamic or to transcend topographical notions of space by homing in on between-spaces and non-spaces. But what these metaphors also do is to bring the discussion of metaphorical imagery into more epistemological and ontological territory, asking questions about what it really means for something to intersect with something else: what is it that goes on in the intersection?


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Interpreting the Intersection The question of how to understand the notion of an intersection lies at the heart of many debates about intersectionality in feminist and gender studies. As I showed to be the case with the food metaphors of sugar and stew, most of the alternative metaphors for intersectionality are proposed with an eye to finding better ways to visualise the intersectional relationships between categories; that is, ways of conveying what is going on in the intersection in non-additive ways. But, whereas the metaphors I have discussed above are engaged in this ameliorative work by proposing alternative overarching metaphors for intersectionality, a wide range of alternative metaphorical notions have been entrusted with the task of interpreting the concept of intersection more directly. These abstract notions are used to interpret and explain what is going on at the core of the intersectionality metaphor, that is, within the intersection. One notion that dominates the discussions is that of “mutual constitution”, as well as the closely related notions of “co-constitution”, “co-construction” and the seemingly pleonastic “mutual co-constitution” (Lykke, 2006, p. 151; Puar, 2012, p. 49). As Ivy Ken and Allison Suppan Helmuth point out in their analysis of the understandings and uses of mutual constitution in feminist scholarship, it “appears with regularity” (2021, p. 575) in intersectional analyses, even to the point where it is often used as and assumed to be a synonym for intersectionality. However, they find that even though – or perhaps because? – the relationship of mutual constitution has the alluring quality of “sound[ing] right” and having “a ring of truth to it” (p. 576), this relation is primarily asserted, and very seldom demonstrated through a detailed analysis of empirical material. As they put it, the notion of mutual constitution primarily “serves as a counterpoint to the notion that race, class, sexuality, gender, nation, disability or ethnicity could be additive, binary, separate or hierarchically ordered” (2021, p. 576, emphasis added). Thus, a strategy of negative definition – defining something by way of what it is not – appears in these attempts to interpret the intersection: “Mutual constitution served in so much of this scholarship as little more than a placeholder for ‘not that’” (p. 588). To put it more directly, the notion of mutual constitution serves as a placeholder for “not additive”. Again, the core intersectional relation – in this context, signified by the notion of mutual constitution – becomes defined by what it is not, by its counterpoint, namely an additive relation. If, as Ken and Helmuth assert, the “signification of mutual constitution” amounts to “nothing more than a story about ‘non-additiveness’” (2021, p. 592), then the interpretative work that it is doing is probably not so much substantial – such as clarifying the nature of mutually constitutive relations – as simply a form of rhetorical work that confirms the meta-story about intersectionality’s non-additivity. This indicates that attempts of introducing alternative metaphorical notions that can be entrusted with the task of further interpreting what exactly is going on within the intersection do not necessarily bring more substantial clarity to the question of what it means for something to intersect with something else.

On Pure Impurity Lively and imaginative discussions about metaphors, such as those illustrated by this chapter’s mapping of metaphors, are of course not exclusive to the field of intersectionality studies; debates over metaphors have also been central to the development of other fields of study. Many philosophical and sociological attempts to describe society are deeply 146

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metaphorical, such as, for instance, the famous social organism metaphor in sociology: the image of society as a living organism. In the field of research on gender in science and academia, for instance, a similar proliferation of metaphors has been documented, a proliferation that has been described as the field’s “pursuit of the ideal metaphor” (Moratti 2020, p. 864; see also Husu, 2001). Considering this chapter’s demonstration of the abundance of alternative intersectionality metaphors proposed in recent years, I suggest that this accelerated search for new metaphors can be described in very much the same way; namely, as a quest for the right metaphor for intersectionality. What drives these attempts to improve on the imagery of intersectionality by finding new and, supposedly, better metaphors? What are these alternative metaphors intended to do for intersectional research? My reflections revolve around two key observations and their internal relationship. The first observation is temporal and concerns how the quest for better intersectionality metaphors constitutes a move towards creating a more intersectional future. This builds upon and supports Jennifer C. Nash’s claim that intersectionality can usefully be understood through the figure of the “not yet”, which signifies what feminist and women’s studies could, but have not yet, become (2014, p. 48). A mode of thought that follows from this forward-looking temporal orientation is what Nash calls a “logic” of improvement, and she highlights metaphor politics as an illustrative area where such a logic is identifiable (see 2014, p. 51–52). The second observation concerns how, simultaneously, the quest for better metaphors constitutes a set of attempts to transcend additive imagery in a definitive way. Thus, this chapter demonstrates that the logic of improvement, as it expresses itself in discussions on intersectionality metaphors, is not just any kind of improvement, but consistently revolves around the aim of transcending additivity. “Better”, in other words, means more complex, fluid and dynamic but also less additive. “Better metaphors”, then, are metaphors that can transcend the additive dimensions of the original conceptualisation in Crenshaw and lead us to more (and more) complex accounts of categorical interrelatedness. The quest for improved metaphors was thus instigated by the widespread dissatisfaction with a situation in which intersectionality’s central image does not live up to the project’s aspirations in terms of capturing its both/and, matrix-thinking ambitions. As Collins notes, for instance, there is a general feeling that there must be better alternatives to convey intersectional ideas than the one of traffic intersections: “[s]ome scholars recognize the significance of intersectionality as a metaphor, yet offer alternatives to it that seemingly do a better job explaining social reality” (2019, p. 29). And, as Katrine Smiet points out, the dissatisfaction with the traffic intersection metaphor stems from the insight “that it does not capture adequately the fundamental intertwinedness and co-constitution of the different forms of discrimination” (2014, p. 35). Thus, the traffic intersection metaphor is seen, paradoxically, as too impure, too entwined with traces of additivity, to suffice. The insight that the problem of additivity has not even been solved at the level of metaphorical imagery seems, then, to be adding fuel to the quest for better metaphors. Solving this problem would involve finding a metaphor that could entirely transcend additive forms of imagery. Hence, the “right” metaphor for intersectionality must also be one that is unsullied by traces of additivity. The quest for better metaphors seems to be driven by a concern that metaphors which are too additive will keep us trapped in a logic of purity. At this point, I am reminded of Garry’s emphasis on the “need for messiness” in our intersectionality metaphors. Garry praises, for instance, the way in which a “logic of impurity” reigns in the work of María Lugones: “Not only does Lugones use rich imagery, but she is also especially concerned that 147

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intersectionality and related concepts not leave our key concepts pure, tidy, and separate from each other” (2011, p. 833–834). However, the structuring of the negotiations over intersectionality metaphors as a form of “quest” for the right, ideal or perfect one, appears to aim for its own kind of purity by aspiring towards a pure version of the impure; that is, by attempting to develop a metaphor that is free from additive pollution. Pure impurity is to be achieved through a transcendence of additivity. Looking at these two observations together – the orientation towards the future and the crucial role of the figure of the additive in shaping this orientation – can show us that the dominant narratives seeking to describe the future of intersectionality are constructed in opposition to additivity. By letting additivity signify the “other”, the “passé”, the “polluted”, this keeps scholarly discourses on intersectionality bound to an either-or dynamic where formulations of intersectionality are reduced to little more than being anti-additive. My worry is that the tendency to operate in correspondence with and aspire towards such ideals of purity might have a hampering effect on our intellectual and metaphorical imagination. Taking the “the need for messiness” in our metaphors seriously would instead require an acknowledgement of the additive dimensions of our thinking, which would allow us to see additivity as a creative resource rather than as an embarrassment.

Notes 1 Collins discusses this quote at length in the book Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory, interpreting it as a dismissal not only of the important role of the traffic intersection metaphor for the understanding of intersectionality but also, by extension, as an underestimation of the potency of metaphors for social and political theorising in general (2019, pp. 24–33). 2 For a more extensive list of alternative metaphors for intersectionality, see Hoffart (2021). 3 The melting pot and tossed salad/salad bowl metaphors have their roots in and are closely associated with US and UK debates about multiculturalism. 4 By including theoretical concepts such as interference and assemblage among the alternative metaphors for intersectionality discussed in this chapter, I do not mean to imply that these concepts, although metaphorically structured, are reducible to their metaphorical aspects.

References Adewunmi, B. (2014, April 2). Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality: “I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use”. New Statesman. lifestyle/2014/04/kimberl-crenshaw-intersectionality-i-wanted-come-everyday-metaphor-anyonecould Alvesson, M. (1993). The play of metaphors. In J. Hassard & M. Parker (Eds.), Postmodernism and organizations (pp. 114–131). SAGE Publications. Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/La frontera: The new mestiza. Aunt Lute Books. Barad, K., & DeKoven, M. (2001). Re(con)figuring space, time, and matter. In M. DeKoven (Ed.), Feminist locations: Global and local, theory and practice (pp. 75–109). Rutgers University Press. Bowleg, L. (2013). “Once you’ve blended the cake, you can’t take the parts back to the main ingredients”: Black gay and bisexual men’s descriptions and experiences of intersectionality. Sex Roles, 68(11–12), 754–767. Carastathis, A. (2013). Basements and intersections. Hypatia, 28(4), 698–715. Collins, P. H. (2019). Intersectionality as critical social theory. Duke University Press. Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. The University of Chicago ­Legal Forum, (140), 139–167.


The Quest for the Right Metaphor Crenshaw, K. (2003). Traffic at the crossroads: Multiple oppressions. In R. Morgan (Ed.), Sisterhood is forever: The women’s anthology for a new millennium (pp. 43–57). Washington Square Press. Davis, K. (2008). Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful. Feminist Theory, 9(1), 67–85. Dhamoon, R. K. (2011). Considerations on mainstreaming intersectionality. Political Research Quarterly, 64(1), 230–243. Ferguson, K. E. (2017). Feminist theory today. Annual Review of Political Science, 20, 269–286. Garry, A. (2011). Intersectionality, metaphors, and the multiplicity of gender. Hypatia, 26(4), 826–850. Geerts, E., & van der Tuin, I. (2013). From intersectionality to interference: Feminist ontoepistemological reflections on the politics of representation. Women’s Studies International Forum, (41), 171–178. Guidroz, K., & Berger, M. T. (2009). A conversation with founding scholars of intersectionality: Kimberlé Crenshaw, Nira Yuval-Davis, and Michelle Fine. In M. T. Berger & K. Guidroz (Eds.), The intersectional approach: Transforming the academy through race, class, and gender (pp. 61–78). University of North Carolina Press. Hoffart, A. R. (2021). Intersectional intersectionality? Interpretative politics in metacommentaries on intersectionality. Örebro University. Husu, L. (2001). On metaphors on the position of women in academia and science. NORA, 9(3), 172–181. Jorba, M., & Rodó-Zárate, M. (2019). Beyond mutual constitution: The properties framework for intersectionality studies. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 45(1), 175–200. Jordan-Zachery, J. S. (2007). Am I a black woman or a woman who is black? A few thoughts on the meaning of intersectionality. Politics & Gender, 3(2), 254–263. Ken, I. (2008). Beyond the intersection: A new culinary metaphor for race-class-gender studies. Sociological Theory, 26(2), 152–172. Ken, I., & Helmuth, A. S. (2021). Not additive, not defined: Mutual constitution in feminist intersectional studies. Feminist Theory, 22(4), 575–604. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980/2003). Metaphors we live by. University of Chicago Press. Lee, K. (2012). Rethinking with Patricia Hill Collins: A note toward intersectionality as interlocutory interstitiality. The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 26(2), 466–473. Lutz, H. (2014). Intersectionality’s (brilliant) career: How to understand the attraction of the concept? Working Paper Series, ‘Gender, Diversity and Migration’, (1), Faculty of Social Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, 1–19. Lykke, N. (2006). Intersectionality – a useful concept for feminist theory? In T.-S. Pavlidou (Ed.), Gender studies: Trends/tensions in Greece and other European countries (pp. 151–160). Zitis. Lykke, N. (2010). Feminist studies: A guide to intersectional theory, methodology and writing. Routledge. Moratti, S. (2020). What’s in a word? On the use of metaphors to describe the careers of women academics. Gender and Education, 32(7), 862–872. Morgan, G. (1986/2006). Images of organization. SAGE Publications. Nash, J. C. (2014). Institutionalizing the margins. Social Text, 32(1), 45–65. Puar, J. K. (2012). “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”: Becoming-intersectional in assemblage theory. philoSOPHIA, 2(1), 49–66. Rodó-Zárate, M., & Jorba, M. (2022). Metaphors of intersectionality: Reframing the debate with a new proposal. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 29(1), 23–38. Smiet, K. (2014). “Transatlantic cross-pollination”: 30 years of Dutch feminist theorizing on race and racism. Frame, 27(2), 29–47. Sobchack, V. (2006). A leg to stand on: Prosthetics, metaphor, and materiality. In M. Smith & J. Morra (Eds.), The prosthetic impulse: From a posthuman present to a biocultural future (pp.  17–41). MIT Press. Staunæs, D. (2003). Where have all the subjects gone? Bringing together the concepts of intersectionality and subjectification. NORA, 11(2), 101–110. Staunæs, D., & Søndergaard, D. M. (2012). Intersectionality: A theoretical adjustment. In R. Buikema, G. Griffin & N. Lykke (Eds.), Routledge advances in feminist studies and intersectionality:


Amund Rake Hoffart Theories and methodologies in postgraduate feminist research: Researching differently (pp. 45–59). ­ Routledge. Sullivan, S. (2001). Living across and through skins: Transactional bodies, pragmatism, and feminism. Indiana University Press. Wekker, G. (2009). The arena of disciplines: Gloria Anzaldúa and interdisciplinarity. In R. Buikema & I. van der Tuin (Eds.), Doing gender in media, art and culture (pp. 54–69). Routledge. Yuval-Davis, N. (2006). Intersectionality and feminist politics. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3), 193–209. Yuval-Davis, N. (2007). Intersectionality, citizenship and contemporary politics of belonging. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 10(4), 561–574.


12 INTERSECTIONALITY AND DIVERSITY Same or Different? Christa Binswanger

This is why, at the Gorki theatre, we talk about radical diversity and about difference that needs to be endured. We need to answer the all-decisive question: who defines who is allowed to be part of the game and who is not? Shermin Langhoff, 2020 (transl. CB) This chapter discusses similarities and dissimilarities between the concepts diversity and intersectionality. Both concepts are used to understand differences among human beings; correspondingly both diversity and intersectionality approach the question of the uniqueness of every human being through complex interplays of differences. Both concepts are considered as travelling concepts, as they originated in the US and were later developed further by scholars adapting them to the European context. Yet many scholars who employ the concept of intersectionality are critical of the concept of diversity and the practices associated with it. These researchers criticise the lack of attention to power imbalances and hierarchies: the figure of the white managerial feminist with a neoliberal agenda who stands for commodification and depoliticisation, for a lack of serious anti-discrimination attitudes, measures and outcomes in general, and for a lack of attention to racism in Europe in particular (Bilge, 2013; Davis, 2020). Inversely, intersectionality has been welcomed in certain strands of diversity studies where it has increasingly been taken up as an analytical framework conceptualising the complexity of simultaneous identity and subject positions (Atewologun, Sealy and Vinnicombe, 2016, p. 223). This contribution explores how the two concepts—intersectionality and diversity—could be mutually beneficial, while also pointing to theoretical, methodological and disciplinary obstacles that occur when the two concepts are brought together. Feminist perspectives on equality and difference serve as a starting point, allowing for critical reflections throughout the chapter. This mirrors my own academic trajectory and as such is the context from which this contribution is developed. Subsequently, I discuss the emergence of intersectionality within the field of feminist and gender studies, and notions of difference in migration studies. I then describe the emergence of the term ‘diversity’ in society. I turn after that to diversity in organisations, where diversity as a management strategy has gained considerable importance. I pay special attention to critical diversity studies, which have incorporated an 151

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intersectional critique of power dynamics in organisations to point to blind spots in many diversity concepts. I go on to discuss the mutual perception of diversity and intersectionality and finally, in the concluding section, return to the question of how intersectionality and diversity might be mutually beneficial.

Feminist Understandings of Equality and Difference in Western Societies Feminist Perspectives on Equality and Difference The paradoxical effects of equality and difference have long been discussed in feminist studies. In the title of her influential study Only Paradoxes to Offer, feminist historian Joan Scott quotes Olympe de Gouges, the famous late 18th-century French feminist pioneer (Scott, 1996). The French Revolution—like the Enlightenment in general—excluded women from political participation. Women, as Langhoff (2020) puts it in the motto introducing this chapter, were not “part of the game”. From 1789 until 1944, in France, full citizens with the right to vote were men. The exclusion of women from suffrage was attributed variously to the weakness of their bodies and minds, to the physical division of labour and to their emotional susceptibilities (Scott, 1996, p. ix). From the very beginning, French feminists fighting for political rights had to employ paradoxical arguments: […] in order to protest women’s exclusion, they had to act on behalf of women and so invoked the very difference they sought to deny. The terms of women’s exclusion from politics […] confronted feminists with an irresolvable dilemma. It has come to us in the form of debates around ‘equality’ or ‘difference’ (Scott, 1996, p. x) Scott highlights the fact that, once this dilemma was recognised and reflected, many French feminists took on the group identity attributed to them even as they refused its negative characteristics (ibid.). The dilemma—characterised by the simultaneous refusal and strategic acceptance of ‘equality’—meant (and still often means) adapting the norms proclaimed by those who already count as ‘equal’. This paradoxical dilemma has occupied the heart of Western emancipatory movements from the Enlightenment to current times. In Western societies, bourgeois concepts of equality and difference still deeply influence and shape discriminatory practices. Given the shared normative roots of gender with concepts of difference such as sexual orientation, race, class, disability, age and religion in the Enlightenment and developing bourgeois Western societies, it makes sense to begin by scrutinising these common origins. The feminist scholar Andrea Maihofer also underlines that the bourgeois understanding of equality is based on “the recognition of others as equals” (Maihofer, 2020, p. 2). If persons only gain equal rights if they are recognised as same or similar, then those who are perceived as fundamentally different can be discriminated against or even excluded from human rights. “In the bourgeois understanding of equality”, she notes “we thus encounter two differently weighted differences: firstly, differences that can be disregarded; and secondly, differences that disavow an individual as a human being and exclude them” (Maihofer, 2020, pp. 2–3). Since the beginnings of feminist theorising of difference, processes of differentiation have been problematised because of the implicit


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norm to which they point. In the Swiss context, for example, feminists have fought a long-lasting battle for women’s political rights. Women’s suffrage was not introduced until 1971, and gender equality has only been enshrined in Swiss law since 1981. In 1996 a specific law reinforced the first law by claiming to erase all forms of discrimination due to gender, such as the gender pay gap (EDI, 2021). This law can be considered as a feminist hallmark for Switzerland: finally, equal opportunities seemed to be truly guaranteed by legislation. At the same time, however, the traditional division of care responsibilities in family arrangements did not change. Day-care centres as well as care for the elderly are particularly expensive in Switzerland. Therefore, the impact of unpaid care-work on women is very high. In Switzerland today, adult women carry out on average twice the amount of unpaid care-work in comparison to men (EDI, 2021). They therefore cannot reach ‘similarity’ with the adult male worker in the labour market. The paradoxes due to unpaid care-work are still rarely addressed in equality discourses related to the Swiss labour market, which continues to claim to be ‘equal’ for all genders. From the point of view of normativity paradoxes, dilemmas and discriminatory practices occur when the division of gendered labour is transformed into gender stereotypes based on difference. Even if the law declares all people to be same, this sameness turns out to be the privilege of some: of those who meet the norm of the independent adult worker. The need for those who are perceived as ‘different’ to become ‘same’ in certain ways forms the core paradox of equality—not only in Switzerland, but in many societies that proclaim equal rights for all their citizens.

Equality and Difference from an Intersectional Perspective Since the late 1980s, feminist theorising has taken an “intersectional turn”. Intersectionality has travelled from the US to Europe and has become arguably the most promising perspective in feminist and gender studies “for developing complex epistemologies which can enable a critical approach to identity and identity politics” (Davis and Zarkov, 2017, p. 315). Intersectionality is used in feminist theory in diverse ways to understand differences in identity, power and agency (Davis and Zarkov, 2017). The need to consider more than one category of difference and to approach identities and subjects by a map of social structure that can account for both the privileged and the oppressed, the margins and the centre, has become a broad consensus in feminist theorising (Davis, 2020, p. 119). Even if certain debates among US and European scholars are marked by dissonance (Bilge, 2013; Davis, 2020), the intersectional paradigm lays the groundwork in most current gender and feminist studies to approaching the complexity of inequality and discrimination, enabling paradoxes of equality and difference to be addressed as highly complex. Looking again at the example above of distribution of care-work in Switzerland, an intersectional perspective also takes into consideration how differences within the group of women play out. This perspective allows for a more adequate understanding of the problems related to gendered care-work as it points to a further division of gendered labour: more and more middleclass Swiss women delegate low paid care-work to migrant care-workers—mostly women from Eastern European countries of origin (Schwiter, Strauss and England, 2018, p. 4). In this way, care-work remains female, building on stereotypical perceptions of womanhood as caregiving and thus on a presumed, generalised female ‘similarity’. Care-migrants are mostly low-paid, with precarious status, and often engage in circular migration (Schwiter


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et al., 2018; Schilliger, 2019). When considering paid and unpaid female care-work, an intersectional perspective enables to address discrimination and inequality among women, as well as the paradoxical nature ingrained in it: female migrant care-workers are assigned to subordinate, low-paid positions, but their income may still be higher than in their country of origin. This contradictory position is embedded in the asymmetrical distribution of resources on a global scale, thus transnational social inequality marks the complexity of their subject position as an employee (Lutz, 2018). Intersectionality allows for a deeper understanding of such paradoxical outcomes of dependence/independence and hierarchical positioning of women, addressing the asymmetrical transnational embeddedness of caremigrants. In the next paragraph, I take a closer look at migration studies and the theorising of equality and difference within this frame.

Understanding Equality and Difference in Migration Studies Paradoxes of equality and difference also shape questions concerning cultural recognition in migration studies. For example, Salzbrunn underscores that: “When minorities—that are to be protected—are named, this inevitably occurs from the viewpoint of the majority, who claim for themselves the power of defining the norm and that, which deviates from the norm” (Salzbrunn, 2013, p. 32). Thus, the paradoxical dilemma of equality and difference is characterised by the dominance of those who define who is part of the norm and who is considered as deviating from it. The above-mentioned asymmetrical distribution of resources is accompanied by an asymmetrical recognition of differences attributed to culture. In Paradoxes of Cultural Recognition Gorashi, Hylland Eriksen and Alghasi (2009) discuss the intensification of transnational connectedness in the 21st century: “Migration, globalization, new communication technologies, international, and increasingly intercontinental tourism, work to create shared European identities and public spheres, intensify identity politics among minorities” (2009: 1). Analysing societal changes through migration and globalisation in Europe, the paradoxical nature of sameness and difference becomes especially salient when attributed to culture. From a critical perspective, culture as a category should be taken as a situational, contextual, and changeable construction, rather than as an entity that reflects the essence of different cultures (Ghorashi et al., 2009: 7). This approach takes into account that “the ways in which individuals perceive of their culture and give meaning to it are diverse and variable. People are capable of criticizing their cultural habitus and of opening themselves up to innovation and supplementation of new cultural elements” (ibid.). Shared European identities can thus only be captured in paradoxical terms: recognising difference in terms of the meaning given to it by those who are perceived as ‘other’ forms the ground for the construction of a ‘shared European identity’ that is open for new cultural elements, and is thus never fixed. Scott (1996), Gorashi et al. (2009), Salzbrunn (2013), Lutz (2018), and Maihofer (2020) many others point to the need for reflections based on the paradoxical effects of inclusion and exclusion as well as the paradoxes of equality and difference related to sexism, racialisation, orientalism (Said, 1978) and occidentalism (Dietze, Brunner and Wenzel, 2009) rooted in the colonial history of Western societies. Certain contexts ‘normalise’ certain differences, as long as they can become part of ‘similarity’. Thus, when the paradoxical nature of similarity remains unnoticed, discriminatory practices can turn into blind spots. l now move on to diversity in order to set the ground for a comparison to intersectionality. 154

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Diversity in Society The black civil rights movement was decisive for the emergence of the term ‘diversity’. Diversity was first used in the 1978 case of the Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke (438 U.S. 265, cited by Salzbrunn, 2013, p. 30). Here private US-American universities successfully defended the promotion of race-defined minorities (Salzbrunn, 2013, p. 30). Subsequently, diversity concepts were introduced by companies and universities in the US in the late 1970s to manage an increasingly diverse society and workforce in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and (dis)ability (Reuschke, Salzbrunn and Schönhärl 2013, p. 11). Thus, the introduction of diversity policies in companies and universities focussed on antidiscrimination measures to increase the participation of people of colour. Diversity as an expression of multiculturalism was used from the 1980s onwards to frame minority cultural practices, representations and supportive measures, whereby assimilation as a claim was rejected (Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2019). The term ‘super-diversity’ was developed to depict the complexity of societal structures, migration patterns, representations of perceived differences, experiences of diversity, and related practices in social interaction (Vertovec, 2007). Diversity gained attention in the field of social, migration and urban studies from the 1990s onwards (Salzbrunn, 2013). For example, the European Union launched ‘The European Capital of Culture initiative’ to highlight the diversity of European culture, and debates about ethnic entrepreneurship in urban contexts gained importance (Reuschke et al., 2013, pp. 11–12). Nowadays, multiculturalism and related diversity policies attract considerable criticism (Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2019, p. 184 ff.). The term diversity is now often used to replace policies that were earlier framed as multiculturalism (Schiller, 2017). Vertovec and Wessendorf reflect on current cultural diversity discourses in Europe in the light of the paradoxes in notions of (cultural) difference. These debates are caught up in a conundrum: on the one hand, needing to foster participation, representation and public services and, on the other hand, realising that this often leads to stigmatisation and exclusion (2019, p. 190). Since the 1990s, diversity has gained significant influence in management, characterised as a “late-twentieth-century epochal shift” replacing anti-discrimination and affirmative action (Nkomo, Bell, Roberts, Joshi and Thatcher, 2019, p. 500). Nkomo et al. shed critical light on current developments in the US: they urgently call for new ways to theorise diversity as they consider US society to be at a critical juncture: despite the adoption of valuing diversity and inclusion perspectives, in the field of management diversity is still “underprepared and ill-equipped to theorize the proliferation of categorical exclusion, dehumanizing biases and discrimination” (Nkomo et al., 2019, p. 511). In the following section, I turn to diversity concepts in organisations. In line with critical management scholars such as Nkomo, Bell, Roberts, Joshi and Thatcher, intersectionality scholars most often perceive of diversity management pertaining to organisations in critical terms. In taking up this critique, I aim to contribute to a more nuanced perception of the vast field of diversity management studies and practices. First, I discuss the genealogy and the use of the category of difference regarding diversity in organisational studies, and I then turn to critical diversity studies.

Diversity and Organisations In the 1980s, the concept of diversity also emerged in organisational studies and human resources management in the context of the Workforce 2000 report (Johnston and Packer, 155

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1987, p. xiii, cited by Zanoni, Janssens, Benschop and Nkomo, 2010, p. 12). This report pointed to the rapidly increasing diversity of the US workforce and to the need to develop managerial strategies to handle it (Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 12). Nkomo et al. hold that this report deepened the already growing difficulties for organisations to sustain affirmative action, anti-discrimination and equal opportunity justification. It was published by a conservative think tank, which predicted that by the year 2000 racial and ethnic minorities and women would make up a majority of the net new entrants into the US labour force (2019, p. 501). By the end of the 1980s, a shift in framing diversity could be identified: diversity was by then predominantly used in these fields to describe employees’ different capacities in order to enhance organisations’ performance (Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 9; Benschop, 2016; Claes, 2019, p. 38; Nkomo et al., 2019, p. 501). The so-called business case based on concrete economic goals to be realised by diversity practice and resulting in an ‘added value’ characterises this shift (Mensi-Klarbach, 2019, p. 82). From a feminist perspective, this shift marks a significant backlash: accompanied by a rhetoric of individual rights, agency and freedom, it denied racial minorities (particularly African Americans) and women’s access to opportunities on the labour market and in private spaces (Nkomo et al., 2019, p. 501). Furthermore, diversity in organisations distinguishes between visible or ‘surfacelevel diversity’ and non-visible or ‘deep-level diversity’: Surface-level diversity refers to attributes that are easily observed by others. Gender, age and race or ethnicity [..s]ome physical disabilities might also be visible. […] Deeplevel diversity refers to attributes that are not immediately apparent to onlookers. These include sexual orientation, invisible disabilities […] social class, educational and functional background, personality characteristics, values, attitudes and beliefs. (Beauregard, 2019, p. 156–157, emphasis in the original) From a critical feminist point of view, the valuing of “deep-level” differences featured attributes such as personality, knowledge and skills that emphasised individual capacities and downplayed experiences of marginalisation on the “surface-level” (Nkomo et al., 2019, p. 501). Reflecting the category of difference in diversity management critically and building on a meta-analysis of diversity management literature, Harrison and Klein developed a general model that defines difference as follows: “We use ‘diversity’ to describe the distribution of differences among the members of a unit with respect to a common attribute, X. […] A unit is not diverse per se. Rather, it is diverse with respect to one or more specific features of its members” (Harrison and Klein, 2007, p. 1200, emphasis in the original). By this definition, difference is always related to a certain unit and is thus de-essentialised and contextualised. Still, as the phrase “common attribute X” shows, there is a clear unmarked position that is not considered as diverse—and there are distributions of differences among those persons who are considered diverse. Thus, even if diversity for Harrison and Klein is theorised as a group construct, individuals and their experiences are the focus of most diversity research. Furthermore, focussing on diversity as a business case, diversity studies from the 1990s onward have tended to investigate single categories of difference in isolation of others. This reductionist approach has the effect that categories of difference 156

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such as social class (Martin and Côté, 2019) or sexual orientation (Bendl and Hofmann, 2015) remain mostly unnoticed. In addition, there is a trend to make use of social psychology at a microlevel (Nkomo, 2019, p. 502). Social psychology often builds on cognition, especially on unconscious bias theory. Unconscious bias theory points out that stereotypical perceptions of others are fundamental to human sense-making. Categorisation is seen as a tool to simplify and guide actions, to order a complex world, to offer coping strategies and to structure experience (Risberg and Pilhofer, 2018, p. 134; Banton, 2011). Iris Bohnet, a well-known scholar in the field, holds for example: “Matching people to existing social categories helps us quickly make sense of the world, sizing up and classifying people based on our experience. In short, we are economizing our cognitive efforts” (Bohnet, 2016, p. 35). In aiming to increase the number of women in leadership positions, Bohnet has developed intervention tools to overcome unconscious biases during recruitment. She builds on empirical results that prove inequalities and thus support the need for action. As such, her promotion of women can be considered as feminist endeavour. But many of the above-mentioned problems remain unnoticed by referring to cognition and the unconscious: how about women from social backgrounds that never come close to realm of leadership? How about colour-blindness in leadership positions? How about struggles and experiences of injustice? Can they be voiced if unequal treatment is based on “quickly making sense of the world”? As unconscious-bias trainings treat gender in dichotomous and essentialising manners, they are marked by blind spots hindering a fair working environment. As a reaction to simplistic understandings of equality and difference, critical diversity studies have evolved in organisational studies since the mid-1990s.

Critical Diversity Studies Critical diversity studies reacted to the dominant positive and empowering diversity rhetoric that generalised the business case (Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 9). They question the instrumental view of difference and the belief in fair meritocratic organisations which disregard unequal power relations. They “share, at the core, a non-positivistic, non-essentialist understanding of diversity […] as socially (re)produced in on-going, context-specific processes” (Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 10). Early critical diversity studies mostly drew from critical social sciences, focussing on power hierarchies. However, most strands soon turned to social psychology, thus focussing attention on the impact of race/ethnicity or gender on individual work-and-career-related outcomes (e.g., access to mentoring, job satisfaction, performance evaluation, promotion opportunities and income). Such studies (Cox and Nkomo, 1990; Greenhaus et al., 1990; Thomas, 1990; Dreher and Cox, 1997, cited in Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 11) found extensive evidence of unequal treatment and provided proof of discrimination based on gender or ethnicity/race. As such, they were important to raise awareness of inequalities in the workplace. At the same time, the core paradox of re-essentialising preestablished, and mostly binary categories in those research designs first remained unnoticed. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the 21st century, critical diversity literature scholars developed three fundamental criticisms of cognition-based social psychology studies: first, that they rely on a positivistic ontology of identity; second, that they downplay the role of organisational and societal contexts in shaping the meaning of diversity; and third, that their theoretical account of power is inadequate (Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 13–14). Critical diversity management (represented by Zanoni et al., 2010; Benschop, 2016; Risberg and Pilhofer, 2018; Janssens and Steyaert, 2019; Nkomo et al., 2019; Romani, 157

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Holck and Risberg, 2019) has now developed a theoretically induced critical questioning of formerly established explanations and categorisations. In order to engage with alternative descriptions, vocabularies, voices and practices, and to stimulate social change within organisation, it looks out for more agentic perspectives that build on “reconstructive reflexivity” (Zanoni et al., 2010, p. 19) and “practice-based diversity” (Janssens and Steyaert, 2019). It goes beyond the “happy diversity discourse” in order to intervene against the taming of diversity which is considered to hinder the systemic rejection of inequalities in organisations (Benschop, 2016, p. 16); and it points to new discriminatory practices based on “benevolent discrimination”, thereby highlighting the need for a critical and self-reflective assessment of measures deployed by HR representatives (Romani et al., 2019). Many of these critical scholars have turned to intersectionality. In what follows, I take a closer to look at how intersectionality is taken up in critical diversity management.

The Diversity Perspective on Intersectionality Most critical diversity scholars employ the concept of intersectionality to focus on power, hierarchies and related discriminations (Holvino, 2010; Zanoni et al., 2010; Özbilgin, Beauregard, Tatli and Bell, 2011; Ahonen and Tienari, 2015; Atewologun et al., 2016; Benschop, 2016; Hearn and Louvrier, 2016; Primecz, Mahadevan and Romani, 2016; Risberg and Pilhofer, 2018; Romani et al., 2019). “An intersectional approach to diversity management might suggest building on the simultaneity of difference(s), seeking to avoid constructing generalisations about groups such as women or ethnic minorities” (Holvino, 2010). Intersectionality makes it possible to consider race, gender, ethnicity, class, nationality and sexuality as simultaneous processes of identity, institutional and social practice; it also offers more complete and accurate analyses, which can be transferred into policy change applications (Holvino, 2010, p. 266). This understanding perceives differences within organisations as constructed, for instance, in how work is organised (Hearn and Louvrier, 2016) in that such an organisation itself impacts on the lived experience of difference at the workplace. Corporate diversity programmes lacking an intersectional perspective might view women, ethnic minorities, and persons with a disability, etc. each as a homogeneous group. Accordingly, such programmes may, for example, take into account only gender in isolation when promoting gender equality. In contrast, as Hearn and Louvrier argue, an “intersectional diversity program would highlight not only gender but also intersections with age, ethnicity, and other differences and divisions” (Hearn and Louvrier, 2016, p. 11). There is, however, only minimal consensus regarding exactly how to conduct organisational research based on intersectionality. In their overview of approaches to conducting intersectional research, Atewologun et al. (2016) include critiques of descriptive approaches of individual-level treatments of intersectionality. They thereby advance discussions on mainstreaming intersectionality (Dhamoon, 2011) and on fulfilling its potential contribution to organisation studies (Holvino, 2010). Much intersectional diversity and difference research is conceptual and theoretical, suggesting how intersectionality could contribute to the understanding of diversity and difference in organisations. Many of these theorists argue, for example, for multiple rather than single category research (Özbilgin et al., 2011) or advocate adding to what have become established categories of intersection (Holvino, 2010; Prasad, 2012). 158

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In sum, the number of empirical diversity and difference studies using intersectional analyses is growing. Intersectionality makes it possible to untangle and change the impact that experienced differences of various social categories may have on everyday practices in organisations and identify and link internal organisational processes with external societal processes (Holvino, 2010). Hearn and Louvrier contend that intersectionality is a more dynamic field than diversity in many management studies—both empirically and theoretically—and can therefore counteract the to-date more static conceptualisations of diversity in management (Hearn and Louvrier, 2016, p. 76). In the following section the perspective is turned around: how might diversity as a concept fit into intersectionality studies?

The Intersectional Perspective on Diversity For a long time, many critical intersectionality scholars perceived of the diversity approach with considerable scepticism. Fields of enquiry such as postcolonial, feminist and queer studies that use intersectional theories and methodologies suspected—and often still suspect—the theoretical and methodological genealogies of diversity approaches. Furthermore, they criticised the pro-business view that diversity enhances organisational performance. Critical feminist intersectional perspectives bemoan(ed) the lack of attention to power as it relates to the chosen categories. Nevertheless, critical feminist interventions in diversity studies and the turn to intersectionality and to social science-oriented research have started to proliferate within diversity studies, as I will illustrate below in a discussion on radical diversity. In a study going back to 2007, Sara Ahmed argues that the model of cultural diversity in discourses about multicultural nations evoked powerful critique by feminist postcolonial theorists like Ang and Stratton (1994) and Bhabha (1994). Too often this model reified difference as something that exists in the bodies of others: “if difference is something ‘they are’, then it is something we ‘can have’” (Ahmed, 2007, p. 235). Thus, discourses about the culture of ‘others’ were instrumentalised to justify the literal appropriation of those ‘bodies of others’ into ‘useful parts’ of the own culture. Additionally, with regard to the proliferation of diversity into higher education, where it mostly replaced equal opportunities, Ahmed takes up the critique that “a managerial focus on diversity works to individuate difference and to conceal the continuation of systematic inequalities within universities” (Ahmed, 2007, p. 236). She emphasises the fact that the word diversity is detached from histories of struggle and as such detached from a referent (Ahmed, 2007, pp. 235, 239). However, according to Ahmed, this detachment opens up the possibility to make the word do the work it should do, “re-attaching the word to the other words that embody the histories of struggle against social inequalities” (Ahmed, 2007, p. 254). Thus, if (critical) diversity turns to histories of struggle and gives voice to oppression and injustice ingrained in categories of difference such as gender, race and class, it can initiate change towards transcultural societies that aim to realise just workplaces. With regard to current developments, the concept of inclusion might point in a productive direction (Nishii, 2013). Inclusion can be used to combine intersectionality and diversity in promising ways. Nkomo advocates that inclusion entails “dropping all assumptions we hold about differences” (Nkomo, 2014, p. 587): an inclusive work environment enables employees to develop mutual understanding beyond bias, assumptions and stereotypes. The unmarked norm needs 159

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to be dropped if words such as gender, race and class are reattached to the struggles and injustices that mark their histories. In contrast to mainstream diversity, which “too often ends up being largely reduced to incremental change, inclusion requires second-order or radical change—the need to break the frame” (Nkomo, 2014, p. 585f).

Conclusion Comparing intersectionality and diversity, both similarities and differences can be identified: as a starting point I argued that both concepts emerged in the context of the black civil rights movement in the US (Lutz et al., 2011; Salzbrunn, 2013; Davis and Zarkov, 2017; Nkomo, 2019). And like intersectionality, diversity as a travelling concept encountered specific European conditions and thus evolved its analytical and methodological reach under those circumstances (Claes, 2019; Davis, 2020). But by the end of the 1980s, other than intersectionality, diversity discourses shifted from anti-discrimination to a business rationale, to an ‘added value’ through diversity. This shift provoked considerable critique from intersectional and feminist perspectives, as it tended to downplay marginalisation and oppression regarding differences such as gender, race, ethnicity, class, nationality and sexuality—topics that are at the heart of intersectionality research. So, how can the similarities and differences of intersectionality and diversity be addressed in ways that view them as mutually beneficial? Critical diversity scholars intervened against the many blind spots inherent in the business rationale. They call(ed) for integrating intersectionality theoretically and methodically into diversity management in institutions and organisations. Integrating intersectionality in diversity studies enables the avoidance of constructing generalisations about groups such as ‘women’ or ‘ethnic minorities’ (Holvino, 2010); it draws attention to the power dimension that is already ingrained in such categorisations (Risberg and Pilhofer, 2018); it opens up the possibility to re-attach diversity to the other words that embody the histories of struggle against social inequalities (Ahmed, 2007); it counteracts the to-date more static conceptualisation of diversity in diversity management (Hearn and Louvrier, 2016); it looks out for more agentic perspectives, in order to engage with alternative descriptions, vocabularies, voices, and practices, and to stimulate social change within organisations (Zanoni et al., 2010; Janssens and Steyaert, 2019). Instead of referring to “deep-level diversity”, which is considered fluid, changeable and malleable and often uses the rhetoric of choice, intersectional critique highlights that fluidity equally needs to be contextualised in powerful social structures and their limiting effects (Salzbrunn, 2014, p. 116). Intersectionality can serve to understand the simultaneity of race, gender, and class in structuring inequality in organisations, and so becomes a bridging element in the multilevel approach (Nkomo et al., 2019, p. 510). Conversely, I would also like to argue that diversity can be made fruitful in the field of intersectionality studies. Since the beginning of the 21st century, diversity has made considerable inroads into the social sciences and scholarship on culture, notwithstanding many critical scholars’ scepticism. By expanding the concept to super-diversity, Vertovec (2007), for example, has contributed to its dissemination in migration and urban studies, raising awareness of the complexity of migration patterns. In the workplace, diversity understood as relationality within a certain unit radically de-essentialises notions of identity and highlights the possible influence on identity-constructions by workplace practices (Acker, 2006;


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Harrison and Klein, 2007). Not only in relation to those framed as unmarked norm, but also in relation to the organisation, self-understanding might shift due to the lived experience of difference at a workplace (Hearn and Louvrier, 2016; Romani and Binswanger, 2019). Embedding the notion of identity in the history and self-understanding of individuals and in the construction of difference through working experience can broaden the scope in intersectional analysis of identity-constructions. A case in point is the motto to this chapter, in which Shermin Langhoff calls her methodology as director of the Berlin Gorki Theatre “radical diversity”. In her political postmigrant theatre, she challenges what she calls “bourgeois ways of perception” to make stories about racism, sexism and classism heard by the privileged audiences of the Gorki Theatre (Langhoff, 2020, p. 20, transl. CB). Her productions give voice and space to actors and their stories that address war, flight, migration, racism, and sexism, re-attaching diversity to the histories of struggle in her actors’ voices. In this case, radical diversity as a methodology enables us to experience paradoxes of equality and difference within the shared space of the theatre: cultural recognition becomes a practice in the shared experience of voicing and listening to histories of struggle without erasing equality and difference of performers and audience. Paradoxes of equality and difference inherent in identity-constructions are not dissolved in such experiences that break the frame of societal hierarchies. They remain, as Gudrun-Axeli Knapp (2003) once put it, a productive ground that continues to drive reflections on how to deal with differences, and the injustice that arises from them, and how to include those who are perceived as different. Intersectionality scholars and diversity scholars can mutually learn from each other by taking a second look. To recognise the paradox of equality and difference might serve as common ground to break the frame of the Western bourgeois ideal of the autonomous and self-sufficient subject. If understandings of difference are reflected upon with regard to power relations, this means taking their embeddedness in social and cultural hierarchies into account. If differentiations are left open to change and fluidity—be it within organisations or in society—this means keeping subjectivities open to change. If visible as well as invisible dimensions of belonging become de-essentialised and contextualised, this means acknowledging the complexity of multiple levels constructing diverse subjects. As such, these subjects are able to open themselves up to each other and to create communalities that acknowledge diversity. Referring to both—intersectionality and diversity—in self-reflective and critical terms might contribute to the radical turn critical scholars in feminist, intersectional, migration and diversity studies envision: to allow all members of our transnational societies to be part of the game.

References Acker, J. (2006). “Inequality regimes: Gender, class, and race in organizations.” Gender and Society, 20(4) (pp. 441–464). Ahmed, S. (2007). “The language of diversity.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(2) (pp. 235–256). Ahonen, P. and Tienari, J. (2015). “Ethico-politics of diversity and its production.” In Pullen, A. and Rhodes, C. (Ed.) The Routledge Companion to Ethics, Politics and Organizations. London: Routledge (pp. 271–287). Ang, I. and Stratton, J. (1994). “Multicultural imagined communities: Cultural difference and national identity in Australia and the USA.” Continuum: Australian Journal of Media and Culture, 9(2) (pp. 124–158).


Christa Binswanger Atewologun, D., Sealy, R. and Vinnicombe, S. (2016). “Revealing intersectional dynamics in organizations: Introducing ‘Intersectional Identity Work’.” Gender, Work and Organization, 23(3) (pp. 223–247). Banton, M. (2011). “A theory of social categories.” Sociology (Oxford), 45(2) (pp. 187–201). Beauregard, T. A. (2019). “Diversity in teams.” In Mensi-Klarbach, H. and Risberg, A. (Eds.) Diversity Management in Organizations, Concepts and Practices, Second Edition. London: Macmillan (pp. 152–179). Bendl, R. and Hofman, R. (2015). “Queer perspectives fueling diversity management discourse: Theoretical and empirical-based reflections.” In Bendl, R., Bleijenbergh, I, Henttonen, E. and Mills, A. J. (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Diversity in Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press (pp. 218–234). Benschop, Y. (2016). “The dubious power of diversity management.” In Gröschl, S. (Ed), Diversity in the Workplace: Multi-disciplinary and International Perspectives. Farnham: Routledge (pp. 15–28). Bhabha, H. (1994). The Location of Culture. London: Routledge. Bilge, S. (2013). “Intersectionality undone. Saving intersectionality from feminist intersectionality studies.” Du Bois Review 10(2) (pp. 405–424). Bohnet, I. (2016). What Works: Gender Equality by Design. Second printing. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Claes, M. T. (2019). “Diversity in Europe: Its development and contours”. In Mensi-Klarbach, H. and Risberg, A. (Eds.) Diversity Management in Organizations, Concepts and Practices, Second Edition. London: Macmillan (pp. 31–66). Davis, K. (2008). “Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful.” Feminist Theory 9(1) (pp. 67–86). Davis, K. and Zarkov, D. (2017). “EJWS retrospective on intersectionality”. European Journal of Women’s Studies 24(4) (pp. 313–320). Davis, K. (2020). “Who owns intersectionality? Some reflections on feminist debates on how theories travel.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 27(2) (pp. 113–127). Dhamoon, R. K. (2011). “Considerations on mainstreaming intersectionality.” Political Research Quarterly, 64(1) (pp. 230–243). Dietze, G., Brunner, C. and Wenzel, E. (Eds.) (2009). “Kritik des Okzidentalismus. Transdisziplinäre Beiträge zu (Neo-)Orientlismus und Geschlecht.” Bielefeld: transcript. Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern (EDI) (2021). Gleichstellung von Mann und Frau. Retrieved from Gorashi, H., Hylland Eriksen, T. and Algashi, S. (2009). “Introduction.” In Algahsi, S., Hylland Eriksen, T. and Gorashi, H. (Eds.) Paradoxes of Cultural Recognition. Perspectives from Northern Europe, Research in Migration and Ethnic Relations Series. Farnham: Ashgate (pp. 1–15). Harrison, D. A. and Klein, K. J. (2007). “What’s the difference? Diversity constructs as separation, variety, or disparity in organizations.” Academy of Management Review, 32(4) (pp. 1199–1228). Hearn, J. and Lourvier, J. (2016). “Theories of difference, diversity, and intersectionality: What do they bring to diversity management?” In Bendl, R., Bleijenbergh, I., Henttonen, E. and Mills, A. J. (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Diversity in Organization. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, Incorporated (pp. 62–82). Holvino, E. (2010). “Intersections: The simultaneity of race, gender and class in organization studies.” Gender, Work and Organization, 17(3) (pp. 248–277). Janssens, M. and Steyaert, C. (2019). “A practice-based theory of diversity: Respecifying (in)equality in organizations.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (pp. 518–537). Knapp, G.-A. (2003). “Aporie als Grundlage: Zum Produktionscharakter der feministischen Diskurskonstellation.” In Knapp, G.-A. and Wetterer, A. (Eds.) Achsen der Differenz. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot (pp. 240–265). Langhoff, S. (2020). “Es ist wichtig, welche Geschichten die Avantgarde einer Gesellschaft hört”. Interview in WOZ (Die Wochenzeitung). Nr. 44, 29 October 2020 (pp. 20–21). Lutz, H. (2018) “Care migration: the connectivity between care chains, care circulations and transnational social inequality.” Current Sociology Monograph, 66(4) (pp. 577–589).


Intersectionality and Diversity: Same or Different? Lutz, H., Herrera Vivar, M. T. and Supik, L. (2011) (Eds.) Framing Intersectionality. Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies. London: Routledge. Maihofer, A. (2020). A critical approach to the concepts of diversity, difference, inclusion and equity. Retrieved from Maihofer_englisch.pdf Martin, S. R. and Côté, S. 2019. “Social class transitioners: Their cultural abilities and organizational importance.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (pp. 618–642). Mensi-Klarbach, H. (2019). “Diversity management: Historical development and different rationales.” In Mensi-Klarbach, H. and Risberg, A. (Eds.) Diversity Management in Organizations, Concepts and Practices, Second Edition. London: Macmillan (pp. 67–92). Nishii, L. H. (2013). “The benefits of climate for inclusion for gender-diverse groups.” Academy of Management Journal, 56(6) (pp. 1754–1774). Nkomo, S. M. (2014). “Inclusion: Old wine in new bottles?” In Ferdman, B. M. and Deane, B. M. (Eds.), Diversity at Work: The Practice of Inclusion. San Francisco, CA: Wiley (pp. 580–589). Nkomo, S. M., Bell, M. P., Roberts, L. M., Joshi, A. and Thatcher, S. M. B. (2019). “Diversity at a critical juncture: New theories for a complex phenomenon.” Academy of Management Review, 44(3) (pp. 498–517). Özbilgin, M. F., Beauregard, T. A., Tatli, A. and Bell, M. P. (2011). “Work–life, diversity and intersectionality: A critical review and research agenda.” International Journal of Management Reviews, 13(2) (pp. 177–198). Prasad, A. (2012). “Beyond analytical dichotomies.” Human Relations, 65(5) (pp. 567–595). Primecz, H., Mahadevan, J. and Romani, L. (2016). “Why is cross-cultural management scholarship blind to power relations? Investigating ethnicity, language, gender and religion in power-laden contexts.” International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 16(2) (pp. 127–136). Reuschke, D., Salzbrunn, M. and Schönhärl, K. (2013). “The economies of urban diversity. An introduction.” In Reuschke, D., Salzbrunn, M., and Schönhärl, K. (Eds.) The Economies of Urban Diversity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (pp. 1–24). Risberg, A., Mensi-Klarbach, H. and Hanappi-Egger, E. (2019). “Setting the scene for diversity management in organizations.” In Mensi-Klarbach, H. and Risberg, A. (Eds.) Diversity Management in Organizations, Concepts and Practices. Second Edition. London: Macmillan (pp. 3–29). Risberg, A. and Pilhofer, K. (2018). “Diversity and difference research: A reflection on categories and categorization.” Ephemera, Theory and Politics in Organization, 18(1) (pp. 131–148). Romani, L. and Binswanger, C. (2019). “Critical reflections on diversity management.” In MensiKlarbach, H. and Risberg, A. (Eds.) Diversity Management in Organizations, Concepts and Practices. Second Edition. London: Macmillan (pp. 305–332). Romani, L., Holck, L. and Risberg, A. (2019). “Benevolent discrimination: Explaining how human resource professionals can be blind to the harm of diversity initiatives.” In Organization, 26(3) (pp. 371–390). Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. 1st Vintage Books Ed. Salzbrunn, M. (2013). “The Concept of diversity in migration and urban studies.” In Reuschke, D., Salzbrunn, M., and Schönhärl, K. (Eds.) The Economies of Urban Diversity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (pp. 27–46). Salzbrunn, M. (2014). Vielfalt / Diversität. Bielefeld: transcript. Schiller, M. (2017). “Authenticity or skill-oriented individualism, neutrality or managerialism: diversity officers as modern public officials.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(10) (pp. 1662–1678). Schilliger, S. (2019). Pflegen ohne Grenzen. Polnische Pendelmigrantinnen in der 24-StundenBetreuung. Eine Ethnographie des Privathaushalts als globalisiertem Arbeitsplatz. [Doctoral dissertation. Philosophisch-historische Fakultät der Universität Basel]. Schwiter, K., Strauss, K. and England, K. (2018). “At home with the boss: Migrant live-in caregivers, social reproduction and constrained agency in the UK, Canada, Austria and Switzerland.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 43(3) (pp. 462–476). Scott, J. W. (1996). Only Paradoxes to offer. French Feminists and the Rights of Man. Cambridge, MA [etc.]: Harvard University Press.


Christa Binswanger Vertovec, S. (2007). “Super-diversity and its implications.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6) (pp. 1024–1054). Vertovec, S. and Wessendorf, S. (2019). “Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in Europe: An overview of issues and trends.” In Penninx, R., Berger, M. and Kraal, K. (Eds.) The Dynamics of Migration and Settlement in Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press (pp. 171–200). Web. Zanoni, P., Janssens, M., Benschop, Y. and Nkomo, S. (2010). “Unpacking diversity, grasping inequality: Rethinking difference through critical perspectives.” Organization, 17(1) (pp. 9–29).



The recent global Black Lives Matter uprisings and protests present the largest anti-racist mobilisations the world has ever seen. This movement has been shaped by black women, queer and transgender people and carried by mainly working class and working poor black people alongside this spectrum. It started in the US after the killing of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Dion Johnson, but went global within days. The protests crystallised around policing, and brutally laid bare what it means to live at the receiving end of policing. The way the protests have travelled from various USAmerican cities to other parts in the world like Germany and Italy, but also to countries in the Global South such as Nigeria and Brazil, further shows that this condition is in no way confined to the US. Quite the contrary: vulnerable and poor communities are standing in solidarity with black people in the US, but are also emphasising that policing unfolds as a violent and murderous condition and method of racial capitalism in their various respective contexts, too. Names of black people who lost their lives at the hands of police in the US are called out in concert with names of black people who lost their lives at the hands of police in other parts of the global African diaspora. These mobilisations have been marked by the language of intersectionality. It has been stressed (again) that not only black men experience violent policing. The role that black women and black non-binary people play in the movement, often on the frontlines, has also been emphasised. Chanting “All black lives matter” and “say their names”, protesters have challenged the exclusionary economy of perception, which often erases black women, nonbinary folks, black people with mental vulnerabilities and black migrants and refugees, as well as black people who live at the intersections of these systems of oppression and domination fostered by racial capitalism.1 The global struggles for black lives thus challenged a one-dimensional focus on policing and attend to the entanglements of oppressions—often described as intersectionality2 (sometimes more explicitly such as in the US or Europe, other times rather implicitly but still attending to entangled oppressions)—to understand and dismantle the multi-dimensionality of carceral systems. Simultaneously, these mobilisations have turned to abolition. For instance, “Defund, divest and abolish the police!”, an international rallying cry as well as a call for organisation, was shouted and argued at many protests and campaigns. However, as many activists, 165

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movements and activist scholars have argued, struggles to abolish the police are only part of a broader abolitionist movement and vision to build new institutions, socio-economic structures and relations, which do not depend on criminalisation and exploitation (Davis, 2003; Gilmore, 2022; Kaba, 2021). Historically, abolition dates back to the transnational struggles against enslavement (Davis, 2005; Du Bois, 1998; Robinson, 1983; Sinha, 2016) and colonial capitalism, and entailed the practices people drew on to create different worlds, often fugitive (Gilmore, 2007; Harney and Moten, 2013). Since the mid-20th century and the expansion of the carceral state against the background of neoliberal capitalist restructuring (Fassin, 2016; Wacquant, 2009) and the global turn towards securitisation (Sudbury, 2004), abolitionist movements and activist scholars have increasingly focussed on the expansion of carceral institutions such as prisons, policing, borders, and detention centres (Davis, 2005; Walia, 2021) as well as shifting relations of production and value, while especially focussing on the building of alternatives. Abolition therefore refers to a critical theory and social politics against systems of super-exploitation, carcerality and structural violence, while affirming theories and politics of radical transformation rooted in the various forms through which people are able to sustain their own lives and means of production (Du Bois, 1998; Gilmore, 2007). Put differently, although there is a range of strands, movements and theories of abolition (Rodríguez, 2018), abolition in its broadest sense entails the dismantling of oppressive structures and exploitative modes of production while simultaneously calling and building radical democratic institutions and structures for collective life and flourishing—the building of new societies. Following the global articulations of struggles for black lives as intersectional and abolitionist, this chapter discusses the relation between the genealogy of intersectionality and abolition. I argue that attending to the intersecting forms of oppression in their critiques and struggles against enslavement and colonial gendered capitalism has long shaped abolitionist thought and practice. In fact, many of the radical black feminist organisers who are often conceived as ‘forerunners’ of intersectionality (such as Sojourner Truth, Claudia Jones, Angela Y. Davis) were and are part of an abolitionist tradition. Against this background, it is somewhat surprising that much of the scholarship on intersectionality, especially within Europe, only marginally addresses and engages with abolition. Can intersectionality be grounded in the abolitionist critique of global workings of racial gendered capitalism and its current carceral conjuncture? What does intersectionality have to offer to abolitionist theories and politics? What can abolitionist thought and politics tell us about intersectionality? This chapter engages with these questions by drawing on exemplary accounts of the history of intersectionality in abolitionist analyses and practices. Further, by drawing on contemporary articulations of policing, I argue that intersectionality is helpful as a tool (not method or analytical framework) for analysing the interrelated forms of experiences of violence and for creating movements attentive to these. At the same time, abolition can serve, and is necessary, as a grounding for intersectionality, as a challenge to its neoliberal and managerial versions (as well as liberal versions that attend to simply reforming violent institutions) and liberal premises, which have been rightly critiqued by a range of antiracist and materialist feminist scholars in recent years (Bhandar, 2013; Bilge, 2013; Salem, 2018; Mitchell, 2013). My interest here is not ‘saving’ intersectionality from something, but to put it further to work for radical abolitionist thought and practice. I argue that what makes intersectionality or the analysis of entangled oppressions radical is the connection to abolition and its critique of racial gendered capitalism. By engaging with the abolitionist 166

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legacies of intersectionality (or what later will be referred to as such), this chapter urges intersectional scholars to address the current carceral conjuncture and its material relations. Moreover, abolition, as I argue, provides the theoretical framework that explains the sources of intersecting modes of violence instead of just their effects, as well as how possible alternatives might look. In the first part of this chapter, I sketch out the transnational genealogies of abolition from the times of enslavement to present articulations, in order to demonstrate the historical liaison between intersectionality and abolition. The next part looks at the contribution of intersectionality in understanding carceral systems by drawing on my analysis of policing blackness in Germany. The final part looks at how abolition can ground intersectionality in transnational and radical transformative politics.

Genealogies of Intersectionality as Genealogies of Abolition? Something that is often stressed in scholarship on intersectionality, is that intersectionality has a history that predates the term, and that the telling of these histories are themselves political endeavours (Collins and Bilge, 2016). Tracing the core ideas of intersectionality, its emergence is often located in radical black feminist traditions and Third World feminisms (Collins and Bilge, 2016; among many others). Social movement activisms of black socialist feminists and Chicana, Asian, Indigenous and Third World women activisms in the US and the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as in many parts of the Global South, are often emphasised (Collins and Bilge, 2016). These struggles have genealogies too—a reason why many gender studies and anti-racist theorists as well as political organisers locate the origins of intersectionality (though emphasising methodological differences), understood as an analytical and practical tool, in even earlier formations against colonialism and enslavement (McDuffie, 2011).3 These formations were deeply abolitionist. Against this background, it is surprising that the relation between intersectionality and abolition is not considered in much of the scholarship on intersectionality. A key intervention that is famously reiterated in the history of intersectionality is the work of 19th-century abolitionist, civil and women’s rights advocate Sojourner Truth. (Born into enslavement in 1797 and escaped in 1827, most of her children were sold on the basis of the plantation system.) The story is well known (Truth, 2020); let me briefly iterate some crucial points. Truth’s work is often introduced as a crucial historical account of black feminist struggle that demonstrates the multi-directionality of critiques of racial gendered capitalism, as well as the complicity and foundational omissions in alleged (and different) emancipatory movements, such as liberal white feminist movements, malecentred abolitionist movements, or more broadly left movements that do not consider the foundational role of racism and gender relations in the reproduction and accumulation of capital. In her famous speech Ain’t I a Woman?, Truth criticised the universal claim of the category women, which excluded black enslaved women from the narrative and glossed over the fact that the super-exploitation of black people through plantation economies was strongly gendered (Davis, 1971; Spillers, 1987). She simultaneously criticised the abolitionist movement for centring the experiences of black enslaved males (including the neglect of gendered intra-community violence), which excluded not only the perspectives of black enslaved women, but furthermore, or, in relation to these, the foundational role that gendered reproductive enslaved labour, alongside forced manual labour, played in the reproduction of plantation economies. Hence, Truth not only interrogated the exclusion or 167

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mere invisibility of black women from struggles for emancipation in the above-mentioned respective strands, she also pointed at an analysis of the gendered super-exploitation of black women under plantation capitalism. As a black women abolitionist, Truth did not rally for the reformation of the economic system of enslavement. Instead, her activism and advocacy were directed at the abolition of that system. Within the black radical tradition (Robinson, 1983) abolition stands for a theoretical perspective, method and transnational movement that dates back but is not limited to the (various) struggles against enslavement and colonialism. Abolition entails the global revolts of the enslaved (like the Haitian revolution and its travellings) and the freedom projects (Du Bois, 1998; Sinha, 2016), the anticolonial visions against colonisation, and the struggle for the creation of institutions, infrastructures and a social system not dependent on (super) exploitation, violence, and abandonment, but cherish life and well-being for all (Davis, 2005; Gilmore, 2007, 2017, 2022). Abolition must thus be understood in its international context: revolts, rebellions and struggles against enslavement not only happened on the plantations in the US, but already on the ships where enslaved people were deported (Mustakeem, 2016), on plantations in the Caribbean and South America (Cooper, 2006; James, 1989; Robinson, 1983; Sinha, 2016) as well as in European metropoles and later in the colonies (Fanon, 1963; Shilliam, 2015). In fact, as it is often stated, the abolitionist movement presents the first transnational resistance movement in history (Sinha, 2016). Radical abolitionists challenged the mode and process of surplus value production based on the super-exploitation of racialised and gendered labour, the unfree and less free labour, through enslavement and colonialism. Following Marxist analyses and approaches but simultaneously radically stretching (Fanon, 1963) these by analysing the racial implications of capitalism (as in the work of for instance W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Cedric Robinson, Ruth Wilson Gilmore), as well as the racialised order of the reproduction of production that anti-racist Marxist feminists have laid out (Bhattacharyya, 2018; Davis, 1983; Jones, 1949), abolitionist theorists and movements challenge the root causes of exploitation, domination, and violence. Abolition as ‘the undoing of bondage’ (Gilmore, 2017, p. 231) entailed world-making ‘not only as the abolition of slavery but also the liberation of all oppressed people’ (Sinha, 2016, p. 339) on a global scale, and encompasses the practices of what the black abolitionist sociologist and communist W.E.B. Du Bois has termed ‘abolition democracy’ (Davis, 2005; Du Bois, 1998).4 As Truth’s example shows, black enslaved women were actively engaged in abolitionist resistances. Her interventions are historically visible, but there are also forms of resistances which were rather hidden, and practised by the many whose names we do not know, such as slowing down work, poisoning slave holders, escaping, burning, and sabotaging crops, or developing methods of birth control as well as taking the lives of one’s own children to spare them from a life in bondage (Bonhomme, 2020; Davis, 1971; McKittrick, 2006). These various forms of resistances were accompanied by creating practices of care and alternative kinship, and by the creation of alternative commons such as fugitive communities (like the Maroon communities in Jamaica or quilombos in Brazil). Abolition has a long feminist history ranging from the revolts of the enslaved and the Haitian revolution, in which enslaved black women (such as Cécile Fatiman or Marie Sainte Dédée Bazile) played a crucial role that is often overlooked (Ehrmann, forthcoming); resistances which were dependent on the reproductive as well as productive labour of enslaved women as they and their labour laid the ground on which rebellions could happen.


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Truth is just one name in this long tradition connecting abolitionism and intersectionality. Harriet Tubman, a black female abolitionist activist (1822–1913), is another. Her abolitionist struggle led to the liberation of 750 enslaved people in the Combahee Ferry Raid during the Civil War in the US (Clinton, 2005). Tubman was also born into enslavement; she escaped through a network of escape routes, called the Underground Railroad, and afterwards organised the escape of dozens of people via that Railroad. Tubman was a landmark inspiration for the black lesbian feminist socialist Combahee River Collective, which is often referred to as a ‘forerunner’ of intersectionality. Another example of the legacy of abolition in black radical feminist thought is Anna Julia Cooper, a black feminist abolitionist activist, educator, and author (1858–1964), who emphasised the need to foster political movements from below, starting with the conditions of working-class and poor black women (May, 2004, 2008). Cooper was born into enslavement in the US South, and later became active as a teacher, civil and women’s rights advocate. She is often referred to as one of the first scholars of Black Feminism in the US (Guy-Sheftall, 2009), and one who acted in an intersectional way (ibid.). She was further active in the Pan-African movement and lived and organised in Paris for a longer time, where she also graduated from the Sorbonne with a dissertation on the Haitian Revolution in 1925 (a dissertation still often overlooked in comparison to C.L.R. James’ Black Jacobins, see May, 2008). There are countless other examples of black feminist abolitionists, who are often simultaneously referred to as ‘forerunners’ of intersectionality. However, as we can see with regard to these activists as well as with the various abolitionist revolutions and revolts coming from the Caribbean and South America, abolition was a global phenomenon (Bhambra, 2016; Du Bois, 1998). A crucial example for this international dimension is the work of Claudia Jones (1915– 1964), a Trinidad and Tobago-born black feminist, communist, journalist. and theorist, who migrated to the US as a child, and was herself imprisoned and deported by the US under the McCarthy-era because of her communist activism. Jones, also often described as a ‘forerunner’ of intersectionality (Salem, 2018), developed a decisive analysis of the conditions of black poor and working-class women under racial gendered capitalism through paying attention to their super-exploitation, exclusion from unions, marginalisation, and violence based on militarism as well as white nationalism (Burden-Stelly, 2019; Boyce Davies, 2008). She was also a member of the group ‘Sojourners for Truth and Justice’, and, thereby directly linked to radical black feminism (Boyce Davies, 2008, p. 34) as well as to abolition (as the reference to Sojourner Truth also shows). As Erik McDuffie explains, the group ‘anticipated radical black feminist organization of the 1970s and 1980s’ (cited in Boyce Davies, 2008, p. 36). Their programme was internationalist, struggling for the abolition of apartheid in South Africa and against the Korean War. It was shaped by the historical materialist approach of Marxism-Leninism, however grounded in the experiences and analysis of black poor and (super)exploited women in the US and abroad. The organising and knowledge production of black women, trans. and non-binary people in the 1970s and 1980s is another crucial account of the genealogy of abolition in black and Third World radical feminism. The work of the Combahee River Collective as well as the Third World Women’s Alliance not only stood in this tradition in terms of abolitionist figures (as can be seen in the explicit reference to the Combahee River as the river that Harriet Tubman crossed to free enslaved people), but also with regard to the politics of


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creating new relations. The visions and practices of black trans and queer people were especially important in this regard. The organising of Marsha P. Johnson, a veteran of the Stonewall rebellion, together with Sylvia Rivera demonstrates this (Snorton, 2017). They not only developed an inherently intersectional critique of the white liberal gay movement, as well as other social movements and their trans-exclusive politics, they further developed a crucial critique of policing and carcerality. Moreover, they developed and practised forms of community accountability as in the STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) collective so that multi-vulnerabilised groups such as queer and trans of colour houseless and poor youth could be protected. It is therefore of no surprise that queer and trans of colour theories and politics refer to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera as abolitionists (Stanley and Spade, 2012). The abolitionist collective Sylvia Rivera Law Project directly draws on the work of Johnson and Rivera. The work of outspoken abolitionist feminists and abolitionist collectives such as Angela Davis, Beth E. Richie, Mariame Kaba, INCITE! and so many more are part of this black feminist genealogy of abolition, often referred to in scholarship on intersectionality, but without explicitly engaging with their radical abolitionist approaches. Thus far, I have discussed theorists and political collectives with regard to historical forms of abolition and how they impact current collectives and scholars, many based in the US. But, as argued above, the US is only one site of black feminist abolition politics. In Europe, the Brixton Black Women’s Group (BWG) developed analyses on the condition of black and brown poor, migrant and working-class women. They emerged from the Black Power movements in Britain, which crystallised around struggles against racial capitalist (super) exploitation, which is also preserved and mobilised by and through policing (ElliottCooper, 2021; Mama, 1993; Narayan, 2019). State violence against poor black women, especially in the form of policing but also border regimes, was also criticised by many of the black feminist scholar activists, who are often named when referring to the articulations of intersectionality in Britain (such as Amina Mama). In Germany, the work and vision of the black feminist anti-war and labour activist Fasia Jansen (1929–1997) is also part  of an abolitionist tradition. Furthermore, self-organised feminist refugee collectives such as Women in Exile or the International Women Space, which over decades have explicitly struggled for the abolition of lagers/detention centres and borders, are a crucial cornerstone of abolition in the latter half of the 20th century. Recent movements and scholars are building on these analyses and struggles in their research on police, prison and border abolition in Europe (Danewid, 2021; Loick, 2018; Smythe, 2018; Stierl, 2021; Thompson, 2018, 2021). In Brazil as well as in other parts of the Global South, black and African feminists such as Marielle Franco (who was killed in 2018), Hakima Abbas, Wangui Kimari, movements such as Mães de Acari in Brazil, and many more are continuing the road towards abolition. Abolitionist struggles and organising around policing for instance is happening in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria (recently brought forward by groups in the #EndSARS movements) and many other parts of the world (Gathara, 2020; Sudbury, 2004). Within these struggles, punitive logics are read in the ‘circular movement’ that shapes systems of carceration and economies on a global scale (O’Connor, 2020; Sudbury, 2004), while also being attentive ‘to local contexts and changing sociopolitical landscapes rather than a onesize-fits-all solution’ (O’Connor, 2020). As can be seen with these examples of abolitionist organising and theorising, abolitionist analysis and activism continues beyond the formal end of enslavement and colonialism. New abolitionist movements focus on the more recent articulations of racial gendered 170

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capitalism such as mass incarceration, border fortification, policing, and militarism (Loick and Thompson, 2022) and thereby do not only struggle against exploitation but against abandonment as well (Gilmore, 2007). At the same time, these theories and politics can’t be reduced to the analysis and critiques of systems of punishment, as they address the entire social system. If unfinished liberation is the still-to-be-achieved work of abolition, then at the bottom what is to be abolished isn’t the past or its present ghost, but rather the process of hierarchy, dispossession, and exclusion that congeal in and as group differentiated vulnerability to premature death. (Gilmore, 2017, p. 228) As Fred Moten and Stefano Harney explain, abolition not only refers to the abolition of prisons, police, or further repressive systems, but also attends to the abolition of a society that is dependent on prisons, police, wage labour relations, etc. Abolition therefore means the ‘founding of a new society’ (Harney and Moten, 2013, p. 42). Departing from the analyses that institutions of racial gendered capitalism, such as the plantation, have been formally abolished but not the social system that fosters these institutions and systems in the first place (Davis, 2005), and therefore remodelled versions exist as well as new forms of exploitative modes and violence emerge, abolitionists call for a radical transformation of relations of production and environments. As Ruth Wilson Gilmore stresses, abolition is not merely about getting rid of violent institutions and systems, but rather about creating new relations, in ‘which life can flourish’ (2018). ‘Abolition is a presence’ (Gilmore, 2018) in a double sense as it (1) aims at building new worlds instead of just getting rid of exploitative systems, and (2) pays close attention to what practices are already there. Stated differently, abolition ‘is building the future from the present, in all of the ways we can’ (Gilmore, 2018).

Intersectionality as a Tool for Abolitionist Analysis Thus far, I have argued that abolition runs through the archive of intersectionality (how it is told) in a transnational sense on the basis of a discussion of abolitionist thought and politics in their older as well as newer forms. In this section, I demonstrate how the question of interlocking forms of domination continues to be crucial to abolitionist theories and practices by drawing on analysis of policing in the context of Germany (Thompson, 2021).5 In recent years, the issue of racist policing has gained more public attention in continental European contexts due to black, migrant, anti-racist, and people of colour organising (Belina, 2016; Dankwa et al., 2019, Kampagne für Opfer rassistischer Polizeigewalt, 2016; Thompson, 2018). What is nevertheless often marginalised in anti-racist organising is what we can call the intersectional dimension of racist policing (though black feminists have been pointing at this for decades) (Bruce-Jones, 2015; Dankwa et al., 2019; James, 2002; Ritchie, 2017; Thompson, 2018). Black people and people of colour who live at the intersections of oppressions are particularly vulnerable to (murderous) policing: poor black women and women of colour, queer and especially trans and non-binary black people and people of colour, black people and people of colour with dis/abilities, black people and people of colour rendered refugees and asylum-seekers, illegalised sex workers, etc. 171

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Let me delve into some cases from the German context to illustrate this throughout this section.6 On May 19 in 2011, Christy Schwundeck, a poor black migrant working class woman from Nigeria with German citizenship, was fatally shot from a two-metre distance by police in a job centre in Frankfurt am Main, while enquiring about her unemployment benefits. She had not received her unemployment benefits since May 1st and asked for a cash payment of ten euros, in accordance with prevailing legal norms, as she was without basic necessities. Her advisor at the job centre refused to give her the amount, and Schwundeck said that she would stay until she received her money. After the advisor’s supervisor was called, along with two security guards, the police were brought in. Schwundeck was the only black woman among the six other people present. An hour after arriving at the job centre, Schwundeck was shot in the stomach by one of the police officers, and died shortly after. The Frankfurt public prosecutor closed the preliminary investigations on the grounds of self-defence. The fact that there was no warning shot or use of pepper spray was not investigated. The case of N’deye Mareame Sarr in Germany, who was shot and killed by police on July 14 in 2001 in the house of her white ex-partner in Aschaffenburg, is a further manifestation of how racism, gender relations, migration status, and dis/ability intersect in policing (Bruce-Jones, 2015; Thompson, 2021) as a method for sustaining racial capitalism and its social order (Neocleous, 2000). Sarr wanted to pick up her two-year-old child from her white husband, from whom she had separated and with whom the child was supposed to stay over the weekend. However, her husband had brought the child to his parents and applied for sole child custody without letting Sarr know. A conflict ensued, during which he called the police. Both shots were fired shortly after police arrived. Sarr was one of the persons who was first shot by the new PEP (Polizei-Einsatz-Patrone), a special bullet with a mushroom effect, created to gun down very ‘violent attackers’—a label that sticks with blackness as a structural location of exploitation and abandonment. In both of these cases, several people were present and Schwundeck and Sarr were the only black women. Both were in a situation of crisis. And, in both cases, public prosecutors closed the case on the grounds of self-defence, as happens in such cases most of the time (which also speaks to the shortcomings of the logics of ‘innocence’). Police reports as well as media representations further described Schwundeck and Sarr in highly anti-black terms: as hyper-aggressive and physically dominating, thereby reproducing the image of the ‘angry black woman’ (Collins, 1999). In the case of Schwundeck, she was also further maligned as a ‘mad’ woman as she has been suffering from depression (Bruce-Jones, 2015, p. 43). As the examples of Schwundeck and Sarr show, multi-marginalised subjects are exposed to forms of policing which often go unnoticed in debates on, for instance, racial profiling as well as lethal forms of police violence. The US-legal feminist scholar Andrea Ritchie describes this as follows based on her analysis gendered racist policing: While it is in fact the case that fewer women are killed, brutalized by police or incarcerated, a focus on police killings and more egregious uses of physical force elides women’s more frequent experiences of less lethal violations, like sexual harassment and assault, which go undocumented… Police contact with women also tends to take place in locations away from public view—and cameras—such as homes, clinics and public hospitals, welfare offices, public housing. The combination of these factors and


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more makes police interactions with women less visible, not only in the numbers but also in the public eye. (Ritchie, 2017, p. 234) Ritchie shows that intersectionality as a tool can help to not only understand that police violence draws on intersecting modes of oppression, but further to account for the specific forms of policing (and their spaces) that multi-marginalised gendered subjects are exposed to. Schwundeck and Sarr were shot in a domestic space as well as in a job centre. They were not interpellated as being involved in drug offences or forms of masculinised ascriptions of criminality. Widening our analytical gaze in research on policing (often concentrated on ‘public spaces’ or spaces of custody such as prisons) and going beyond the binary of ‘public/domestic’ spaces (one of the major contributions of feminist theories), by drawing on intersectionality as a tool to examine how forms of violence are interrelated, can shed light on the subjects and spaces which otherwise fall through the cracks in critiques of policing. First explorative studies on continental Europe as well as accounts of self-organised initiatives that draw on intersectionality show that black women/women of colour, queers, and non-binary folks are often criminalised as sex workers (Kollaborative Forschungsgruppe Racial Profiling, 2019). Multi-marginalised subjects who work in the sex industry are particularly vulnerable to racist gendered policing, as they are controlled more often than their white colleagues and are under suspicion of working illegalised (Dankwa et al., 2019). A higher frequency of controls can have severe impacts on their lives, for instance, regarding child custody regulations. For illegalised sex workers, controls, and police raids pose severe risks such as detention or deportation (Hydra, 2017). Black and racialised mothers and non-binary parents are often constructed as ‘bad mothers/parents’. This is also important with regard to the cases of Schwundeck and Sarr, as their children were implicitly or explicitly involved in both cases (in the case of Schwundeck, she was struggling to get her child out of foster care). A historicised critique of gendered racial profiling (Ritchie, 2017, p. 145), alongside migration status, disability and socio-economic deprivation, must therefore interrogate the interdependency of systems of punishment, regimes of welfare and social services, foster care and their implicit orders (Roberts, 2022). I want to turn to a further case at the end of this section, which unfolds alongside inaction of police (when black and racialised subjects are in danger and/or go missing) instead of direct control or confrontation. I define ‘in-action’ of police also as a modality of structural abandonment that is part of racist policing (see also Melter, 2017). This modality shows that racialised subjects, multi-marginalised subjects in particular, are not only constructed as perpetrators, but furthermore fall through the cracks of regimes of security. The active in-action by police in the case of the black female asylum-seeker Rita Awour Ojunge demonstrates this. Ojunge had been missing since April 7, 2019. Her body parts were found in the forest near the Lager of Hohenleipisch in Brandenburg in mid-June 2019 (Thompson, 2021). It took police more than two months to find her remains in the nearby forest, though her friends and family continuously pressed that she had been missing since April 7. Prior to this, she had repeatedly reported sexual harassment in the refugee camp. In addition, her son had repeatedly told his father and the police that someone had violently beaten her before he brought her away from the camp on April 7. Not only was Ojunge’s son not believed, her reports of sexual harassment were further ignored, which points to the effects of s/exoticisation of black women and queer folks (Dos Santos Pinto, 2018) as well as to


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the intersectional violence within the lager and detention system. She was further implicitly criminalised as a ‘bad mother’ who would leave her children by themselves. Ojunge’s case, and others, shows that state violence does not only unfold alongside direct modes of control but also through in-action. Intersectionality as a tool can be mobilised here in order to not only understand who falls through the cracks but further to understand policing as also functioning through abandonment. The three cases discussed here—drawing on intersectionality as a tool for abolitionist analysis and critique of policing—as well as recent surveys and analysis of self-organised initiatives demonstrate that policing unfolds: (a) alongside intersectional vectors, (b) in various spaces (that are often not considered), and (c) alongside various modalities of violence, including through in-action and abandonment. As an abolitionist analysis aims to dismantle systems of punishment (like policing), domination and exploitation, intersectionality can be helpful here to understand how institutional modalities of violence are interrelated, in this case in and through policing. However, whereas intersectionality can be a tool for abolitionist analysis, intersectionality requires abolitionist analyses and frameworks to be able to explain the sources of modes of violence and oppression, and their function within racial gendered capitalism. I discuss this in the final section, staying with the example of policing.

Abolition as a Grounding for Intersectionality Twenty years ago, the anti-violence and abolitionist organisations INCITE! and Critical Resistance, both based in the US, co-wrote a statement which connects interpersonal to structural violence and urges us to recognise vulnerable women, queer and non-binary folks in abolitionist struggles (INCITE! And Critical Resistance, 2001). Their critiques were directed at abolitionist movements which mainly concentrated on state violence without addressing interpersonal violence sufficiently, as well as at feminist organisations and politics, which increasingly interpellated the state in anti-violence work (called ‘carceral feminism’), which heavily affects racialised poor communities (including women and nonbinary people). Drawing on intersectionality as an analytical tool, they called for social justice movements to address both state and interpersonal forms of violence and to engage with the complex constellations of institutions (such as police, courts, job centres, hospitals, schools, private security companies, the foster care regime) in the production of intersectional violence. But, as argued above, there are also examples of collectives and groups beyond the US that draw on intersectionality as a tool for abolitionist analysis and politics, such as the refugee women’s group Women in Exile, LesMigraS, Sisters Uncut in the UK, and Reaja ou Será Morta, Reaja ou Será Morto in Brazil, even if some of them do not use the terms ‘abolition’ or ‘intersectionality’ explicitly (but highlight the intersections of oppressions and call for the dismantling of carceral systems). These movements demonstrate that intersectionality is a crucial tool for abolitionist analysis and practice. They also demonstrate, however, that it is abolitionist analysis that explains why these intersections are happening (Farris, 2014; Salem, 2018) and how they are produced through carceral systems as methods of racial gendered capitalism to keep the racial capitalist order, property relation and surplus value production intact. Intersectionality as a tool can neither explain the function nor the role of carcerality and violence in the reproduction of racial gendered capitalism. Intersectionality can be helpful to analyse the interrelated forms of experiences of violence and to create movements attentive to these 174

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intersecting modes of violence. Abolition, however, is the analytical framework that does not only explain motors of violence and these modes of premature death, but furthermore attends to building radical new systems, and social relations of production and value instead of remaining within liberal logics of reform. It is abolitionist thought and practice that helps intersectionality to address the production and reproduction of oppression within our social system. Abolitionist approaches (departing from Third World and Black Marxisms and feminist traditions) provide a materialist analysis of violence, exploitation and domination as well as of their relation. This is because these approaches analyse the production of intersecting forms of oppression as articulations within racial gendered capitalism as the specific socio-economic system and mode of production and reproduction in which these forms of oppression, violence, and exploitation are initiated and reproduced (Davis, 2005; Du Bois, 1998; Gilmore, 2007, 2020). There is of course a wide range of abolitionist analysis of racial capitalism, and it is beyond the scope of this article to specify all of these approaches here. I do however want to demonstrate how abolition grounds intersectionality by staying with the example of policing. Abolitionist analysis of policing not only looks at the intersectional experiences of policing and how these experiences are related to the intersecting of institutions, but it further shows how policing functions as a method of racial gendered capitalism through the fabrication of social order (Neocleous, 2000; Vitale, 2017). As abolitionist scholars such as Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Adam Elliott-Cooper, and many others have argued, policing played a fundamental role in the recruitment into racialised gendered wage labour and enslaved labour relations; produces various forms of brute violence; and, against the background of global neoliberal capitalism, functions increasingly in order to contain and punish racialised surplus populations (alongside further surplus relations), as well as to keep the global racialised and gendered division of labour intact (Gilmore, 2007, 2022). This analytical framework further allows us to suggest radical alternatives as opposed to just reformulating or diversifying violence. Staying with the example of policing, suggestions of inclusion of racialised people into police or anti-bias/anti-discrimination trainings can go along with an intersectional approach unless it is are grounded in abolition. Abolitionist analysis grounds intersectional approaches in frameworks that refuse such liberal inclusion, reform or forms of individualisation (James, 2002) because it moves beyond just reforming policing or struggling to make it ‘better’. Understanding the root of policing and its function in the control of the poor, racialised and gendered working class and working poor people, and (historically) especially enslaved subjects; the protection of property and wage relations; the fabrication of social order; and increasingly the management of populations rendered surplus, abolitionist approaches argue for the abolition of policing as part of a radical transformation of society and social production instead of just the transformation of policing. Without an abolitionist approach, an intersectional critique of policing could, for instance, focus on changing police laws or including anti-discrimination legislation and intersectional anti-racist trainings. Although some of these suggestions can be considered important steps, which abolitionists would also argue for in terms of reducing police powers, abolitionists would not stop there, as they understand the role of policing within a racial gendered capitalist system. Centring on the abolition of systems that produce and reproduce violence and harm, abolitionists focus rather on decriminalisation (of, for instance, poverty, homelessness and addiction, migration, and sex work) as well as the strengthening and building of lifeaffirming and radical democratic institutions and relations of production and value. When 175

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intersectionality is detached from its abolitionist frameworks, it risks (neo) liberalisation through a focus on changing oppressive structures within a social system instead of abolishing that system itself in order to create something radically new. Rooted in black and Third World feminist materialist analyses, abolition further helps intersectionality to attune to transnational dimensions, especially relations between the Global North and the Global South regarding systems of punishment, war, and criminalisation. Finally, abolitionist approaches are grounded in movements for radical transformation and the creation of systems that are life-affirming (Gilmore, 2022). A compass for these approaches are the material conditions and struggles of especially the multi-marginalised sectors of the working classes and working poor as well as surplus populations. Against the background of the global expansion of carceral regimes, alongside the feminisation of poverty (Sudbury, 2004) and the general crisis of racial gendered capitalism, abolition becomes ever more important for critical feminist intersectional research and politics.

Notes 1 Racial capitalism as a term was first introduced by the Anti-Apartheid activist Neville E. Alexander and was later further conceptualised by Cedric Robinson in his seminal work Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (1983). According to Robinson, the development of capitalist society and mode of production was inextricably intertwined with racialism (2). He therefore does not conceive of racism as an ideology to divide workers or justification of enslavement, dispossession, and the super-exploitation of racialised workers (also within Europe), but understands processes of racial differentiation as key to capitalist accumulation (as well as former modes of production). As Ruth Wilson Gilmore, who argues that capitalism is always racial, explains: “Capitalism requires inequality, racism enshrines it” (Gilmore, 2020). And Jodi Melamed, also following Cedric Robinson: “Capital can only be capital when it is accumulating, and it can only accumulate by producing and moving through relations of severe inequality among human groups” (Melamed, 2015, p. 77). In the further course of this chapter, I write racial gendered capitalism, as the role of reproductive labour (as in the former plantations, households, hospitals, elderly homes, etc.), as anti-colonial and Marxist feminists remind us, is also crucial and constitutive for the accumulation of capital (Bhattacharyya, 2018; Davis, 1983). 2 I refer to intersectionality here, following Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, as a tool for critical enquiry and critical praxis (Collins and Bilge, 2016). While there is much and decades long debate on intersectionality, including about its usefulness, possible de-radicalisation of political struggles based on intersectionality’s liberal framework or liberal premises from its very beginning, and its relation to feminist materialist analyses, it is not the aim of this chapter to re-actualise these arguments (which are often limited to scholarly debates and confinements). I am rather interested in the reading of political mobilisations of intersectionality and how they relate to abolitionist politics and analysis. 3 It is of course controversial if intersectionality can be traced back in history like this, also because this entails the risk of universalising concepts and employing them anachronistically, as well as implying that black feminist approaches are homogenous. While these are important points of critique, I am rather interested in sketching out the abolitionist principles that shaped many of the politics that are often referred to as part of the archives of intersectionality. 4 Du Bois developed the term in his work on the Reconstruction era in the US to argue that although the system of enslavement is formally abolished, freedom, and radical democracy is not achieved as the social and economic system that makes enslavement (and further forms of exploitation and domination) possible, is still in place. 5 Policing, understood as a repressive and punitive relation (rather than just an institution) and method of racial capitalism, is a site of abolitionist critique and practice (also with regard to developing alternatives), but, as argued above, abolitionist approaches and practices also focus on prisons, borders, further repressive institutions, as well as on the social system as a whole. 6 I have discussed these cases previously in Thompson, 2018.


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References Belina, B., 2016. “Der Alltag der Anderen: Racial Profiling in Deutschland?”, in: Dollinger, B., Schmidt-Semisch, H. (Eds.), Sicherer Alltag? Politiken und Mechanismen der Sicherheitskonstruktion im Alltag. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden, pp. 125–146. Benjamin, R., 2019. Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. Polity, Medford, MA. Bhambra, G.K., 2016. “Undoing the Epistemic Disavowal of the Haitian Revolution: A Contribution to Global Social Thought.” Journal for Intercultural Studies 37, 1–16. Bhandar, B. 2013. “Race, Gender and Class: Some Reflections on Left Politics and Organising.” Feminists Law, 3, 1. Available at: view/68/195 Bhattacharyya, G. 2018. Rethinking Racial Capitalism: Questions of Reproduction and Survival. Rowman & Littlefield International, London. Bilge, S., 2013. “Intersectionality Undone: Saving Intersectionality from Feminist Intersectionality Studies.” Du Bois Review 10, 405–424. Bonhomme, E. 2020. “The Seeds of Abolition.” Heimatkunde. Migrationspolitisches Portal. Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Available at: Boyce Davies, C., 2008. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Duke University Press, Durham. Bruce-Jones, E., 2015. “German Policing at the Intersection: Race, Gender, Migrant Status and Mental Health.” Race and Class 56, 36–49. Burden-Stelly, C., 2019. “Introduction to Claudia Jones: Foremother of World Revolution.” Journal of Intersectionality 3, 1–3. Clinton, C., 2005. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom. Back Bay Books, New York. Collins, P.H., 1999. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Routledge, London. Collins, P.H., Bilge, S., 2016. Intersectionality. Polity, London. Cooper, A.J., 2006. Slavery and the French and Haitian Revolutionists: L’attitude de la France a l’egard de l’esclavage pendant la revolution. Danewid, I., 2021. “’These Walls Must Fall’: The Black Mediterranean and the Politics of Abolition”, in: Proglio, G., Hawthorne, C., Danewid, I., Saucier, P.K., Grimaldi, G., Pesarini, A., Raeymaekers, T., Grechi, G., Gerrand, V. (Eds.), The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Borders and Citizenship, Mediterranean Perspectives. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 145–166. Dankwa, S.O., Wa Baile, M., Naguib, T., Purtschert, P., Schilliger, S. (Eds.), 2019. Racial Profiling: Struktureller Rassismus und antirassistischer Widerstand. Transcript, Bielefeld. Davis, A., 1971. “Reflections on the Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves.” Black Scholar 3, 2–15. Davis, A.Y., 1983. Women, Race, & Class. Penguin Random House, New York. Davis, A.Y., 2003. Are Prisons Obsolete?. Seven Stories Press, New York. Davis, A.Y., 2005. Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture. Seven Stories Press, New York. Du Bois, W.E.B., 1998. Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880. The Free Press, New York. Ehrmann, J. Forthcoming. Tropen der Freiheit. Die Haitianische Revolution und die Dekolonisierung des Politischen. Suhrkamp, Berlin. El-Tayeb, F., Thompson, V., 2019. “Racial Profiling als Verbindung zwischen alltäglichem Rassismus, staatlicher Gewalt und kolonialrassistischen Traditionen. Ein Gespräch über Racial Profiling und intersektionale Befreiungsprojekte in Europa”, in Dankwa, S.O., Wa Baile, M., Naguib, T., Purtschert, P., Schilliger, S. (Eds.), Racial Profiling: Struktureller Rassismus und antirassistischer Widerstand. Transcript, Bielefeld, pp. 311–129. Elliott-Cooper, A., 2021. Black Resistance to British Policing. Manchester University Press, Manchester. Fanon, F., 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. Grove Press, New York. Farris, S., 2014. “The Intersectional Conundrum and the Nation State.” Viewpoint Magazine. Available at: Fassin, D., 2016. Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition. Polity, Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA.


Vanessa E. Thompson Gathara, P., 2020. “Settler Colonialism: The Root of Kenya’s Brutal Penal System.” The ­Elephant. Availabe at: Gilmore, R.W., 2007. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California. University of California Press, Berkeley. Gilmore, R.W., 2017. “Abolition Geography and the Problem of Innocence”, in: Johnson, G., Lubin, A. (Eds.), Futures of Black Radicalism, Verso, London, pp. 216–235. Gilmore, R.W., 2018. “Making Abolition Geography in California’s Central Valley”, The Funambulist. Available at: Gilmore, R.W., 2020. Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore. An Antipode Foundation Film. Available at: Gilmore, R.W., 2022. Abolition Geographies. Essays on Liberation. Verso, London. Guy-Sheftall, B., 2009. “Black Feminist Studies: The Case of Anna Julia Cooper.” African Americans Review 43, 11–15. Harney, S., Moten, F., 2013. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Minor Compositions, New York. Hydra, 2017. “Stellungnahme zum sogenannten ‘Prostituiertenschutzgesetz‘“, in: Melanie Brazzell (Ed.). Was macht und wirklich sicher? Toolkit für Aktivist_innen, Berlin, pp. 101–104. INCITE!, Critical Resistance. 2001. “Critical Resistance Incite! Statement on the Prison Industrial Complex.” Available at: James, C.L.R., 1989. The black Jacobins: Toussaint l’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Vintage Books, New York. James, J., 2002. States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire. Jones, C. 1949. “An end to the neglect of the problems of the Negro woman!” PRISM: Political & Rights Issues & Social Movements 467. Kaba, M., 2021. We Do This ’Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice, Haymarket Books, Chicago, IL. Kampagne für Opfer rassistischer Polizeigewalt (Ed.), 2016. Alltäglicher Ausnahmezustand. Institutioneller Rassismus in deutschen Strafverfolgungsbehörden. Unrast, Münster. Kollaborative Forschungsgruppe Racial Profiling. 2019. Racial Profiling. Erfahrung, Wirkung, ­Widerstand. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin. Loick, D., 2018. Kritik der Polizei. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. Loick, D., Thompson, V. 2022. Abolitionismus. Ein Reader. Suhrkamp, Berlin. Mama, A., 1993. “Black Women and the Police: A Place Where the Law is Not Upheld”, in: James, W., Harris C. (Eds.), Inside Babylon. The Caribbean Diaspora in Britain. Verso, London, pp. 135–152. May, V.M., 2004. “Thinking from the Margins, Acting at the Intersections: Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South.” Hypatia 19, 74–91. May, V.M., 2008. “‘By a black woman of the South’: Race, Place and Gender in the Work of Anna Julia Cooper.” Southern Quarterly 45(3): 127–152. McDuffie, E.S., 2011. Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism. Duke University Press, Durham, NC. McKittrick, K., 2006. Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. Melamed, J., 2015. “Racial Capitalism.” Critical Ethnic Studies 1(1): 76–85. Melter, C., 2017. “Koloniale, nationalsozialistische und aktuelle rassistische Kontinuitäten in Gesetzgebung und der Polizei am Beispiel von Schwarzen Deutschen, Roma und Sinti”, in: Fereidooni, K., El, M. (Eds.), Rassismuskritik und Widerstandsformen. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden, pp. 589–612. Mitchell, E., 2013. “I am a Woman and a Human: A Marxist Feminist Critique of Intersectionality Theory.” Mustakeem, S.M., 2016. Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.


Entangled Genealogies?! Intersectionality and Abolition Narayan, J. 2019. “British Black Power. The Anti-Imperialism of Political Blackness and the Problem of Nativist Socialism.” The Sociological Review 67(5): 945–967. Neocleous, M., 2000. The Fabrication of Social Order: A Critical Theory of Police Power. Pluto Press, London. O’Connor, B. 2020. “How to Build a Global Abolition Movement”. Vice. Available at: https://www. Ritchie, A. 2017. Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color, Reprint edition. ed. Beacon Press, Boston, MA. Roberts, D. 2022. Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families – and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World. Basic Books, New York. Robinson, C.J., 1983. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. Rodríguez, D. 2018. “Abolition as Praxis of Human Being: A Foreword.” Harvard Law Review, 132, 1575–1612. Salem, S., 2018. “Intersectionality and Its Discontents: Intersectionality as Traveling Theory.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 25, 403–418. Santos Pinto, J., 2018. “Besitzen, s/Exotisieren, Vergessen–Sklaverei, Einbürgerung und Rassisierung um 1798. Warum wir Schweizer Geschichte neu denken sollten”. Bern, Universität Bern, Unpublished Manuscript. Shilliam, R., 2015. The Black Pacific. Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections. Bloomsbury, London. Sinha, M., 2016. The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. Smythe, S., 2018. “The Black Mediterranean and the Politics of Imagination.” Middle East Report 286, 3–9. Snorton, C.R., 2017. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. Spillers, H.J., 1987. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17, 65–81. Stanley, E.A., Spade, D., 2012. “Queer (In)Justice. Queering Prison Abolition, Now?” American Quarterly 64, 115–127. Stierl, D.M., 2021. “The Mediterranean as a carceral seascape.” Political Geography 88, 102417. Sudbury, J. (Ed.), 2004. Global Lockdown. Routledge, New York. Thompson, V., 2018. “‘There is no justice, there is just us!’. Eine postkoloniale Kritik der Polizei am Beispiel von Racial Profiling”, in Loick, D. (Ed.), Kritik der Polizei, Campus, Frankfurt, pp. 197–223. Thompson, V., 2021. “Zum Polizieren von Differenz, feministische Vergessenheiten und den (Un-) möglichkeiten intersektionaler Abolition”, in: Laufenberg, M., Thompson, V. (Eds.), Sicherheit. Rassismuskritische und feministische Beiträge, Münster, Westfälisches Dampfboot, pp. 75–100. Truth, S., 2020. Ain’t I a Woman?. Penguin, London. Vitale, A.S., 2017. The End of Policing. Verso, London. Wacquant, L., 2009. Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity. Duke University Press, Durham, NC. Walia, H., 2021. Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism. Haymarket Books, Chicago, IL.


14 “POST-WAR” REFLECTIONS ON INTERSECTIONALITY Arrivals, Methodologies and Structural Entanglements Nina Lykke Intersectionality has become a nodal point for conflicts in feminism, which Jennifer Nash has theorised as “intersectionality wars” (2019, 35ff.). No one who has embraced intersectionality in recent decades seems to have been left untouched by these wars. However, rather than prolonging them, I intend to resituate my approaches to intersectionality in a “post-war” mode. I will revisit the trajectory of the feminisms I have inhabited since I began my feminist life in the 1970s as multi-categorical and disidentificatory, rather than intersectional. I name my feminisms disidentificatory because I agree with Judith Butler’s analysis (1993, 219–221) of the unifying signifiers which attract participants to social and environmental justice movements, but which must always fail to keep their promises due to the complex webs of internal differences woven through the overall macropolitical entanglements of different kinds of hegemonic powers and social structurations (Lykke 2014). I recognise the dual experience that Butler theorises as key to my engagements with feminism, being attracted to unifying signifiers, while also experiencing the disidentificatory “yes, but”. Moreover, I define my feminisms as multicategorical, because the feminist movements to which I have been committed were never working on monocategorical conditions, i.e., celebrating only one unifying signifier. The socialist/Marxist feminist groups in which I participated during the 1970s were focussed on the gender/class nexus. The lesbian feminist movement, of which I was also a part back then, targeted gender and nonnormative sexual identities. Another reason for defining my feminisms as multicategorical is the need I have always felt to commit to more than one political group. In the 1970s, this meant that I worked with a dual set of multi-categorical points of departure, while also disidentifying in both contexts. I revisit my situation in the 1970s as a case in point. But throughout my career as a feminist activist, and later as a feminist scholar, I have spent decades participating in academic activist efforts to radically change university curricula and pedagogies, while experiencing disidentificatory feelings and the need for a focus on wider categorical complexities and entangled power structures (Lykke 2017). When I learnt about the concept of intersectionality in the aftermath of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s seminal articles (1989, 1991), I embraced it as key to the multicategorical and

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disidentificatory feminisms which I had inhabited since my first commitment to feminist movements. In my first publications on intersectionality (e.g., Lykke 2003, 2010, 2011), I distinguished between “explicit” theorisings of intersectionality, and “implicit” ones (2010, 68). The first of these addressed intersectionality via genealogies in US Black Feminism, while the latter targeted disidentificatory and multicategorical feminisms more broadly, including those that I count as my own genealogies, namely the kind of socialist/Marxist feminisms, poststructuralist difference feminisms, and queer feminisms that were all strong in Europe during the last decades of the 20th century. The intersectionality wars, which have raged over the past several decades, not only in the USA as described by Nash (2019), but also in Scandinavia (de los Reyes, Molina and Mulinari 2003; Carbin and Tornhill 2004; Carbin and Edenheim 2013; de los Reyes and Mulinari 2020; Dahl 2021), have taught me to use the concept of intersectionality cautiously. The “wars” have targeted white and hegemonic feminism, critically addressing alleged gestures of neoliberalising, diluting, and whitening the concept of intersectionality as it was framed by Black US Feminism (e.g., Bilge 2013). Following these critiques, I recognise how my approach of annexing “implicit” to “explicit” intersectional theory made me complicit in diluting the anti-racist potential, making race and racism into just one intersectional category among others, instead of the central focus. Therefore, I have revised my take on genealogies and arrivals to the field of intersectional analysis (Lykke 2018, 2020, Forthcoming). In this chapter, I shall firstly spell out my revised genealogical distinctions. I shall account for what I define as multicategorical disidentificatory feminisms, and, in a “postwar” mode, distinguish them from intersectional feminisms. While resituating my arrival onto the field, I shall also suggest that my trajectory may resonate with broader trends in European feminisms. Redefining my genealogies, I want to avoid appropriating the concept of intersectionality as applicable to my feminist trajectory, while, at the same time, firmly rejecting the image of neoliberal, monocategorical, single-issue feminism which, as part of the intersectionality wars, was projected onto me and other European feminists when a transatlantic front in the intersectionality wars was opened up by North American critics (Bilge 2013; Tomlinson 2013a; 2013b, 2018). After this “postwar” resituating of my turbulent arrivals, the subsequent sections of the chapter will address an urgent methodological question: “Intersectionality, yes, but how?” (Hvenegård-Lassen and Staunæs 2020) that was posed in a recent special issue on intersectionality of the Nordic feminist journal NORA. I consider a focus on methodologies to be central to further “postwar” unfoldings of intersectional analyses, politics, and perhaps the building of new coalitions. I also find it important to address this issue at both the micro- and macropolitical levels. In the second part of the chapter, I outline my micropolitical-level approach through an analysis of snapshots from the heated debates on intersectional politics instigated by the pink “Pussyhat”, which became a—contested—symbol of the Women’s Marches that were started as a worldwide protest against former US President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. In the third part, I scale up from the micropolitical level to the entanglement of the overall hegemonic power structures and social structurations, which, macropolitically, frame the production of categories, as well as resistance to them. I argue that, in order to understand the dynamics of intra-acting power structures at a more over-arching macropolitical and historical level, intersectional analysis demands a radical cross-cutting of existing theoretical archives, which, historically, have been developed with categorical scopes that are too limited and fixed, rather than as open-ended approaches. Reflecting on a


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perhaps revitalised political will to work intersectionally and transversally beyond categorically bounded archives, I argue that these kinds of cross-cutting gestures should be seen as important tools for macropolitical-level intersectional analysis.

Personal-Political Arrivals into a Warzone Feminist analysis calls for situatedness, which makes context, arrivals, genealogies, and trajectories important. So how did I arrive at multicategorical, disidentificatory feminisms? How did my early life as a feminist, committed to socialist feminist and lesbian feminist activism during the early 1970s, and later to poststructuralist difference feminism and queer feminism, shape my arrival within intersectionality? As discussed in detail elsewhere (Lykke 2020), the socialist feminist part of my early activism was guided by in-depth reflections upon the relations between middle-class and working-class women’s conditions. How could “we” (groups of predominantly white, middleclass women, organised in the Danish Redstocking Movement, and in feminist-Marxist students’ groups that were trying to reorganise university curricula in the aftermath of the 1968 students’ revolts) establish collaborative political relations with working-class women as part of wider student/worker alliances? The Danish Redstocking Movement worked under the political slogan: “No Women’s Struggle Without Class Struggle, No Class Struggle Without Women’s Struggle”. We, who were also engaged in the students’ movement and in feminist-Marxist groups at university, were aligned with the overall Redstocking Movement. Still, forging links with working-class women was not easy. This led to self-critical scrutiny of middle-class privileges, with a focus on the impact of differences among women’s situations, related to the class/gender nexus. Simultaneously, the lesbian feminist part of my early political commitment meant that sexual identity and the search for new, nonnormative lifestyles were also key issues, together with differences among women based on sexual identity and family status. What does it mean to commit to a life as a lesbian, rather than pursuing a normatively prescribed, heterosexual trajectory, which, back then, implied some kind of normatively framed housewifery? It was a time of experimenting with new lifestyles and ways of living non-normative lives, and differences were outspoken, not only in terms of finding ways to manage one’s own life, but also in collectively envisioning other ways of living altogether. Female masculinity and butch–femme relationships were contested, queerfeminine lesbians such as myself were invisibilised, and femininity in general was re-evaluated by some, and emphasised by others as that which we had to overcome in order to become liberated. Together with my lesbian life partner, I thus published a socialist-feminist manifesto, entitled Break Out! [Bryld!] (Bryld and Lykke 1980), which was strongly critical of conventional femininities and binary processes of genderisation, which we analysed as historical products of capitalism, and the concomitant emergence of the patriarchal bourgeois family. In sum, the dividing lines between women related to class, sexual identity, and family status were our focus. First of all, the feminisms of which I was a part in Denmark during the 1970s were critically targeting liberal monocategorical—“bourgeois”—feminism for its complicity with capitalism. Secondly, these feminisms were enacting an explosion of differences and disidentifications. This explosion was considered to be the key feature constituting a movement rather than a party. A movement was seen as a brand-new kind of political organisation, which participants proudly emphasised as one that did not pursue unity. Differences were highly valued, even though they were also experienced as troubling. 182

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My scholarly work as a feminist theorist took off from this outspoken focus on differences and intra-active multicategoricality. My first publications within the field of feminist theory (e.g., Bryld and Lykke 1980), and my doctoral dissertation (Lykke 1993), were engaged in a queer-feminist-Marxist-psychoanalytical theorising of the relationship between gender, non-normative sexuality, and class. Later, from more poststructuralist points of departure, I investigated the relations between gender, (techno)nationalism, discourses of coloniality, and animality (Bryld and Lykke 2000). When I arrived at the concept of intersectionality through Crenshaw 1989, 1991, Matsuda 1991, and Collins 1998, my first response was that it resonated with what for me were core issues in feminism: its disidentificatory foundation in everything but monocategorical, monolithic understandings of Woman, and a corresponding understanding of oppressions as multiple. Secondly, intersectional theory seemed to represent a framework that was more flexible and open to a multiplicity of intraacting categories and oppressions than the Marxist one, which I and many other socialist feminists had struggled to challenge in its monocategorical focus on class as determining of all other relations. Thirdly, I saw the concept of intersectionality as aligned with the critiques of liberal, equality-oriented, monocategorical feminism, which was of key importance for the feminisms to which I was committed. Fourthly, when I started teaching and writing about intersectionality for the first PhD programme in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies in Sweden, where I became employed as a professor in the late 1990s, it became clear that not only I, but also the feminist PhD students, were thrilled about the concept of intersectionality and its potential to deal with multiple oppressions and disidentifications. They confirmed my embracing of the concept—not least because it seemed to provide an open-ended framework for a feminist queering of gender, underscoring differences among women and among men, while displacing the gender binary. However, the intersectionality wars made me rethink this embrace as problematic. I came to see it as an effect of my white epistemologies of ignorance and complicity in leftist versions of the European erasure of race (Goldberg 2006),1 and my blind spots as a white European socialist feminist, who had overlooked the whiteness and Eurocentrism of Marxism, communism, and socialism (Lykke 2018, 2020). When the transatlantic front was opened up in the intersectionality wars by North American critics of “European” intersectionality studies (Bilge 2013, Tomlinson 2013a, 2013b, 2018), I also understood that my genealogies were perhaps not mine alone. In the eyes of the critics, they resonated with those of other white European feminists, insofar as they lumped “us” together in a homogenous category. “European feminisms” are, of course, much more diverse than this categorisation implies. Nevertheless, some of “us” may still share socialist-feminist trajectories, which I believe it would be useful to revisit critically. As part of her critique of European feminist ways of diluting intersectionality, Canadabased intersectionality theorist Sirma Bilge (2013) discussed two feminist landmark conferences on intersectionality—one in Frankfurt in 2009 (Lutz, Vivar and Supik 2011), and one in Lausanne in 2012. Together with other intersectionality scholars, based in the UK and USA (Lewis 2009, 2013; Tomlinson 2013a, 2013b), Bilge claimed that these particular conferences were iconic for the ways in which a general European erasure of race (Goldberg 2006) was operating in feminist intersectionality debates during the first decades of the 21st century. But Bilge also added new perspectives. She discussed a specific erasure mechanism, involving class, and critically took white European feminists specifically to task for falsely claiming to have been doing intersectional analysis avant la lettre. Bilge was referring to 183

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participants at the Lausanne conference who had asked for “due recognition” of the ways in which “French feminist thought (both materialist and socialist/Marxist strands)” had focussed on the class/gender nexus, and in that sense had been tackling the “same issues” as intersectionality using different theoretical and conceptual tools (Bilge 2013, 416). According to Bilge, the argument of these feminists implied a co-optation and undermining of intersectionality as a concept “to be deployed for anti-racist purposes”, since “race was not of concern” in these French theorisings of the gender/class nexus (Bilge 2013, 416). I took part in the Frankfurt conference, but not in the Lausanne one, and I only know about the debates on the latter through Bilge’s article. Nevertheless, the alleged claim to have been doing intersectionality by other means seems to resonate with what, in my first publications on intersectionality, I identified as “implicit intersectional analysis” (Lykke 2003, 2010, 2011). I have argued elsewhere (Lykke 2018, 2020) that I acknowledge this part of Bilge’s critique, which is why I have stopped claiming my earlier feminist commitments to disidentificatory multicategoricality as intersectional. But neither do I endorse Bilge’s inscription of European feminist claims to have been doing intersectionality as part of materialist and socialist/Marxist feminism in an overall monocategorical neoliberal feminism, nor her implied allegation that critical analyses of race, racism, and post/coloniality were simply absent from European feminist thought (e.g., Guillaumin 1995; Lutz, Phoenix and Yuval-Davis 1995; Bryld and Lykke 2000). The problem that is in need of a broader historical-political and self-critical scrutiny is, in my view, a different one. Key trends in feminist socialism/ Marxism of the 1970s (my own included) succeeded in dismantling the outspoken patriarchalism and heteronormativity that were embedded so powerfully in 20th-century socialist, communist, and Marxist thought—but we failed to understand how Eurocentrism and whiteness also pervaded these theories and the specific kinds of leftist politics to which they gave rise, focussing as they did on the workers’ “avantgarde” as the revolutionary subject par excellence (Lykke 2018, 2020). I came to these conclusions through a revisiting of my own and other Scandinavian socialist feminists’ research conducted during the 1970s. But much more critical genealogical research is needed, insofar as the failures of 20th-century socialism, communism, and Marxism still cast long shadows across the leftist movements of the 21st century.

Intersectional Methodologies and the Pussyhat Conflicts Having resituated my arrival at intersectional analysis, I shall proceed to the question of methodologies, looking first at the micropolitical level. I want to argue for a focus on events, assemblages, and processual intra-activity, rather than on grids of categories. These analytical approaches resonate with the car accident metaphor, which Crenshaw originally used to explain intersectionality pedagogically, referring to cars crashing into each other at an intersection (1989, 149). However, intersectionality has also often been explained through a crossroads metaphor, which simply evokes an image of traffic between different categorisations, for example, a “racism” road, a “sexism” road, and a “homophobia” road crossing each other (AAPF 2021, 4). Queerfeminist theorist Jasbir Puar (2011, 6–7) points out that the car accident metaphor is more fitting, because it underscores intersectionality as the dynamic and shifting effects of violently clashing and mutually interpenetrating power structures, rather than suggesting an image of regulated traffic between separate “roads”.


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Since my early publications on intersectionality (Lykke 2003, 2010, 2011), I have suggested a theoretical framing through posthuman feminist theorist Karen Barad’s notion of intra-activity, embedded in her onto-epistemology of agential realism (2007). Agential realism implies an understanding of the world as made up of processually changing and inevitably entangled phenomena which intra-act, while still forming new interference patterns, rather than bouncing off each other like fixed entities. Barad defines intra-action in opposition to inter-action, the latter designating the ways in which bounded entities such as billiard balls collide without mutually transforming each other, while the former refers to mutual interpenetration, i.e., the merging of substances such as, for example, paint. My Baradian way of reading multicategoricality and intersectionality resonates with Puar’s (2007, 2011) framing of intersectionality along the lines of philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s notion of assemblages and events (1988)) and philosopher Brian Massumi’s theory of affect (2002). Against this background, Puar argues for an intersectional analysis that is attentive to the processes, change, and always-new assemblages that emerge from clashing affective economies, intensities, and events. Taking as a starting point an event where, for example, sexism and racism clash and reassemble in new configurations is an alternative to focussing on positionalities, which are defined by grids of categorically fixed entities: gender, race, and sexuality. In this way, Puar shifts the analysis of intersecting powers and subjectivities into an arena where the critical perspective can be supplemented by an opening up towards more hopeful alternatives. As she argues: intersectionality attempts to comprehend political institutions and their attendant forms of social normativity and disciplinary administration, while assemblages, in an effort to re-introduce politics into the political, asks what is prior to and beyond what gets established. (Puar 2011, 8) I want to illustrate what it means to look at multicategoricality and intersectionality in terms of intra-active processes along the lines of Barad, and assemblages and affective events in a Deleuzoguattarian sense, as outlined by Puar, rather than on grids of categories. I take my examples from the debates on the pink Pussyhat, symbolising the Women’s Marches that were organised in protest against former US President Donald Trump. My source for the analysis is the Pussyhat Project’s website (Pussyhat Project™ 2021a, 2021b), including its blog, and the media materials referred to on the website. I have visited these materials occasionally over a period of several years (2017–2021). According to the website, the Pussyhat idea stemmed from design architect Jayna Zweiman in 2017. Due to her head and neck disability, she was prevented from marching herself, but wanted to do something for the march. Together with screenwriter Krista Suh, she invented the design for the Pussyhat, and spread the idea via the website. The knitting of these hats was taken up by participants in the Women’s Marches, which were organised in many cities all over the USA, and in major cities across the globe. In response to Trump’s arrogant insistence on sexist power and his “Grab ’em by the pussy” remark,2 which was quoted in the media worldwide when he was elected President of the USA in 2016, the pink Pussyhat performed as a symbol for reclaiming the derogatory term “pussy” and the colour pink as a girlish colour, identifying femininity with infantility. However, the Pussyhat also worked as a more intersectionally complex symbol than


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this. The Women’s Marches had broad intersectional agendas, protesting against Trump’s intersecting sexism, racism, classism and climate change denial. So, in contexts where the Pussyhat was widely used and became a symbol for the Women’s Marches, it came to stand for these broader dimensions, too. What interests me in the context of this chapter, though, is the ways in which, alongside becoming a symbol for an intense intersectional struggle against multiple oppressions, the Pussyhat also became a nodal point for strong internal frictions and disidentifications among march participants. These frictions were forcefully articulated in the Pussyhat Project’s blog (Pussyhat Project™ 2021a). I will consider them using the dynamic, intraaction, and event-oriented approach suggested above as a lens. Rather than focussing on the bouncing of fixed axes of power, based on race, gender and sexuality, I will consider intra-active encounters and affective events, looking at the enactment of intersectional and multicategorical relationships as dynamic, ongoing, and changing assemblages. To briefly illustrate the processuality and dynamics which it becomes possible to grasp when applying these methodological lenses, I analyse a few snapshots from the debate. The primary source of friction was the question of whether the pink Pussyhat was an appropriate symbol for a unified political resistance, or, conversely, whether it was a racist and transphobic one, that acted in an exclusionary way vis-à-vis black women, women of colour and transwomen. I shall look at these affect-laden frictions stemming from the strongly divided responses to this question. But, first, I want to dig deeper into the concept of disidentification as a subject position located in-between identification (I am like…) and counter-identification (I am not like…) (Dean 2008, 4). As mentioned above, I am building on Butler’s theorisation of the concept, but I use it with a new-materialist emphasis, stressing that disidentification is materially grounded in bodily unease (Lykke Forthcoming). Butler makes the point that imagined political communities gathering under the banner of a unifying category (e.g., the pink Pussyhat) always fail to establish the unity that the signifier seems to promise, with profound consequences. The movement’s participants commit themselves because they are attracted by the unity which the signifier promises. But when it inevitably fails to keep its promise due to internal differences, it leaves the participants with the “uneasy sense of standing under a sign to which one does and does not belong” (Butler 1993, 219). It is the unease generated by this situation that produces disidentification, understood as ambivalent feelings of simultaneously belonging and not-belonging. The frictions and disidentifications concerning the question of whether the Pussyhat performed as a symbol of unity or exclusion took centre stage in the debates on the Women’s Marches in 2018. Let me illustrate this with a couple of extracts from the blog3: A: [presenting herself as a black and lesbian woman]: (…) I’ve never looked at the pussyhat as a LITERAL symbol of anatomy, and it blows my mind that some do. It’s pussycat ears—not genitalia. Really?! It was a symbol of solidarity & I still remember how happy I was when I saw men, children, police officers & the like, sporting them alongside us as we walked through the streets of DC en masse last year. It was a simple symbol of unity and it was extremely effective. Those images are now an indelible part of history & the hat is iconic. (…) To attack a hat color seems a misdirected use of energy (imho), that would be better spent focusing on the real issues that impact us collectively and have real-world consequences. Black women, WOC, trans women will have challenges that straight, 186

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cis white women will be spared, but it serves non of our agendas to get bogged down in minutiae like this. It just seems counter-productive to me and we have big things that need doing. [Published on Pussyhat website blog Jan 14, 2018. (Pussyhat Project™ 2021a, 16) B: I am in the Pensacola, Florida chapter. I am a black woman of color. I don’t like the hats. We made a long statement of why the hats are problematic. I would encourage everyone to read it and talk to transwomen and non-binary people. And, of course black women. By starting the conversation, we are trying to be the change. We have legitimate concerns. [Published on Pussyhat website blog Jan 14, 2018. (Pussyhat Project™ 2021a, 19) [The statement referred to in blogpost B was published on the Women’s March Florida-Pensacola Facebook page Jan 3, 2018. It argued that the pink Pussyhats are trans-exclusionary because they “represent a very concentrated and thus, exclusionary sect of feminism that ignores, neglects, and ultimately harms the fight for global women’s liberation (…) based around the idea of biological essentialism and shared womanhood (…): two incorrect ideas that women are all on the same level despite conflicting classes, races, sexualities, etc. and are also bound by the ‘power of the vagina’.” Moreover, the statement emphasized that “the Pink P*ssy Hat is whitefocused and Eurocentric in that it assumes that all vaginas are pink; this is also an incorrect assertion.” (Women’s March Florida-Pensacola 2021)] Blogposter A emphasises the immediate feeling of unity which the march event created in her. She disidentifies with the ways in which, in retrospect, the symbol is being interpreted literally as a pink pussy, and as a symbol of white and trans-exclusionary radical feminism that works in a manner that is also exclusionary of black and coloured women. Blogposter B, in turn, disidentifies with the pink Pussyhat symbol, seeing it as an extremely exclusionary symbol. The point that I want to take from blogpost A is the author’s reference to the strong feeling of unity the event gave her, prior to the discussion of grids of in/exclusion along the lines of intersectional categories. This resonates with Puar’s stressing of a focus on “what is prior to and beyond what gets established” (2011, 8). However, also looking at blogpost B, the spontaneous and immediate experiencing of the Pussyhat as an exclusionary symbol is no doubt just as “prior” (in Puar’s sense) as blogposter A’s feeling of unity. Both are to be understood as based on embodied affective economies, grounded in diverging onto-epistemologies, which together produce frictions and affective clashes, or “car accidents” (to use Crenshaw’s original metaphor, 1989, 149). I suggest that an approach which focusses on intra-active encounters and events, rather than on grids of categories, can lead to more dynamic views in terms of opening up horizons not only to affective clashes in the sphere of that which is “prior” to established grids, but also to transversal potentials. To elaborate on this suggestion, I return to Butler’s theorising of disidentification. She hopefully asks about “the possibilities of politicizing disidentification”, claiming that “the failure of identification” can become “the point of departure for a more democratizing affirmation of internal difference” (Butler 1993, 219). Here, Butler opens up the possibility that the unavoidable “internal difference”, which was excluded by the unifying signifier, can be articulated via processes of renegotiation that change the 187

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meanings of the signifier or the signifier itself. Taking into account the blog participants’ evidently strong commitment not only to disidentify, but also to (re)negotiate (indeed, participants were writing long blogposts and statements to make themselves understood to each other), Butler seems to have a point when emphasising that disidentifications can initiate democratic negotiations and transversal dialogue around internal difference. Transversal dialogue is a concept that was coined by Italian peace feminists and later theorised further by feminist anti-racist scholar Nira Yuval-Davis in her work on gender and nationalism (1997). I consider transversal conversation, which I claim to be happening spontaneously among participants in the Women’s Marches, alongside strong frictions, to be an important element of the assemblage of concepts that are useful for intersectional analysis and politics. To spell this out in more detail, I want to provide yet another reference to the Pussyhat debates—this time to Lilliana Angel Reyes, co-executive director of the Trans Sistas of Color Project. Reyes was a speaker on the Women’s March in Lansing, Michigan, in 2018, and made an intervention into the Pussyhat controversy in an interview with a local newspaper, while preparing for this march. After having said that they will wear a pink Pussyhat on the march, Reyes is quoted as making the following comments: I definitely understand that there are people that are concerned that the pussyhat, the pink cat hat, is very specific for people with vaginas. (…) But… it was a very specific thing…. specific to when President Trump said “Grab ‘em by the pussy,” and so to me it was a play on words that shows power. I also think for me, it’s more symbolic. There are people who believe that because not only is it a pink pussy, which can mean only white women, that it could be a race and a gender thing. For me, it doesn’t read that way. … When I was at the March on Washington [in 2017], I felt so included. (…) I felt embraced. It was a beautiful thing. I never once felt excluded for my trans-ness or my woman of color-ness. I never had that experience at the March on Washington, or at the women’s conference, and I’m sure that I won’t have it at the March on Lansing. What’s important is that I personally think people are missing that… people make mistakes… the people who organize the marches tried as hard as they could. I know a lot of trans women who were part of the organizing and part of the speaking. I know a lot of women of color, too. I spoke at the women’s conference, I’m speaking at the Women’s March on Lansing and they’ve reached out to me on a number of other occasions. (Shamus 2021) Reyes disidentifies with those who would reduce the Pussyhat to a symbol of white cisfeminism. Moreover, speaking as a transwoman of colour, Reyes makes the claim that they did not feel excluded, and that people on both sides should try to be more generous to each other. Against this background, I want to suggest that Reyes’ intervention resonates with calls for transversal politics, and also a flexible solidarity, as these notions have been revisited in recent work by Black Feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins (2017), and previously discussed, among others, by Yuval-Davis (1997). Based on an examination of the complex relationship between feminism and nationalism, and as an answer to “the general question of solidarity across difference”, Yuval-Davis pinpointed transversalism “as a model of feminist politics” (1997, 117). Transversal politics, she says, considers various forms of difference among movement participants, “without falling into the trap of identity politics” 188

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(1997, 4). Instead, transversality means taking different positionings seriously, fostering solidarity and coalition across difference. Transversal feminism takes into account that there are always intersectional and/or multicategorical differences at play, but presupposes that common ground and “epistemic community” (Assiter 1996) can be reached if there are shared political commitments—as in the Women’s Marches. Transversalism is practised in terms of transversal conversations in groups where “participants commit themselves to combine ‘rooting’ (in their own local and partial perspectives) and ‘shifting’ (i.e., seriously taking up and committing oneself to the perspective of differently situated group members: Yuval-Davis 1997, 130; Lykke 2010, 85). When transversality was recently revisited by Patricia Hill Collins (2017), she brought it into conversation with the Black Feminist concept of “flexible solidarity” (2017, 1469). I interpellate these frameworks as part of my considerations of methodological approaches to intersectional analysis at micropolitical levels, because they resonate with the dynamic rather than the grid-like approach, which I want to foreground, insofar as it opens up more hopeful political potentials for coalition-building.

Cross-Cutting Categorically Defined Archives I have used the Pussyhat debates to illustrate what I see as fruitful approaches to the intersectional analysis of micropolitical intra-actions of entangled power structures. I shall now extend the methodological reflection to the question of macropolitical entanglements and overall social structurations which frame the intersections at micropolitical levels. How can we analyse the entanglements and processual dynamics of overarching social structurations—structural racism, structural sexism, capitalism, post- and neocolonialism, Anthropocene extractivism, heteropatriarchy—without reducing them to static, preformed grids or taking some of them as points of departure, while leaving others as black boxes? Coming to terms with the questions of macropolitical entanglements has always been a difficult part of intersectional and multicategorical theorising and analysis. The questions are hugely complex, and postdisciplinary approaches are needed. However, the biggest problem is perhaps not the complexity or the postdisciplinary methodologies required to address it. Rather, it is that many of the existing theoretical archives for dealing with these entanglements have been grounded in onto-epistemologies that have given priority to one or a delimited selection of categories, which are considered more determining than others for changing society towards social and environmental justice. Rather than opting for transversal explorations across archives, many efforts have been directed towards maintaining boundaries. Classical 19th- and 20th-century Marxist and socialist theorisings of capitalism, class, and anti-capitalist class struggles are cases in point. As argued by the post-Marxist critique of the last decades of the 20th century (Laclau and Mouffe 2001), Marxism side-stepped the possibility of multiple revolutionary subjects, and downplayed the significance of political agency based on resistance to societal structurations along the lines of categorisations other than class. Questions of race, gender, non-normative sexualities and bodies, trans-identities, indigeneity, a-modern rural ways of living, and non-human agency and vitality were either cast as non-issues or relegated to the margins. This made it difficult to establish composite, alternative theorisations, such as Black Marxism (Robinson 2019) subaltern studies/ postcolonial Marxism (Chakrabarty 2000), queer Marxism (Liu 2015), feminist Marxism 189

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(Lykke 1993), ecological Marxism (Moore 2015) and intersections between them, even though such traditions did develop. But Marxism is not the only theory of societal change that has made it difficult to crosscut archives and disrupt the ways in which they have been historically structured and bound to grids of categories, rather than to open-ended intersectional explorations of theoretical intra-actions and transversality. The “wars” on the political prioritising of categories, which have internally haunted movements for social and environmental justice due to the workings of disidentifications, have made their mark on the building of theoretical archives as well, insofar as transversal theorisations have often been blocked rather than nurtured. A recent special issue, Left of Queer, of the journal Social Text (Eng and Puar 2020), for example, offers an interesting account of the mutually troubled relationship between queer theory and Marxism (Liu 2020). Delving into historical genealogies, Chinese queer theorist Petrus Liu (2020) discusses how the theoretical incommensurability of Marxism and queer theory was constructed during the formation of the latter in the 1990s. The establishing of queer theory, Liu argues, implied a reductionist economistic reading of Marxist theory which, to a large extent, left transversal approaches unexplored. Liu’s article is interesting both in terms of the way in which it documents the obstacles to cross-cutting approaches to archives that are constructed as incommensurable, and also because he suggests a way out, which resonates with my arguments for theoretical transversality beyond an ontology of bounded grids of categories. In line with the overall focus of the special issue, Liu dismantles the gestures of “properly” (Butler 1997) fixing definitions of political subjects and objects of research along the lines of categorical grids. According to Liu, such fixings were operative during the formation of Queer Studies in the US Academy during the 1990s, and the concomitant queer rejection of Marxism, which reduced the latter to a question of class and economics, while, by implication, also reducing queer to being only a question of non-normative sexualities, identities, and lifestyles. As a way out of this stalemated situation, Liu suggests a cross-cutting approach. Through a revisiting of Judith Butler’s move from gender performativity to the ethical question of liveability, in tandem with Marx’s theory of labour as producing social relations, Liu suggests an open-ended reconceptualisation of both Marxist and queer theory. Considered alongside each other, Liu argues, these theories offer radical, historical critiques of Western modernity and its specific forms of social structuration of work, sexuality, sex and gender. They dismantle modernity’s violent ways of mediating between vulnerable, embodied selves and macropolitically, over-individually structuring societal powers which ground these selves “in a sociality of unknowable others and material circumstances beyond one’s control” (Liu 2020, 33). Together, the two clusters of theory show how this way of mediating results in an asymmetrical production of liveable and unliveable lives. As Liu demonstrates, the reductive class-versus-sexual-orientation construction has stalemated debates between Marxism and queer theory for years. Taking Liu’s critique further, the Left of Queer special issue editors, David Eng and Jasbir Puar (2020), argue for a more general transgressing of categorical grids, as well as the subjects and objects of research that are rigidly defined through them. They foreground a subjectless and objectless queer analysis, which instead works from the specific materialities of bodies—the special issue focusses on indigeneity, debility, and trans embodiments (Eng and Puar 2020, 2)— and geo- and body-politically pressing issues. The latter are exemplified in the special issue by, among others, its dealing with a topic such as “geographies of safe spaces and securitization” (Eng and Puar 2020, 5). I am referring here to the Left of Queer issue because 190

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I see the kind of cross-cutting analyses suggested there as reflecting promising and muchneeded approaches to entangled micro- and macropolitical intersectional analysis, which transgresses fixed and delimited archives of theories of social structure, bound to certain categories rather than others. I also notice a resonance with other current efforts, and I want to foreground, in particular, what decolonial scholars Tlostanova and Mignolo (2012) have defined as a combined corpo- and geo-political knowledge seeking, which opens up horizons towards intersectional analysis beyond the nation-state and methodological nationalism, and also beyond a universalising basis exclusively grounded in Western modernity. As a significant example of decolonial scholarship, which addresses the complexity of entangled social structurations from a combined geo- and corpo-political perspective, I shall briefly foreground decolonial and queerfeminist scholar Marcarena Gómez-Barris’ (2017) analysis of the Anthropocene and post/colonial, capitalist extractivism in Latin America and entangled indigenous, queer, feminist, trans, arts-activist efforts to build alternative worlds. Gómez-Barris’ methodological approach implies a transgressing of all kinds of intersectional grids at both macropolitical structural levels, and micropolitical everyday ones. Moreover, she works from a dual perspective, which includes both of these levels in one integrated analysis. Starting with the entanglements rather than the grids of social structuration, Gómez-Barris spells out the inextricable and violent intertwinement of racial, post/neocolonial and extractivist capitalism, heteropatriarchal power and Anthropocene necropolitics (Lykke 2019), which depletes the riches of indigenous lands, and the planet’s vitality more broadly. But the dual methodology allows Gómez-Barris to focus not just on these macropolitical entanglements. She also engages with micropolitical levels of interlinked indigenous, queer, feminist, artsactivist agencies and vitalities. The latter are agencies which, according to Gómez-Barris’ analysis, are to be understood not only as critically resistant, but also as affirmatively enabling alternative worlds to emerge. She theorises the emergent micropolitical agencies as “submerged”, i.e., invisible from the extractive, profit-oriented, macropolitical vantage point of capital, corporations, and nation states, but nonetheless working transformatively from below. Gómez-Barris describes her dual methodology as a decolonial queer femme methodology, i.e., a methodology that allows the shaping of over-arching and cross-cutting theoretical knowledge of macropolitical entanglements in tandem with an meticulous attention micropolitical perspectives through a personally situated and phenomenologically grounded corpo-affective unfolding of new sensibilities and perceptions in conversation with the studied materials (2017, 9).

Conclusion In this chapter, I have reflected on my politically situated approaches to intersectionality in a post-war mode, and offered some answers to the methodological question: “Intersectionality, yes, but how?” (Hvenegård Lassen and Staunæs 2020), which extend beyond the grids of categories, and take both micro- and macropolitical entanglements into account. In line with those of the interlocutors in the Pussyhat debates who called for transversal conversations on intersectional issues, and with the Left of Queer editors and contributors, who celebrated a new will to transgress fixed and category-bound archives, I attach hope to the ways in which new urgencies currently seem to be bringing transversal and crosscutting political-theoretical efforts onto the agenda. To create coalitions in the pursuit of planetary, social and environmental justice, the transgression of understandings based on 191

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grids of categories and bounded archives seems pressing, and unorthodox explorations of intersections, employing transversalities beyond previously created boundaries, seem necessary. For decades, theorists such as Gloria Anzaldúa (1987), Audre Lorde (1984) and Donna Haraway (1991), all crucial for feminist theory, have been developing methodologies for unorthodox, composite, dynamic and transformative knowledge production, based on transversal approaches. But it seems as though this way of theorising is currently coming more forcefully and generally to the fore among scholars committed to politics of planetary, social and environmental justice. I see this as a hopeful development!

Acknowledgement Warm thanks to language editor Liz Sourbut for English language revisions.

Notes 1 In an article on “Racial Europeanization”, the critical race theorist David T. Goldberg (2006), made the point that, in post-Second World War Europe, the category of race was displaced in a temporal sense (linked to the Nazi past), in a spatial/geopolitical sense (linked to the USA), or in a political sense (linked to the far right). In my research (Lykke 2020), I have focussed on leftist versions of this erasure, including the whiteness and Eurocentrism of Marxism. 2 In a televised conversation (from 2005) with journalist Billy Bush from Access Hollywood, a US weekday entertainment TV programme, Donald Trump bragged about his sexual relationships with women, among other things making the remark: You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything. When Trump was running for President of the USA in 2016, this video recording was republished by The Washington Post, together with a critical accompanying article, two days after Trump’s appearance in the second presidential debate (October 7, 2016). The quote, with Trump’s reference to acts (touching of a person’s genitals without consent) that are legally considered sexual assault in most jurisdictions of the USA, caused a scandal, and led several women to make allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump (Wikipedia 2021). The Pussyhat Project was started in November 2016, after Trump won the presidential election—in anticipation of the Women’s Marches, under planning as protests against Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 (Pussyhat Project™ 2021). 3 For ethical reasons, I have anonymised the blogposts, replacing original signatures with capital letters.

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Nina Lykke Lutz, Helma, Vivar, Maria Teresa Herrera, and Supik, Linda (2011). Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies. Farnham: Ashgate. Lykke, Nina (1993). Rotkäppchen und Ödipus. Zu einer feministischen Psychoanalyse. Wien: ­ Passagen Verlag. Lykke, Nina (2003). “Intersektionalitet – ett användbart begrepp för genusforskningen?” Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift 1: 47–57. Lykke, Nina (2010). Feminist Studies: A Guide to Intersectional Theory, Methodology and Writing. New York and London: Routledge. Lykke, Nina (2011). “Intersectional Analysis: Black Box or Useful Critical Feminist Thinking Technology?” In Framing Intersectionality – Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies, eds. Helma Lutz, Maria Teresa Herrera Vivar, and Linda Supik (pp. 207–221). Farnham: Ashgate. Lykke, Nina (2014). “Passionate Disidentifications as an Intersectional Writing Strategy.” In Writing Academic Texts Differently: Intersectional Feminist Methodologies and the Playful Art of Writing, ed. Nina Lykke (pp. 30–47). New York: Routledge. Lykke, Nina (2017). “Academic Feminisms: Between Disidentification, Messy Everyday Utopianism, and Cruel Optimism.” Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics 1(1): 1–12. Lykke, Nina (2018). “Rethinking Socialist and Marxist Legacies in Feminist Imaginaries of Protest from Postsocialist Perspectives.” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 24(2): 173–188. Lykke, Nina (2019). “Making Live and Letting Die: Cancerous Bodies between Anthropocene Necropolitics and Chthulucene Kinship.” Environmental Humanities 11(1): 108–136. Lykke, Nina (2020). “Transversal Dialogues on Intersectionality, Socialist Feminism, and Epistemologies of Ignorance.” NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 28(3): 197–210. Lykke, Nina (Forthcoming). “Can Middling Foster New Feminist Coalitions? On Race and Transgender Frictions and Ethics of Unease.” In Making Middles Matter: Feminist Methodologies inbetween Intersectionality and New Materialisms, eds. Katve-Kaisa Kontturi, Milla Tiainen, Tara Mehrabi, Taru Leppanen. Edited Volume. London: Routledge. Massumi, Brian (2002). Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Matsuda, Maria (1991). “Beside My Sister, Facing the Enemy: Legal Theory out of Coalition.” Stanford Law Review 43(6): 1183–1192. Moore, Jason (2015). Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. New York and London: Verso. Nash, Jennifer C. (2019). Black Feminism Reimagined after Intersectionality. London and Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Puar, Jasbir (2007). Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press. Puar, Jasbir (2011). “I Would Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess”: Intersectionality, Assemblage and Affective Politics. Transversal Texts,, Accessed May 4, 2020. Pussyhat Project™ (2021a). Design Interventions for Social Change: The Project of Pussyhat. January 14, 2018,, accessed March 2, 2021. Pussyhat Project™ (2021b). What Is Pussyhat Project?, accessed May 22, 2021. Robinson, Cedric J. (2019). On Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism, and Cultures of Resistance. H.L.T. Quan (Ed.). London: Pluto Press. Shamus, Kristen Jordan (2021). “Pink Pussyhats: The Reason Feminists are Ditching Them.” Detroit Free Press, January 12, 2018, accessed March 2, 2021. Tlostanova, Madina, and Mignolo, Walter (2012). Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. Tomlinson, Barbara (2013a). “Colonizing Intersectionality: Replicating Racial Hierarchy in Feminist Academic Arguments.” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 19(2): 254–272.


“Post-war” Reflections on Intersectionality Tomlinson, Barbara (2013b). “To Tell the Truth and Not Get Trapped: Desire, Distance and Intersectionality at the Scene of Argument.” Intersectionality: Theorizing Power, Empowering Theory 38(4): 993–1017. Tomlinson, Barbara (2018). Undermining Intersectionality: The Perils of Powerblind Feminism. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Wikipedia. 2021. Donald Trump Access Hollywood Tape, Trump_Access_Hollywood_tape, accessed May 22, 2021. Women’s March Florida-Pensacola (2021). Women’s March Florida-Pensacola, January 3, 2018; Facebook, accessed March 2, 2021. Yuval-Davis, Nira (1997). Gender & Nation. London: Sage.



Analyzing Intersectionality How to Use It

15 INTERSECTIONAL ICONOGRAPHY Promise, Peril, Possibility Jennifer C. Nash

On a spring morning in 2018, I left an exercise class in a neighbourhood on the North Side of Chicago. My eye was drawn to a row of pink stickers that were decorating a lamppost in front of the studio: “Expect intersectional resistance”. A few days later, as I walked through another North Side neighbourhood, I passed someone carrying a tote bag that said “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit”. This chapter was born of the convergence of events that week, and by a group of friends who have helped me build an archive of images—products, signs, tote bags, mugs—which hail an understudied aspect of intersectionality: its status as a visual object. Over the course of the last decade, I have kept track of intersectionality’s appearance in popular life. Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, I have been particularly attuned to intersectionality’s visual iterations, and attentive to how the term is as likely to appear on mugs and T-shirts, on tote bags and stickers, as it is to appear in scholarly articles. In many ways, this is what makes intersectionality distinctive: it has a public life that few, if any, other terms in feminism’s life have enjoyed. And much of this life is lived on clothes, mugs, stickers, keychains, pins, scarves, and hats. For some scholars, intersectionality’s robust public life is evidence of intersectionality’s “origins” outside of the academy. Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, for example, insist that intersectionality “began” in activist circles and then moved into the university where it became a kind of “critical social theory” (Bilge and Collins 2020; Collins 2019). Their collective work underscores intersectionality’s populist, public, and activist roots, and decentres the role of academic feminism in developing intersectionality’s innovations. My scholarship on intersectionality aspires to disrupt narratives around intersectionality’s origins, arguing that these narratives all too often find black feminists claiming proprietary relationships to intersectionality or reducing all black feminist scholarly work to intersectionality (Nash 2019). Thus, my turn towards intersectionality’s public life is not born from a desire to narrate the term’s activist or nonacademic roots. Instead, I trace how intersectionality has long had a life inside and outside the academy, and is often mobilised and inflected differently in both areas. It travels on and with academics like Patricia Hill Collins and Kimberlé Crenshaw, and on and with public intellectuals like Rachel Cargle and Blair Imani, both of whom offer digitally curated materials on black feminist theory generally and intersectionality specifically. My work seeks to 199

DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-19

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attend to the multiple iterations and voices intersectionality speaks in, and to capture how both Crenshaw’s canonical Demarginalizing the Intersections of Race and Sex and Cargle’s The Great UnLearn digital coursework are crucial vehicles through which intersectionality comes into public view. This chapter suggests that it is time for serious engagement with intersectional iconography, and that this engagement should take the form of neither a romanticisation of intersectionality’s public work nor the form of bemoaning the commodification and appropriation of black feminist innovations. Instead, I emphasise that intersectional iconography is crucial for scholarly investigation because intersectionality moves through the world visually. While scholars have studied how intersectionality travels in the pages of scholarly journals, it also travels on tote bags that are filled at farmers markets, with gym clothes, with books, with children’s toys, with lunch and groceries, and on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and signs that are carried at marches and placed in front of houses to announce a political world view. As I argue in my book Black Feminism Reimagined, the idea of “travel” has become central to how black feminist scholars describe—and agonise over—intersectionality’s at-times disorienting movement into spaces, fields, and disciplines that feel unfamiliar and even hostile. In this chapter, I inflect travel differently, reading intersectionality’s visual life as a crucial way of thinking through the term’s “travels”. If the visual is how we encounter this term, and if this term is increasingly—as I argue in my earlier work—tethered to both promise and pitfall, it is worth sustained analysis of how the visual contributes to intersectionality’s representation as both a world-opening possibility and a world-ending threat. This chapter is also an endeavour to think about how the visual logics of intersectionality—its status as metaphor—have come to shape the term’s lives and afterlives, the ways it is imagined and understood. This chapter largely sidesteps the question of intersectionality as a Left political bona fide—one that can be made visible by wearing an intersectionality shirt, carrying an intersectionality tote bag, or drinking from an intersectionality mug—though I take up this question in some of my other scholarly work. It is certainly the case that some of intersectionality’s elevation to body art, to political slogan adorning T-shirts and posters, has to do with various actors mobilising intersectionality to claim a solidarity with black women who are increasingly described as the conscience of the US Left, as the only political subjects who vote in ways that support collective life, who offer the only sustainable vision of humanity, and who are imagined to be fleshy embodiments of intersectionality. Even as I flag the US Left’s hailing of black women as the nation’s political conscience—made visible in slogans like “thank black women” and “let black women lead”—it is certainly not the case that power has been ceded to black women. Instead, the US Left performs its romance with black women by repeatedly reminding us that everything we know, or have come to know, black women already knew. The manifestations of this romance can take myriad forms, ranging from the widespread celebration of Stacey Abrams after President Biden’s election (which often included calls to publicly thank Abrams, and to ensure that Abrams had a place in the Biden administration) to the call to “thank black women” after the Alabama special election in 2017 where 98% of black women voters supported Democrat Doug Jones. Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, took to Twitter to remark “Black women led us to victory. Black women are the backbone of the Democratic party, and we can’t take that for granted. Period” (@TomPerez, December 13, 2017). Perez’s celebration of black women voters echoed Brittney Cooper’s statement “I believe black women are the saviors of this country” (Cooper 2018, online). In much of my earlier work, I interrogate the Left’s rhetorical romance with black women, examining both why 200

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it is deeply seductive to black women and black feminists (much better to be treated as morally correct than pathological and contributing to the downfall of the state), and why it is still part of treating black women not as complex subjects, but as symbols. This also has the effect of treating black women’s intellectual production as a site of moral certitude rather than as a long, generative, and complex history of debate, disagreement, and dissent. The move to intersectionality as wearable art, as a shield that covers the body, can be understood—at least in part—as a way of proclaiming one’s affiliation with black women, and one’s disavowal of white feminism. As Samantha Pinto and I argue in our analysis of the contemporary construction of “white feminism”, white women have come to be feminism’s bad—or perhaps even worst—object (Nash and Pinto, 2021). White feminism now circulates, oftentimes synonymously with “white women”, to represent the most problematic form of feminism (even as it is questionable how it even relates to feminism), and to describe the most problematic feminist actors. White feminism has come into particular view in the period following Trump’s presidential election in 2016—the same period when intersectionality has been hailed as feminism’s future. In the weeks following Trump’s election, as some of the country engaged in soul-searching to explain the election’s outcome, the mainstream media repeatedly reported that white women had been instrumental in securing Trump’s victory. And in the months that followed, a growing chorus of journalists interrogated how and why it is white women—often deemed “Karens”—who are agents of antiblack violence, whether in the case of Amy Cooper (in Central Park), Lisa Alexander (the San Francisco white woman who called the police after seeing a man of colour stencilling BLM on his own property), or Jennifer Schulte (deemed “BBQ Becky” by the internet). Images of white women in MAGA hats cheering for Trump, media coverage of white women violently policing black people and enlisting the state to surveil black people, and descriptions of white women “weaponising” tears to their own ends cemented the idea that white women are feminism’s problem. In a moment when intersectionality is hailed as feminism’s future, precisely what liberates us from the imagined exclusivity of feminisms past and present, white feminism is hailed as its opposite: anachronistically and violently attached to the state, to carcerality, to the idea of gender as shared and singular. To insist that’s one feminism is intersectional is to spotlight the violence of white supremacy “masquerading” as feminism, to orient oneself towards black women rather than white women, and to invest in the narrative—the fiction—that these are two diametrically opposed identities. And to make this insistence visible, to wear this insistence, is a way of publicly claiming a kind of political virtue. I offer this brief rehearsal of the contemporary feminist landscape to acknowledge that some of the move towards wearable intersectionality is a way of marking bodies—particularly white bodies—as emphatically not-Karen, not-Becky, as aligned with black women. The shirt, the mug, the tote bag, then, can be mobilised as evidence of a performance of feminism that refuses “white feminism”, and that aligns itself with black women’s imagined political needs and desires. My analysis in this chapter aspires to be mindful that wearing intersectionality can be a performance of an anti-Karen politics, but I also sit with intersectionality’s other visual projects, meanings, and endeavours.

Visual Archives In turning attention to the visual life of intersectionality, I emphasise that intersectionality has always been a visual endeavour. In my other earlier works on the term intersectionality, 201

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I describe the term as “irresistibly visual”, and emphasise the importance of understanding intersectionality as metaphor (Nash 2011, 455). In her canonical article Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex, Kimberlé Crenshaw offered two metaphors to explain intersectionality. Both were committed to allowing readers to visualise intersectional harm and to imagine intersectional justice. In the first, she analogises black women’s experience of discrimination to traffic flowing through an intersection. She writes: Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. (Crenshaw 1989, 149) Crenshaw’s first analogy insisted on the importance of recognising black women’s embodied presence “in the intersection”, and how black women navigate forms of violence that are multi-directional. While this analogy has travelled far and wide, with intersectionality often visually represented as a crossroads, the article also offered a second spatial analogy to describe black women’s location vis-à-vis anti-discrimination law. This second analogy, which Anna Carastathis argues requires critical attention, finds Crenshaw offering a pointed critique of the logic of anti-discrimination law (Carastathis 2013). Crenshaw writes: Imagine a basement which contains all people who are disadvantaged on the basis of race, sex, class, sexual preference, age and/or physical ability. These people are stacked—feet standing on shoulders—with those on the bottom being disadvantaged by the full array of factors, up to the very top, where the heads of all those disadvantaged by a singular factor brush up against the ceiling. … In efforts to correct some aspects of domination, those above the ceiling admit from the basement only those who can say that ‘but for’ the ceiling, they too would be in the upper room. … Yet this hatch is generally available only to those who—due to the singularity of their burden and their otherwise privileged position relative to those below—are in the position to crawl through. (Crenshaw, 151) Part of what is striking about this analogy is Crenshaw’s commitment to thinking about the corporeality of violence, her representation of black women’s bodies as literally supporting the weight of those who stand on their shoulders. Here, discrimination quite literally takes a toll on black women’s flesh. But this analogy is also committed to revealing the flaws of anti-discrimination law which require articulating harm as either race-based or genderbased, remedying the violence that only the most privileged marginalised people experience, and leaving vulnerable the most marginalised. This is the heart of Crenshaw’s critical project: revealing how a legal regime ostensibly designed to protect the most marginalised actually leaves them violently exposed, distinctly vulnerable to forms of harm that law simply ignores. Crenshaw is not alone in her spatial conceptualisation of black women’s locations and identities, her insistence on the visual as a crucial register for examining and describing black women’s embodied experiences. Ann duCille, naming her ambivalence around the complex institutionalisation of black feminist studies, describes “the traffic jam that black 202

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feminist studies has become” (duCille 1994, 593). Like Crenshaw, duCille describes the threat of the intersection by noting “one of the dangers of standing at an intersection— particularly at such a suddenly busy, three-way intersection—is the likelihood of being run over by oncoming traffic” (duCille, 593). What duCille and Crenshaw share is their commitment to offering a visual lexicon for imagining black women’s particular and distinct experiences of harm, violence, and subjectivity. It is worth wrestling with how this early visual vocabulary shaped how intersectionality continues to rapidly circulate as something that is visualised as much as it is discussed, described, or debated. It was meant to be seen, to be imagined. In this chapter, I study three iterations of the visual life of intersectionality: the product (the tote bag, the mug, the shirt), the movement sign (which became its own product after the Women’s March and Trump’s election) and the meme where intersectionality appears in digital culture. In my readings of all three objects, I resist the impulse to bemoan how intersectionality appears on these objects and travels through the world through objects (and the bodies that don those objects). Instead, I aspire to sit with these objects to grapple with how each narrates intersectionality in a visual register, offering its viewers (and its wearers) ways of understanding intersectionality’s power, and perhaps its shortcomings as well.

Travelling Tote Bags The Society 6 website features a designer, Rachel Frankel, selling a brightly coloured intersectionality tote bag. Society 6 bills itself as a “thriving community of independent artists worldwide, each with their own unique designs” (Society 6, Online) and Frankel’s tote bag is just one of many intersectionality-inspired products the website sells. There are art prints that rehearse Audre Lorde’s oft-quoted “there is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not lead single issue lives”. There are signs that playfully proclaim “talk intersectional feminism to me”, and a pillow that announces that “the revolution will be intersectional or it will not be revolution”. And then there are tote bags: “intersectionality makes me horny”, a celebration of “intersectional intergalactic feminism”, and Frankel’s colourful bag that says “intersectional feminism or bust” (during the pandemic, the website also sold a matching intersectionality face mask). Frankel’s page notes that the proceeds from the intersectional feminism products are themselves politicised: all proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood (a US based reproductive health non-profit) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I begin my investigation of intersectionality’s visual logics with the tote bag because it is a crucial way that intersectionality moves through space, and it is as an object that makes the case for intersectionality’s capacity to cover, envelop, encompass, and touch everything else. Thus, I read the tote bag not merely as an advertisement for intersectional politics (or belief, since so often intersectionality is an article of faith) but also a statement of intersectionality’s capacity to literally encase other objects—tangible or abstract. Before I turn to the tote bag’s capacity to encase other objects, it is important to note that it is not an uncomplicated object. Myriad tote bags (and mugs and signs) include a slogan that now travels apart from its author: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit”. Flavia Dzodan titled an essay with this sentence and it has become a slogan, a political sign, and a phrase that adorns tote bags. The phrase is described by one news source as “helping proliferate” the idea of intersectional feminism (here we see another origin 203

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story where the term begins not with Crenshaw, Collins, or Combahee but in the popular imaginary) (Romano 2016, online). Aja Romano reports, “But thanks to the rise of one of her quotes as a catchall mantra for feminism, she’s seen her own words turned into a cash machine, one that she is powerless to stop” (Romano, online). Dzodan has offered critical reflections on the fact that her phrase has become a product, one that not only travels apart from her name and recognition of her authorship on tote bags across the world, but without any compensation for her phrase. She writes: Now, imagine for a second, my face when I recently found out that there is a vast array of merchandise that bears those words and my name for sale on the internet. T-Shirts (more than one model actually), pins, tote bags (you, too, can go to the market sporting a durable canvas bag with a slogan!), posters (hello #wokebae whose image was poorly photoshopped with my name on a poster!), coffee mugs, cross stitched frames (I cringed when I saw my name listed on a “graduation present” listicle on Bustle on par with women I only dream of ever emulating). The most egregious of these items is probably this cutesy little pin with a blond little girl picking flowers (I mean, really?! Have you seen a photo of me with my very curly, thick black hair?!). Sometimes they do not even spell my name right. And here we go back to talking about the difficult things. Because this merchandise exists within the context of my own life: in all the years I have been “writing on the internet”, I have made a grand total of a bit over 1000 euros. That’s right. In almost a decade of constant output, I have made I’d say an average of 140 euros per year. (Dzodan qtd. in Romano, online) Dzodan’s reflections on watching her words travel to markets she never imagined, in ways she never would have anticipated, often detached from her name, and without compensation, raises enduring questions about the politics of citationality in black feminist thought. What does it mean, she asks, to have one’s words travelled (or taken?) apart from one’s name? She also asks a question about compensation and valuation, another question that has come to be central to black feminist thought, particularly as black feminism is practised in the academy. With calls to not only recognise black women’s labour (and to stop saddling black women with unnecessary or superfluous diversity labour), the call for black women to be fairly compensated has circulated with new velocity. It is worth thinking about both Dzodan’s claims that her work is taken without credit and compensation alongside Frankel’s donation of proceeds from her work to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Together, these pleas call attention to the complex questions of profit, credit, and value that swirl around intersectionality when it moves through the world not just as a visual object but also as a commodity. We might ask when does credit—and profit—end? If Dzodan, for example, offers a pithy sentence celebrating intersectionality, should Crenshaw or Collins or Combahee also “profit”? And what forms might that “profiting” take given the black feminist tradition’s longstanding critique of conventional and hegemonic conceptions of value? I mention this here—in the context of the tote bag—to mark my refusal to consider the tote bag as a politically innocent object, and to complicate calls to celebrate, cite, or appreciate as ways of getting us out of the challenges this moment brings. Instead, I sit with the tote bag and ask what it signals and signifies as it moves through the world. My own experiences with the intersectionality tote bag—both Frankel’s and others that I have 204

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spotted at farmers markets, bakeries, cafes and gyms—is that there is a class politics to these bags (and even to the reusable cloth tote bag, ongoing debates about plastic bag taxes and the race and class politics of the modern environmental justice movement). This tote bag moves objects through the world and in so doing, suggests that intersectionality might have that capacity, that it might be able to encompass various kinds of objects, whether the literal objects lugged in tote bags or multiple political ideologies and beliefs. In this vision it is not merely that intersectionality is itself mobile, it is that intersectionality can hold other objects. Here, intersectionality in its canvas iterations is a sign of its capaciousness, it can be spread open to carry more. This is a vision of the analytic’s radical possibility, its capacity to be expansive, to be capacious, to open feminist politics up to forms of world-making and freedom dreaming that it had not envisioned possible yet.

On Movement Signs Movement signs have become a genre. In the wake of the women’s marches after Trump’s election in 2016, images from marches—particularly images of signs designed by marchers— circulated. Most famously Angela Peoples’ sign that said “Don’t forget, white women voted for Trump” went viral. The carefully composed image that rapidly circulated on social media featured Peoples holding her sign. Behind her were three white women wearing so-called “Pussyhats”, each seemingly absorbed by capturing the energy of the march on their phones. Alia E. Dastagir described the image as “a big deal”, and noted “To many, the now viral image of a sober-looking Angela Peoples and the blithe faces of the white women behind her epitomise a divide between white women and black women that was unmistakable in the 2016 election. More than 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump, while nearly 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. The split signals how these groups experience sexism and oppression differently” (Dastagir 2017, online). In December 2017, 11 months after the photograph was taken, Peoples published an editorial in The New York Times: My message stood in stark contrast to the theme of togetherness that dominated the Women’s March—the pink “pussy hats” and “girl power” placards, and chants about how women would lead the resistance. This was exactly the point. I made the sign to communicate that in a world where 53 percent of white women voters chose a racist, elitist sexual predator for president, the idea that we all want the same thing is a myth. The point wasn’t to antagonize the Women’s March participants, who were mostly white. Rather, I wanted to highlight that on a national level, white women are not unified in opposition to Trumpism and can’t be counted on to fight it. (Peoples 2017, online) Though Peoples’ sign never mentioned intersectionality, it was often taken as a visible symbol of the Women’s March’s pitfalls and promise. Peoples’ sign epitomised the critical political challenges that intersectionality raises, and the challenges—and even threat—it was thought to pose to feminism. The march was imagined to provide unity, a public display of outrage in the face of Trump’s election, but in the weeks following the march, there was endless debate as to whether the march had been adequately “intersectional”, if the Pussyhat—the icon of the march—was transphobic, and whether a singular march in response to various forms of violence was possible. Peoples’ sign—and the image that 205

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captured it—was a perfect icon for the moment that intersectionality found itself in: suddenly, on its biggest and most public stage. Intersectionality—imagined to be embodied by black women—was the opposite of “white feminism”—embodied by white women. Depending on how you interpret the image—and perhaps depending on your politics— Peoples’ sign is either a call for a form of intersectional feminism that undoes the violence of white supremacy or an unwelcome interruption in a moment that promises feminist unity against misogyny. Since the Women’s March, movement signs have been collected and published in art books (like Why We March) that work, in part, to make visible feminism’s continued relevance and vibrancy, its urgency in the face of the Trump presidency. These collections often include myriad images of signs that champion feminism’s multiplicity, and the particular capacity of intersectional feminism to respond to the conditions of the present. But how might we understand the market for these signs (and the market for coffee table books that celebrate these signs), and how do they represent intersectionality in a moment when it was both political possibility and peril? Here, the movement sign becomes an indication that intersectionality has not ruined feminism but enhanced it, that it can be incorporated into the body of feminism and even stand for feminism itself. The movement sign that hails intersectionality’s urgency becomes evidence of the capaciousness of feminism itself, its capacity to contain intersectionality. But there is another story: one about the politics of impossibility that marks intersectionality. Indeed, Peoples’ image could be taken as evidence of a story that has long tracked intersectionality and black feminist theory (and even black women): that it is a difficult theory. What happens if even the election of a violent misogynist cannot unite feminists together under the mantle of feminism? Intersectionality’s real or imagined demand for a Left project that could think Islamophobia, transphobia, carcerality, misogyny, and antiblackness simultaneously, that refused the icon of the Pussyhat, offered a vision—utopic or apocalyptic—of a Left movement that centres the multiply marginalised and that thinks across multiple forms of violence and their intersections. This was a political vision that many found to be impossible. And the movement sign with its call for an intersectional feminism that is not bullshit can be interpreted as representing a desire for an impossible object, a feminism that could never be simply because it is required to hold so much. Here we might think with the contrast with the tote bag which I interpret as revealing that intersectionality can hold it all. The movement sign shows that intersectionality’s imagined call for holding multiple political desires can lead to collapse, or at least fatigue. Perhaps the market for the signs that offer the fiction of a coherent feminist politics exist and proliferate precisely because they provide a fantasy, one that intersectionality relentlessly punctures with its refusal of cohesion, and its insistence on a Left provisional, messy, and fraught coalitional politics.

This Theory Is Not a Sofa It appeared on Twitter—and it still does from time to time: the intersectional sofa. This is not a sectional sofa, but an intersectional sofa. Sometimes it appears as a confession that one’s own sofa is intersectional. Sometimes it appears as a wish for an intersectional sofa. What do we make from this meme, aside from its humorous play on the sonic similarity between “sectional” and “intersectional?” What does it mean when intersectionality


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becomes a meme, or something that circulates in digital space as a play on its travels, its familiarity, and the confusion around the term and its lives? Here, intersectionality travels not as product or political commentary but as a site of humour, a gentle jab at how the term circulates in ways that often seem comical, departed from its imagined roots, confused or conflated with other terms (e.g., the number of times I have heard “intersexual” and “intersectional” confused). And it also captures a set of political desires where even the most mundane object—the living room sofa—can be a performance of one’s politics: make that sectional sofa intersectional to show just how woke you are. Ange-Marie Hancock’s work develops the idea of intersectionality as meme. She asks, “For the past four years I’ve been traveling to conferences and publicly grappling with the idea of whether intersectionality can be the intellectual property of a single demographic group or whether it is in fact a meme” (Hancock 2016, 11). She continues: The Wikipedia approach to defining intersectionality is consistent with what is conventionally defined as a meme. … [M]emes are units of cultural transmission. … Whereas genetic transmission involves a direct copy from one parent to an offspring (e.g., all three of my father’s daughters inherited his slightly crooked index finger), memes are translated more loosely. Their definitions highlight the central challenges of intersectionality theory today: the transmission process from one individual to another is by imitation and the ramifications of the transmission process—copied and spread rapidly with slight variation. (Hancock, 11) Hancock’s notion of intersectionality as meme (which she distinguishes from intersectionality as “intellectual property”) frames my understanding of the intersectional sofa—yet I read the idea of the intersectional meme as revealing something about the comical as well. If intersectionality circulates with intense velocity, it circulates in a surprising way. It turns up in unexpected places, and attaches to objects, affects, and performances that might feel surprising, particularly for those of us who are trained in or otherwise attached to black feminist intellectual genealogies which recognise intersectionality as a form of seeking justice for the multiply marginalised. The intersectional sofa—in its delightful absurdity—calls attention to intersectionality’s myriad popular manifestations and appearances, revealing not that the term is elastic, but that its usages are. It suggests that intersectional has become an adjective that modifies so many things—including sofas—that we can think neither of the success or failure of the analytic in this regard, and instead only examine the distance it has travelled, marking even political desires for furniture to articulate a worldview. The meme is repeated, it circulates, it moves on Twitter and Instagram, much as intersectionality is repeated, circulated, and in digital transit. And here the intersectional sofa meme comes to represent how intersectionality continues to appear and re-appear. The endless rehearsal of this joke, then, allows us to see intersectionality being made and remade in the visual register in real time, and requires us, as viewers, to ask us: how does that feel for you? For me, the endless repetition of intersectionality in unfamiliar and surprising contexts reveals and stages precisely what has unsettled black feminist scholars and activists about the term: it moves in strange ways. It is taken up to describe surprising objects. Its meaning is endlessly in flux in ways that the intersectional sofa makes comically hypervisible.


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What’s the Future? If wearable feminist products have become all the rage, so has one particular phrase: “The future is…”. The future is female. The future is trans. The future is genderqueer. The future is intersectional. This term appears on all of the products I have mentioned, hailing a utopian vision of a different kind of future-time, one marked by new forms of relationality, new kinds of politics, new visions of freedom. This refrain reminds us that the unbearable conditions of the present can be re-imagined, re-made, challenged. And this refrain suggests that feminism—in its varied forms—is essential to imagining a liveable future. The fact that this slogan appears on shirts, bags, movement signs, memes, and mugs also emphasises that we need to be able to visualise the future we want, even if that vision is still forming. In this chapter, I ask what happens if we attend to intersectionality’s visual iterations and treat the deeply public visual life of intersectionality not as adjacent to the term, as a misreading of the analytic or as a problem, but as central to how intersectionality’s possibilities, perils, and pleasures are culturally represented and understood. When intersectionality appears at the grocery store on a tote bag, on a runner’s chest in the form of a T-shirt, on a mug filled with coffee, or as a joke on Twitter, its meanings expand, morph, and shift. It is here that I think we find something truly powerful: intersectionality is not yet certain—it will not ever be—and while its capacity to shift (or be shifted) can engender uncertainty, unhappiness, or even, as I argue elsewhere, defensiveness, it also suggests its continued power as a tool of radical imagination and becoming. The visual seems to promise us certainty—it makes what is abstract and hard to grasp tangible and clear. And yet intersectionality’s visual iterations show us something perhaps unsettling: that intersectionality is not-done, ever-changing, and still constantly shifting.

References Bilge, S. and Collins, P. H. (2020). Intersectionality (Key Concepts). New York: Polity. Carastathis, A. (2013). “Basements and Intersections.” Hypatia, 28.4: 698–715. Collins, P. H. (2019). Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Cooper, B. (2018). “I Believe Black Women Are the Saviors of This Country.” com/watch?v=hnoAqamMsP4 Crenshaw, K. (1989). “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1: 139–167. Dastagir, A. E. (2017). “Why this women’s march photo is such a big deal.” USA Today. https://www. duCille, A. (1994). “The Occult of True Black Womanhood: Critical Demeanor and Black Feminist Studies.” Signs 19.3: 591–629. Hancock, A. (2016). Intersectionality: An Intellectual History. New York: Oxford University Press. Nash, J. C. (2011). “‘Hometruths’ on Intersectionality.” Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 23: 455–470. Nash, J. C. (2019). Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Nash, J. C. and Pinto, S. (2021). “A New Genealogy of ‘Intelligent Rage,’ or Other Ways to Think About White Women in Feminism.” Signs 46.4: forthcoming. Peoples, A. (2017). “Don’t Just Thank Black Women. Follow Us.” New York Times https://www. Perez, T. (2017). @TomPerez Romano, A. (2016). “This feminist’s most famous quote has been sold all over the internet. She hasn’t seen a cent.” Vox.


16 INTERSECTIONALITY AND HEALTH INEQUALITY Methodological Reflections Anna Bredström

Introduction In the spring of 2021, as this chapter is being written, we are one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has called attention to the fact that health is unequally distributed and that the less privileged suffer from more ill-health than the more privileged. While age is the most significant risk factor, both race/ethnicity and socioeconomics have been highlighted as highly important in epidemiological accounts of COVID-19 with increased mortality among poor and racialised groups (e.g. Drefahl et al. 2020; Podewils et al., 2020; Public Health England, 2020). The highly noticeable health disparities of COVID-19 have led to a “call for action” among many scholars and organisations engaged in equal health (Laurencin & McClinton, 2020). The Association for Black Cardiologists in the US has, for instance, pointed to how the pandemic “presents an opportunity to decisively address race-based or ethnicity-based inequalities that undermine cardiovascular health” (Chin-Hong et al., 2020, p. 3). An increasing attention to racial and ethnic health disparities would, of course, be a welcome development. However, health disparities are complex: in the Swedish debate, race and ethnicity have almost exclusively been viewed through the lens of socioeconomics and class, and little attention has been paid to structural and institutional racism, both within the healthcare sector and beyond (Bredström & Mulinari, 2022). Also, in relation to COVID-19, gender and age are equally addressed as important categories for the disease’s epidemiology, but little is known of how they relate to race, ethnicity or class. Intersectional methodologies that seek to address not one but multiple health inequalities simultaneously are well-served to address this complexity. In this chapter, leaving the pandemic aside, I will focus on exploring the concept of health disparities from an intersectional perspective. I will use three cases that are key to the current interest in health disparities both in medical research and health policy: (1) the drive towards a more personalised and precise medicine; (2) implementation of equal health policy in clinical practice and (3) the use of social categories in epidemiology and health statistics. In developing intersectional methodologies, I will start from Leslie McCall’s (2005) distinctions between anti-, intra- and intercategorical complexity, which fit my three cases. The chapter ends with a 209

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discussion where I address the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and argue for the importance of intersectional perspectives for medicine and healthcare.

Return of a Difference Paradigm in Medicine The concept of health disparities has, since the 1990s, increasingly been used to describe group-level differences in health (Braveman, 2006). It is often used interchangeably with health inequalities, and it is frequently applied in health policy alongside other concepts such as health equity. The differences between them seem to be more random than conceptual, but it is sometimes argued that health disparities is used more commonly in the US, where it mainly refers to racial and ethnic disparities, whereas health inequalities has been the preferred concept in Europe, where the primary focus has been on socioeconomic inequalities and gender (ibid.). In this chapter, I will use the concepts consistent with the sources I reference, which means that I too, will use them interchangeably. In describing the history of these concepts, Braveman (2006) refers to the influential paper by Whitehead (1992), produced for the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office in Copenhagen. Whitehead points out that: The term inequity has a moral and ethical dimension. It refers to differences which are unnecessary and avoidable but, in addition, are also considered unfair and unjust. So, in order to describe a certain situation as inequitable, the cause has to be examined and judged to be unfair in the context of what is going on in the rest of society. (p. 431, emphasis in orig.) Throughout its contemporary history, and intimately tied to the development of global health policy, health disparities thus refer to differences that are connected to broader power structures in society, i.e. they do not refer to just any health-related differences between groups or places. Rather they are described as “systematic differences in the health of groups and communities occupying unequal positions in society” (Graham, 2004, p. 101). The concepts are also often raised in relation to social determinants of health such as work environment, social support, food, education, etc. (Wilkinson & Marmot, 2003). The increasing interest in addressing social differences in health can thus be seen as an important step towards health justice for subordinated groups. Lobbyists and activists are also put forward as key actors for the development of a revitalised “paradigm of difference” in medicine, as Steven Epstein (2007) has shown. Armed with statistics on ill-health among both women and ethnic and racial minorities, activists in the US managed to get acceptance for their aims. Medicine, they argued, has to give up the one-size-fits-all approach, and start doing research on non-white, non-male bodies, and adapt medical findings to others than the “standard human”, i.e. the white heterosexual middle-class man. These activists’ claims have since become institutionalised, and biomedical research, as well as health policy and clinical practice, are much more inclined to attend to both racial/ethnic and gendered differences. Parallel to this development promoted by activists, there has been another drive towards a difference-in-medicine paradigm, this time from within biomedicine itself. Under the labels of “personalised” or “precision” medicine, the past decade has seen an intense search for how to translate cutting-edge knowledge in human genetics to diagnostics and treatments in the clinical setting. To understand this development, one must be acquainted with 210

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human genetics and in particular the shift within genomics research that has taken place since the completion of the Human Genome Project around the new millennium. The shift is often referred to as the post-genomic era, and it refers to both the time period after the mapping of the human genome was completed, and to the genomics knowledge produced since then (Richardson & Stevens, 2015). The shift is epistemic: from having been seen as the “script for human life”, genetics proved to be much more complex and much less deterministic. Before the shift, the Human Genome Project was presented as the final disproof of racial biology. As President Clinton said when the first draft was completed: “One of the great truths to emerge from this triumphant expedition inside the human genome is that in genetic terms all human beings, regardless of race, are more than 99.9 percent the same”.1 However it did not take long for scientists to shift focus from the 99.9% sameness to the 0.01% difference. Soon after the human genome had been sequenced, large-scale international consortiums were established, all with the goal of mapping genetic variants in different populations. Part and parcel of the post-genomics focus on complexity has thus been the mapping of genomic differences across and between populations. I will return to the genetics discourse, but I would like to end this paragraph by pointing out how “genomic difference” projects are linked to the health inequality discourse put forward by health activists. To begin with, some of the arguments used by health activists draw upon genetics research. Health activists, African American health activists in particular, have been active proponents of genomic difference research as part of establishing more knowledge on health differences. In their view, more precise and individually tailored medicine will be beneficial in the battle against health disparities. Others remain more sceptical. With the genomic difference projects, “eugenics” come sneaking in “through the backdoor”, Troy Duster argues (2003), and points to how it may lead to a geneticisation of race and ethnicity given that geneticists frequently use racial, ethnic and national as proxies for different populations. The geneticisation of race and ethnicity (as well as of gender and sexuality) has also had important consequences for health policy, critics argue. Cathrine Bliss (2005) shows that in the 1980s and early 1990s, health disparities along racial and ethnic lines were conceptualised primarily as socially and environmentally inflected. With genomic difference studies, research and policy started to re-examine health disparities from a more resolutely biological standpoint. Thus, when the drive towards difference within biomedicine coalesces with the drive towards social justice from health activists, the critical edge may be weakened.

Intersectionality as a Methodological Tool The concept of intersectionality has a different trajectory than that of health disparities. It stems from black feminism (Crenshaw, 1989; Collins, 1998) and has been animatedly theorised and discussed in gender studies (e.g. de los Reyes et al., 2003; Davis, 2008; Lutz et al., 2011; Carbin & Edenheim, 2013), and also more broadly in social science and the humanities (e.g. Lutz, 2010). The concept is much less often applied in the social science of medicine and health, but a systematic review of published peer-reviewed articles on intersectionality and public health shows an increasing interest since the mid-2000s (Couto et al., 2019). This review demonstrates that various intersections were addressed in the different studies; in addition to race/ethnicity and gender, also present were sexual identity, class, age/ generation, migration/citizenship status and religion. Many of the studies in the review focussed on sexual health and women’s health, but there were also studies on stress, 211

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epidemics, and health policy. The review also highlights some key studies that attend to the theoretical contribution that intersectional perspectives may have on health and medicine. Hankivsky and Christoffersen (2008) address, for instance, the benefits of an intersectional approach for the “social determinants of health” framework. The mainstream theoretical discussion on social determinants, they argue, suffers from a lack of “critical social science perspectives” foregrounding the underlying social structures that “drive health determinants”. To that end, intersectionality is a useful concept with its historical roots in black feminism that places power structures at the heart of the analysis. Moreover, intersectionality is useful for health and medicine as it does not favour one category, nor treat single categories as exclusive. To the contrary, intersectionality urges us to pay attention to how further power structures would affect our analysis (Matsuda, 1991), and to always situate and contextualise our claims. Bowleg (2012) also points out that an additive or multiple approach whereby analytical categories are treated separately has its limits for public health, and that intersectional perspectives pave the way for “unanticipated findings”. Here she refers to studies where the ill-health of black women would not have been revealed if race and gender had been studied separately. This chapter contributes to this discussion on what an intersectional approach can do for health and medicine, focussing in particular on its methodological advantages. Here, I will argue that intersectionality can be seen as a methodological tool that can be used for both qualitative and quantitative purposes. However, how to conduct an intersectional analysis is not self-evident, and I agree with those who see the need to illuminate underlying onto-epistemological tenets in order for the concept to be used fruitfully (Gressgård, 2008). It is often emphasised that intersectionality is not an additive approach—i.e. it is not sufficient to simply pile different relations of power as additional layers of oppressions, defining white women as oppressed by patriarchy, black women by patriarchy and racism, black lesbian women by patriarchy, racism and heteronormativity (or homophobia). Nor is intersectionality to be understood as a multiple approach by which the same material is analysed from different perspectives, exploring first the gendered and then, afterwards, the racialised aspects of the material (Hancock, 2007). Rather, the intersection symbolises a meeting point, a point where the different categories merge and their separateness dissolves. Yet the concept remains vague. Exactly how different categories merge and relate to each other remains at the centre of the theoretical debate. Davis (2008, p. 69) even argues that the “vagueness and open-endedness of ‘intersectionality’ may be the very secret to its success” as it speaks to a wide audience and addresses a “fundamental concern” (e.g. differences among women) with a “novel twist”. One of the scholars who has taken this vagueness as its starting point is Leslie McCall. In her well-known article “The Complexity of Intersectionality” (2005), McCall captures three different approaches among intersectionality scholars, conceptualised as anti-, intra- and intercategorical complexity. As the prefixes indicate, McCall’s focusses on onto-epistemological and methodological differences echoes the broader discussion on poststructuralism versus structuralism within scientific theory. McCall proposes that the anticategorical approach best fulfils the promises of intersectional analysis. It rests upon postmodern views of categories as never fully able to capture the heterogeneity and unstableness of the social world, applying deconstructive methodologies. Thus, McCall locates poststructuralist feminists under the anticategorical heading. An exact outline of the anticategorical approach, however, is difficult to accomplish, she argues, since poststructuralist feminists by default have been bundled together with approaches to intersectionality 212

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developed foremost by women of colour. The latter do not share the same stance on categories but belong rather to the intracategorical approach to intersectionality. The confusion is understandable, McCall argues, as the intracategoricalists acknowledge that categories are socially constructed and subjected to change. However, they remain more sceptical towards the political effects of rejecting categories altogether because, after all, researching the experiences of “women” and “blacks” has been central in developing both feminist and critical race theories. What we need, they argue, are identity categories (and politics) that are more sensitive to differences within each category and the complexity between them. Thus, rather than using deconstructive methodologies, intracategorical feminists have looked to narratives from under-researched groups, often racialised women (Bastia, 2014), pointing to how intersections of foremost race, gender and class are played out in specific research sites. Finally, in her own work, McCall has employed the intercategorical approach. This approach is located at the more structuralist end of the spectrum and “provisionally adopts existing analytical categories to document relationships of inequality among social groups and changing configurations of inequality along multiple and conflicting dimensions” (McCall, 2005, p. 1773). In this chapter, I set out from these three different approaches to problematise the concept of health disparities and the difference-in-medicine discourse from an intersectional perspective. My aim is twofold. Firstly, I will show the importance and usefulness of an intersectional perspective in health and medicine. Secondly, by applying McCall’s three approaches, I will show how intersectionality can be used as a methodological tool, and also how it is not an established set of procedures but rather an approach that can be effectively combined with other social science methods that share the same ontological and epistemological vantage point.

Case 1: Anticategorical Complexity and Precision Medicine The first case applies an anticategorical intersectional approach to the current advances of a more personalised or precise medicine. In McCall’s framing of this approach, the use of categories is rendered suspect because they have no foundation in reality; on the contrary, reality is an outcome of language, and the use of categories is a way to force “a stable and homogenizing order on a more unstable and heterogeneous social reality” (McCall, 2005, p. 1777). The anticategorical methodology thus implies a critique of the use of categories as such, “it inevitably leads to demarcation, and demarcation to exclusion and exclusion to inequality” (ibid.). An anticategorical analysis of precision medicine will thus focus on how categories are used in this discourse, and to what effect. As mentioned earlier, the precision medicine discourse stems from recent developments in biomedicine, in particular genetics, which have revitalised a paradigm of difference through an increasing interest in genetic differences within and between populations. The main motivation behind mapping and researching genomic differences is to identify genetic information that is medically relevant, for instance, genetic mutations that can be linked to a specific disease. In most cases, the link is not absolute, rather, the discourse is probabilistic, i.e. genetic susceptibility typically means that you have a risk, or an enhanced risk, for developing a particular disease. The mutations on the Breast Cancer genes (BRCA) that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer syndrome serve as a good example here. Prior to their discovery in the mid-1990s, women had to rely on their family history, which proved to be a poor predictor of disease. 213

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The identifications of the BRCA mutations changed the scene as they made it possible to detect a “genetically defined” risk. The BRCA gene analysis nevertheless establishes risk only, i.e. it does not diagnose disease. Yet, the language of science tends to wipe out such distinctions and to be genetically at risk of something is increasingly becoming a diagnosis of its own (Happe, 2013). The BRCA genes were identified prior to the full sequencing of the human genome. Since then, genomic science has undergone a major revolution. The so-called next generation sequencing technologies, launched in 2005, made it possible to sequence the full genome much faster and at a lower cost than before. Furthermore, advanced computer science technologies enabled the processing of a huge amount of information. This development was of immense importance to precision medicine with its dreams of being able to target the exact drug for the exact disease in a specific body. In order to know the exact match, the risk of false positives must be eliminated. Thus, geneticists argue for the importance of global databanks with detailed genetic information about genomic variation within and between different populations. The differences are mutations on the DNA strings. Certain mutations are traceable as they are inherited from parent to child over generations. This is why direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies can find relatives through DNA, and can describe the likelihood of a person’s ancestry in terms of geographical belonging, seeing how certain mutations are tied to particular areas of the world. Most importantly, mutations can be linked to likelihood of developing certain diseases that in similar ways can be linked to families and populations. The discourse around populations in genomic science rests however on a number of problematic presumptions, in particular the idea that genes mirror geography. Both genetic “admixture” (i.e. genetic mixture from ancient populations’ migration and interaction patterns) and present-time immigration are often identified as methodological problems when a genetic substructure of a particular population is charted. In doing so, geneticists make a distinction between those who genetically belong to the specific population and those who do not (Bredström & Mulinari, 2020). As such, they add a genetic component to the social categories of ethnicity, race and nation, omitting the fact that these categories are subjected to change and are highly sensitive to historical context (Fujimura & Rajagopalan, 2011). This way of querying the construction of race, nation and ethnicity in precision medicine is consistent with an anticategorical approach. In her list of anticategorical scholars, McCall highlights poststructuralist feminists who question analytical categories of gender, women and men. She points to how anticategorical approaches thus contribute to knowledge on how gender is stabilised and gender power sustained through the normalisation of women and men. She also mentions psychoanalytical feminists who problematise differences within oneself. In a similar vein, one could approach the way social categories of race, ethnicity and nation are constructed and normalised as biologically and medically relevant categories in precision medicine. However, while I think that the examples McCall uses can illustrate what an anticategorical approach to categories is, they do not show the simultaneous constructions of more than one category linked to each other in ways that make them inseparable. The BRCA gene is illustrative also in this regard. As mentioned, the BRCA gene shifted focus from family history to genetic susceptibility. However, with human genomic difference research, new knowledge was added to the scene. As it turned out, the BRCA mutations were also more common among certain populations, in particular Ashkenazi Jews, but also African American women in the US, who, epidemiologically speaking, are more severely affected by breast cancer (Happe, 2013). While such knowledge 214

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may be immensely important for health justice, it also reduces the social categories of race and ethnicity to a genetically identified difference at the same time as it constructs race and ethnicity through a gendered body (ibid.). As such, from an anticategorical perspective, both race and gender are simultaneously constructed, and the anticategorical approach thus captures both the instability of the categories and their intersection.

Case 2: Intracategorical Complexity and Migrants’ Health The second case that I will discuss, this time using an intracategorical approach to intersectionality, is that of health policy and equal health. Policy on equal health often highlights specific “target groups” which, for the most part, correspond to groups that have been identified in epidemiological studies as more vulnerable to the disease in question. The Public Health Agency of Sweden, for instance, identifies “refugees”, “people with disabilities” and “LGBTQ people” as particular target groups. Other categories that the agency put forward are “youth” and “elderly”, as well as “women”. Race and ethnicity are not used in statistics in Sweden, but “country of birth”, “foreign born” and citizenship status work as their proxies. Needless to say, all of these categories are important to equal health. The development of a gender-sensitive medicine that is attuned to the fact that gender and sex affect both women’s and men’s health, and that gender is ingrained in all medical practices—from research to the clinical setting—have been both ubiquitous and utterly important to equal health. Yet as a strategy it has not been sufficient to meet the needs of all women and men. To the contrary, by prioritising gender and sex and applying routine-like questions about gender differences in medicine, Hankivsky (2012) argues, other power structures have been treated as secondary or as separate to gender and sex. Hankivsky also shows how race and social class shape women’s and men’s ill-health to the extent that a single focus on gender would conceal more than it would reveal. Identifying different target groups therefore treats categories as separate units in line with a “multiple” rather than an intersectional approach (Hancock, 2007). An intersectional perspective calls attention to the limitations of such a strategy. Instead, in adopting an intersectional approach, target groups are fleshed out in all their complexity. Focussing on complexity within a specific category also characterises an intracategorical approach. In a research context, qualitative studies exploring migrants’ health can benefit from an intracategorical approach. To exemplify, I will draw upon a study that I conducted together with a colleague, Sabine Gruber, between the years 2010 and 2014 (Bredström & Gruber, 2015; 2017). The study explored the treatment of patients with migrant backgrounds in different primary healthcare settings. Through observations and interviews we studied how healthcare staff at maternity healthcare clinics, youth centres and primary healthcare clinics treated and talked about patients with different ethnic backgrounds. The field work was conducted in different locations, including clinics in the countryside, in a middle-size city and in a large city. All clinics had patients of migrant backgrounds as one of their primary patient groups and were located in multiethnic residential areas or next to an accommodation centre housing asylum-seekers. There is much to say about how ethnicity was constructed in the everyday clinical practice, but for our purposes here, one particularly relevant finding is the lack of explicit policy or guidance among the staff. Almost none of the approximately 55 healthcare staff that we interviewed had any particular training in ethnic relations, migration or multiculturalism. 215

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Except for the use of language interpreters and some information materials being translated into other languages (Bredström & Gruber, 2015), the clinic itself had not been adjusted to fit an ethnically diverse patient group to any significant extent. Thus our study became largely a study of how healthcare staff conceptualised ethnicity, and how this affected their everyday practice and the treatment of patients with migrant backgrounds. Our experience was of healthcare staff struggling to make sense of the patients in front of them. How the individual healthcare provider acted depended in part on the composition of the staff itself. The primary healthcare clinics commonly consisted of a heterogeneous group of healthcare staff both in terms of background and in terms of professions, and we saw many examples of staff using each other’s experiences to interpret, for instance, the patient’s way of expressing symptoms. At the maternity healthcare clinics, we saw the opposite. Most of these clinics were inhabited by a very homogenous group— the majority were midwives, and almost all of them were middle-age women of Swedish background. Here the patient group were “othered” to a larger extent, and often met with a mix of curiosity and distance. Mostly the staff’s understanding resonated with dominant discourses of migrant integration that portray migrants as less “modern” and, foremost, more “patriarchal” than Swedes. However all of those we interviewed took great pride in their work and often made considerable efforts to help their patients, many of whom had complex situations and were looking for help beyond their medical needs. From the outset, we knew that gender was of interest to our project. Our choice of clinics—maternity clinics, primary healthcare clinics and youth clinics—was made with the idea that these clinics meet patients who may struggle with gender-related health matters, but who find themselves in different situations in life. Against that background it was perhaps no surprise that gender was highly present in our material. From an intracategorical intersectional perspective, we saw how migrant men and migrant women were treated differently. This was particularly telling in maternity healthcare. Despite the fact that maternity healthcare has an explicit aim to reach partners/fathers and for them to be more involved in pregnancy and child-rearing, “migrant” fathers’ involvement was met with suspicion (in particular if the father had a Middle-Eastern or North African background). These fathers’ concerns and engagement were not interpreted as an aspiration for gender equality, rather they were seen as patriarchal and controlling. Class made a difference here too, as did age: “Migrant” women, and men with higher levels of education had more room to manoeuvre such discourses (Bredström & Gruber, 2017). Our study thus problematises both gender and ethnicity as single categories, but also points to the way they intersect, in particular how notions of patriarchy figure as an ethnic marker, as part of our intracategorical analysis.

Case 3: Intercategorical Complexity and Epidemiology In the third and final case we turn to McCall’s intercategorical approach. The approach is sometimes also simply called categorical as it does not seek to do away with categories but rather to make them more nuanced and detailed. Thus the approach does not aspire to the same deconstructive tenets as the anti- and intracategorical approaches, and, whereas the anti- and intracategorical approaches are mostly applied as qualitative, interpretative methods, the intercategorical approach fits well with quantitative and descriptive studies. This makes it an important intersectional method for health and medicine. Not only is the field dominated by quantitative research, but epidemiology and health statistics are 216

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crucial to health equality. Simply, to have evidence of the inequality, we need to “know the numbers”. Epidemiology, which is basic to public health, constitutes a quantitative science that uses biostatistical methods and focusses on populations rather than individuals. With the development of social determinants of health perspectives, epidemiologists increasingly pay attention to social causes of how a disease is distributed over time in a specific location (Wemrell et al., 2017). Epidemiological categorisation often relates to social groups such as women and men, people born inside and outside of the nation, etc. In addition to gender, race and ethnicity, epidemiological studies frequently include socioeconomic status and age. Depending on the disease, other categories may also be relevant. HIV epidemiology, for instance, focusses on sexuality, and differentiates between men who have sex with men and heterosexual transmission. Sometimes women who sell sex constitute an additional category. HIV statistics can be used to illustrate the limits of epidemiology. Some of these limits come with the quantitative, descriptive approach which only presents the frequency and pattern of the disease, but does not tell us much more. For instance, HIV statistics tell us nothing about the context in which the unsafe sexual practices take place—information that is crucial for policy interventions. It is also common that the route of transmission is conflated with identity, leading to “risk identities” that end up being stigmatised and even blamed for the disease. In relation to HIV, men who have sex with men have been particularly impacted, as have people born south of the Sahara (Bredström, 2008). However, the most important constraint for our discussion on the intercategorical approach to intersectionality is the fact that HIV statistics narrow down to one epidemiological category at a time. Early on in the HIV pandemic, HIV policy was heavily criticised for constructing same-sex transmission as indirectly white and gay, whereas heterosexual transmission was linked to racialised groups such as migrants from the southern parts of Africa in Europe. White heterosexual masculinity was thus made invisible, as were samesex practices among women. White heterosexual femininity was at times present in these studies; women were defined primarily as partners/victims of racialised men or as women who sell sex (Wilton, 1997). All of these categories mirrored the HIV statistics that for a long time reported, for instance, men who have sex with men, sex-selling women, and transmission abroad, often with a note indicating that transmission abroad was primarily heterosexual (Bredström, 2008). HIV statistics today, at least in Sweden, are somewhat more nuanced, yet the categories remain far too broad to capture the complexity of social life. That quantitative studies do not capture complexity is also the main argument put forward by McCall for an intercategorical approach. The approach takes as its starting point that inequality exists “among already constituted social groups, as imperfect and ever changing as they are” (McCall. 2005, p. 1785), and that measuring inequality is the focus of the analysis. However, this should be done without falling into the traps of “homogenizing and simplifying” found in category-based research. Therefore, the focus should be on multiple groups—not single groups or complexity within a single group. McCall suggests that using quantitative methods, an intercategorical study should systematically compare multiple groups, for instance, white men, white women, black men, black women—or, white middle-class men, white middle-class women, white working-class men, white workingclass women, black middle-class men and so on. Thereby, a more accurate picture of the complexity of social life is described, even if, as Lutz and Amelina (2021) point out, the 217

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social constitution of the categories is not problematised to any greater extent, but only their interaction. McCall points out that the method also has its drawbacks, in particular the sheer numbers of tables and comparisons that such a study must encompass. However, the method has been picked up by several scholars in health and medicine who argue its benefits for studying topics such as mental ill-health (Bauer & Scheim, 2019), heart disease (Wemrell et  al., 2017), vaccination (Mulinari et al., 2017) and transgender health (Wesson et al., 2021). These studies show how, also in quantitative terms, intersectional inequalities are not a question of mere addition. Intercategorical studies may for instance show that, quantitatively speaking, the ill-health of a racialised group of women may be more than double the ill-health of white women (Bowleg, 2021). Some of the authors engaged in the intercatorical analysis of health have also played an important role in developing intersectionality as a quantitative method more generally. They have pointed to the risk of reproducing categories when studies become too descriptive. Therefore, as the argument goes, an intercategorical study needs to explicitly address power relations in society: “To intersectionality research on health disparities, the object of interest is how interacting systems of power drive incidence”, Wemrell et al. (2017, p. 214) write, and Bauer and Scheim (2019, p. 237) argue that scholars should shift from a “descriptive intersectionality” to an “analytic intersectionality that also seeks to identify the casual processes that drive inequalities of outcomes, while necessarily allowing for processes to unfold heterogeneity across intersectional groups”.

Conclusion Social studies of medicine have often argued the need for interdisciplinary perspectives to understand health matters, and have questioned the ways in which health matters are often restricted to the sphere of medicine only. The need for social scientists’ perspectives is particularly imperative when it comes to understanding health disparities that occur along the lines of gender, race/ethnicity and class. Intersectionality is useful in this regard, and it further develops social studies that have a one-sided focus on a single category, be it a target group in policy or a specific category used in biomedical research or epidemiology. This chapter has discussed how intersectionality could be used as a methodological tool in the context of health and medicine. Using three different cases, I set out to show how different aspects of health disparities can be explored in an intersectional framework. However, in so doing, it is important to first consider the ontological and epistemological points of departure for one’s research problem. Following an anticategorical approach, categories are deconstructed and their inherent instability revealed, illustrating that categories are always in the making. The approach easily fits with post-structural feminist theory and discourse theory, as well as with new materialism and post-humanism. While the former pay attention to language and how the making of categories takes place in the ways they are articulated in everyday talk as well as in more structured and formalised speech, new materialist and post-humanist accounts would focus on how categories are also produced in the shape of assemblages where the material circumstances play a critical role (Puar, 2007). In the case of an intracategorical approach, deconstructive methodologies can be used, as can ethnographic methods such as observation and interviews. However, intracategorical approaches can also apply quantitative methods (Bauer & Scheim, 2019), as long as they focus on exploring the complexity and heterogeneity within a specific category. Mostly 218

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however, quantitative methods are applied using an intercategorical approach where the interrelations between multiple categories are systematically mapped and compared. For social studies in health and medicine, all three approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. The intercategorical approach has been criticised for being too descriptive, and uncritical towards the social foundation of the categories under study. To avoid such criticism, it has been suggested that intercategorical studies should include an explicit reflection on how categories are linked to power structures in society. Such studies are indeed useful for health research. Even though health disparities have received more attention recently, biomedical perspectives still far outweigh social perspectives on medicine and health. Epidemiological studies that capture the complexity of how social structures affect health outcomes in different groups in a nuanced and detailed way will thus be an important counter-discourse to the knowledge on health differences produced in biomedicine. They will also be useful for health policy. Far too often ill-health among subordinated groups is blamed on the individual or group itself, instead of on social structures and power relations in society. To problematise such “blame-the-victim” processes in relation to health, the anticategorical approach could be a useful tool. With an anticategorical approach, the very foundation for categories to emerge in health discourses is scrutinised. As shown, it can be relevant to problematise intersections of race, gender, class etc., but also to query the tendency to naturalise these categories as biomedically relevant categories with reference to biological (genetic) essential differences. The intracategorical approach shares with the anticategorical approach the conviction that categories are socially constructed and contingent, yet the intracategorical approach remains more ambivalent to rejecting categories altogether. Translated to a health context, an intracategorical approach would acknowledge the need to identify vulnerable groups and promote health rights for specific groups, while also addressing the complexity within a particular target group. For instance, it could be to identify and design clinical interventions for “subgroups” such as LGBTQ migrants, or create awareness of how gendered discourses partake in constructing ethnic differences—an awareness that is fundamental in order not to reproduce institutionalised racism in healthcare by default. Therefore, regardless of whether you find categories useful or not, intersectionality has much to offer for anyone interested in developing a rich and more equal understanding of health and medicine.

Note 1 Excerpts from Clinton’s talk published in the New York Times, 27 June 2000. (Downloaded 2021-06-30).

References Bastia, T. (2014). “Intersectionality, migration and development”, Progress in Development Studies, 14(3), 237–248. Bauer, G. and Scheim, A. (2019). “Methods for analytic intercategorical intersectionality in quantitative research: Discrimination as a mediator of health inequalities”, Social Science and Medicine, 226, 236–245. Bliss, C. (2005). “Defining health justice in the postgenomic era”. In Richardson, S. S. & Stevens, H. (Eds.), Postgenomics: Perspectives on Biology after the Genome (pp. 174–191), Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


Anna Bredström Bowleg, L. (2012). “The problem with the phrase women and minorities: Intersectionality – an important theoretical framework for public health”, American Journal of Public Health, 102(7), 1267–1273. Bowleg, L. (2021). “Evolving intersectionality within public health: From analysis to action”, AJPH, 111(1), 88–90. Braveman, P. (2006). “Health disparities and health equity: concepts and measurement”, Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 167–194. Bredström, A. (2008). Safe Sex, Unsafe Identities: Intersections of “Race”, Gender and Sexuality in Swedish HIV/AIDS Policy. Linköping: Linköping University. Bredström, A. and Gruber, S. (2015). “Language, culture and maternity care: ‘Troubling’ interpretation in an institutional context”, Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 5(2), 58–66. Bredström, A. and Gruber, S. (2017). “Närvarande och frånvarande fäder: intersektionella perspektiv på jämställdhetsstrategier i svensk mödravård”, TGV, 38(3), 9–30. Bredström, A. and Mulinari, S. (2020). “Svenska gener? Om stratifierad precisionsmedicin och genetikens etniska gränsdragningar”, Fronesis, 66/67, 65–81. Bredström, A. and Mulinari, S. (2022). “Conceptual unclarity about COVID-19 ethnic disparities in Sweden – Implications for public health policy”, Health, Carbin, M. and Edenheim, S. (2013). “The intersectional turn in feminist theory: A dream of a common language?” European Journal of Women’s Studies 20(3), 233–248. Chin-Hong, P., Alexander, K. M., Haynes, H., Albert, M. A., & The Association of Black Cardiologists. (2020). “Pulling at the heart: COVID-19, race/ethnicity and ongoing disparities”, Nature Reviews Cardiology, doi. 10.1038/s41569020-0416-6. Collins, P. Hill (1998). “It’s all in the family: Intersections of gender, race and nation”, Hypatia 13(3): 62–82. Couto, M. T., Oliveira, E., Separavich, M. A. A., & Luiz, O. C. (2019). “The feminist perspective of intersectionality in the field of public health: a narrative review of the theoretical-methodological literature.” Salud Collectiva 15:e1994. doi: 10.18294/sc.2019.1994. Crenshaw, K. (1989). “Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics”, University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989, 139–167. Davis, K. (2008). “Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful”, Feminist Theory, 9(1), 67–85. de los Reyes, Paulina, Molina, Irene and Mulinari, Diana (red.) (2003). “Intersektionalitet som teoretisk ram vs mångfaldsperspektivets tomma retorik”, Kvinnovetenskaplig Tidskrift, 3–4, 159–162. Drefahl, S., Wallace, M., Mussino, E. et al. (2020). “A population-based cohort study of sociodemographic risk factors for COVID-19 deaths in Sweden”, Nature Communications, 11(5097). Duster, T. (2003). Backdoor to Eugenics. New York: Routledge. Epstein, S. (2007). Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Fujimura, J. and Rajagopalan, R. (2011). “Different differences. The use of ’genetic ancestry’ versus race in biomedical human genetic research”, Social Studies of Science, 41(5), 5–30. Graham, H. (2004). “Social determinants and their unequal distribution: clarifying policy understandings”, Milbank Q. 82(1), 101–124. Gressgård, R. R. (2008). “Mind the gap: Intersectionality, complexity and ‘the event’”, Theory and Science 10(1). Hancock, A. (2007). “When multiplication doesn’t equal quick addition: Examining intersectionality as a research paradigm”, Perspectives on Politics, 5(1), 63–79. Hankivsky, O. (2012). “Women’s health, men’s health, and gender and health: Implications of intersectionality”, Social Science and Medicine, 74(11), 1712–1720. Hankivsky, O. and Christoffersen, A. (2008). “Intersectionality and the determinants of health: a Canadian perspective”, Critical Public Health, 18(3), 271–283. Happe, K. (2013). The Material Gene: Gender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project. New York: New York University Press.


Intersectionality and Health Inequality Laurencin, C. T. and McClinton, A. (2020). “The COVID-19 pandemic: a call to action to identify and address racial and ethnic disparities”, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 7, 398–402. Lutz, H. (2010). “Gender in the Migratory Process”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(10), 1647–1663. Lutz, H. and Amelina, A. (2021). “Gender in Migration Studies: From Feminist Legacies to Intersectional, Post- and Decolonial Prospects”, Zeitschrift für Migrationsforschung, 1(1), 55–73. Lutz, H., Herrera, V., Maria, T. and Supik, L. (red.) (2011). Framing Intersectionality: Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies. Farnham: Ashgate. Matsuda, M. J. (1991). “Beside my sister, facing the enemy: Legal theory out of coalition”, Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1183–1192. McCall, L. (2005). “The complexity of intersectionality”, Signs, 30(3), 1771–180061. Mulinari, S., Wemrell, M., Rönnerstrand, B., Subramanian, S.V., and Merlo, J. (2017). “Categorical and anti-categorical approaches to US racial/ethnic groupings: Revisiting the National 2009 H1N1 Flu Survey (NHFS)”, Critical Public Health, 28(2), 177–189. Podewils, L., Burket, T., Mettenbrink, C. et al. (2020). “Disproportionate incidence of COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations, and death among persons identifying as hispanic or latino – Denver, Colorado March–October 2020”, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(48), 1812–1816. Puar, J. K. (2007). Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Public Health England. (2020). Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19, (GW-1447). Richardson, S. and Stevens, H. (Eds.) (2015). Postgenomics. Perspectives on Biology after the Genome. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Wemrell, M., Mulinari, S. and Merlo, J. (2017) “Intersectionality and risk for ischemic heart disease in Sweden: Categorical and anti-categorical approaches”, Social Science and Medicine, 177, 213–222. Wesson, P., Vittinghoff, E., Turner, C. et al. (2021). “Intercategorical and Intracategorical experiences of discrimination and HIV prevalence among transgender women in San Francisco, CA: A quantitative intersectionality analysis”, American Journal of Public Health, 111(3), 446–456. Whitehead, M. (1992). “The concepts and principle of equity in health”, International Journal of Health Services, 22, 429–425. Wilkinson, R. and Marmot, M. (2003). Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts, 2nd ed ­Copenhagen, Denmark. Wilton, T. (1997). EnGEndering AIDS: Deconstructing Sex, Text and Epidemic. London: SAGE.


17 INTERSECTIONALITY AS CRITICAL METHOD Asking the Other Question Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz1

Introduction While most scholars in the field of gender studies are convinced that intersectionality is essential to good feminist theory, it is not always clear how intersectionality should actually be used in the context of research. Many believe that intersectionality is just what they need for the kind of critical, cutting-edge research they want to do. However, appreciating intersectionality as theoretical perspective and knowing how to use it are two different things. In practice, intersectionality raises a lot of questions that prove quite difficult, if not impossible, to answer. For example, which categories should be included in an intersectional analysis? Lutz and Wenning (2001, 20) have provided a list of no less than 14 lines of difference (gender, sexuality, race or skin colour, ethnicity, national belonging, class, culture, religion, able-bodiedness, age, migration or sedentariness, property ownership, geographical location and status in terms of tradition and development). In fact, the list may be even longer (see also Amelina and Lutz 2019, 11). The idea that one would need to use that many categories in a single analysis seems pretty daunting. Sometimes we assume that particular categories will always be part of an intersectional analysis. For example, as feminist scholars, shouldn’t gender always be included? (see Bereswill & Neuber 2011)2 Some scholars have suggested that we should always stick to the Big Three—gender, race and class—and then add on other differences, depending on the context or the specific research problem (Leiprecht & Lutz 2009). Others have been less worried about which categories to use than whether we should be using categories at all (see, McCall 2005).3 Often essentialism is regarded by gender studies scholars as a cardinal sin, causing them to wonder whether the focus on categories is not going to get them into even more serious theoretical trouble (from the frying pan into the fire). Their main concern is, therefore, how to actually analyse the intersections, once it has been decided which ones are relevant (Yuval-Davis 2011). Others still question whether intersectionality alone is sufficient to make their research critical/ cutting-edge/subversive or whether additional theoretical tools are necessary (Knapp 2005; Dhawan 2017). Taken together, these questions indicate that many feminist researchers struggle with uncertainties concerning how to apply intersectionality to their own research concerns. In short, they feel they need a methodology. DOI: 10.4324/9781003089520-21 222

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Asking the Other Question The US feminist scholar Leslie McCall (2005) has addressed the issue of developing a methodology for doing intersectional research. She argued that the concept of intersectionality would be considerably more useful if it were accompanied by more stringent methodological guidelines concerning where, how and to what end it could be used in feminist enquiry. While McCall (2005) acknowledged that intersectionality could be used to reveal the complexity of categories (as has been the case within feminist post-structuralism) or to examine the cross-cutting categories of identity among specific groups (as Crenshaw and others have done with regard to Black women), she also believed that an inter-categorical approach to intersectionality would provide possibilities for a more sophisticated methodology. She, therefore, advocated moving away from the almost exclusively qualitative approaches to intersectionality which had been given priority so far and proposed instead a more rigorous quantitative methodology which would focus on “the complexity of relationships among multiple social groups within and across analytical categories” (McCall 2005: 1786) rather than on single groups, single sites or single categories. The subject of intersectionality would then become multi-group and multi-comparative. While this call for a quantitative methodology seems to provide a solution for many of the uncertainties described above, it also introduces a host of new problems.4 For example, it relegates intersectionality to the realm of the social sciences, thereby discounting much of the interesting work which can be done within the fields of literary criticism, philosophy, anthropology, legal and cultural studies. Furthermore, it prevents submitting single case studies, which have so often been used productively in studying migration, sexual violence, citizenship, belonging, chronic illness and disability from further methodological refinement.5 But— and this is our main concern—the equation of better methodology with quantitative research seems to put an end to intersectionality as a creative methodology—a methodology which is ideally suited to looking for new and often unorthodox ways of doing feminist research. Methodologies are not written-in-stone guidelines for doing feminist enquiry, nor a onesize-fits-all recipe for feminist research. Instead, methodologies should—and here we agree with McCall—provide help in doing research. While we certainly appreciate her desire to develop the promising concept of intersectionality in ways which will actually help feminist scholars do better research, we disagree that better research simply requires more complexity and more stringent procedures. Methodologies should also stimulate the researcher’s curiosity and creativity.6 They should not produce straight-jackets for monitoring research, but rather stimulate scholars to raise new questions, engage reflexively and critically with previously held assumptions and explore unchartered territory. Above all, they should mitigate against premature closure. In this chapter, we will not provide a recipe for how to do intersectional research. Nor will we offer a solution to the uncertainties which plague most of us when we begin thinking intersectionally. Instead, we want to propose something different by taking up the (deceptively) simple procedure for understanding the interconnections between all forms of subordination, which Maria Matsuda refers to as “asking the other question”: When I see something that looks racist, I ask, “Where is the patriarchy in this?” When I see something that looks sexist, I ask, “Where is the heterosexism in this?” When I see something that looks homophobic, I ask, “Where are the class interests in this?” (Matsuda 1991, 1189) 223

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We say ’deceptively’ here because, as anyone who has tried will know, this merely marks the beginning of the analysis. The hard work of making sense of the intersections between categories of difference and interpreting them in terms of power still remains to be done. Nevertheless, we will show how Matsuda’s simple procedure of ‘asking the other question’ might be employed to help us do better—that is, more comprehensive, more complex, more interesting and more relevant feminist research. In principle, this procedure can be employed at any stage of the research process: prior to beginning the research or after the research has started, or even after the fact in order to think of ways to recycle or rethink the work that has already been done.

Analysing the Life Story of an Activist In the following paragraphs, we draw upon an interview conducted with Mamphela Ramphele in 1999 by the well-known oral historian Mary Marshall Clark which we contextualise using two autobiographies written by Ramphele herself (1996; 2014). The interview was part of a Carnegie project on South African history set up to gather oral histories of South Africans who had been involved in the struggle against Apartheid. Clark, a white civil rights activist with a long-time interest in African American history and human rights activism, was also Director of the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University. When we asked her whether she had an oral history interview we could use to explore the intersections between gender and race, she immediately exclaimed: “I have just the right interview for you—Mamphela Ramphele. She was an important anti-apartheid activist and [this said with a twinkle in her eye] Steve Biko’s lover”. We seized upon this suggestion as a perfect opportunity to implement our project of investigating race and gender intersectionally. Before we describe how we used Matsuda’s procedure of ’asking the other question’ to do this, a few words are in order about Ramphele herself. Mamphela Ramphele is an extraordinary woman in many ways. In addition to being an impressive personality, Ramphele is interesting for having lived through one of the most important societal transitions in modern times—a transition which has been inspirational for anti-racism movements across the globe. She was born in a township in Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo) on December 1947 to a family of teachers. As the youngest child of six siblings (five brothers and one sister), she attended school, studied medicine and went on to become one of South Africa’s first Black female doctors. She initiated many joint political projects as comrade and soulmate of her long-time lover Steve Biko, the renowned founder of the ‘Black Consciousness’ movement, whose assassination during his imprisonment in 1977 triggered a worldwide campaign against apartheid. She had two children with Biko, one of whom died as a baby; and she raised her son who was born after Biko’s murder as a single parent, supported by her family network and domestic workers. Because of her political activities against the apartheid regime, she was imprisoned and later banned for many years. During her 1970s political activism, Ramphele founded the first medical care centre for the impoverished Black population. After her banishment ended, she studied anthropology, became a researcher and published many books on themes like poverty and racism, higher education, affirmative action, violence and sexual harassment, migrant labour and the particular needs of women and children in South Africa, to name a few. During the late 1980s she became a university lecturer and in 1996 the first Black woman to head a South African university (University of Cape Town) as Vice Chancellor. A well-known public figure, Ramphele has made her appearance both inside and outside South Africa. She was a 224

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personal friend of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and other anti-apartheid leaders whom she supported in the process of moving towards a democratic post-apartheid South Africa. At the beginning of the 21st century, she moved to Washington DC where she became one of the four managing directors of the World Bank—the first South African to hold that position. On behalf of the World Bank, she developed models for the equitable solution of the debt issues in countries of the Global South. On her return to South Africa in 2013, she established a new party, called Agang (Build South Africa), with the aim of challenging the powerful ANC. She became the presidential candidate of the Democratic Alliance in the general elections of 2014. As an avowed feminist, Ramphele addressed gender inequalities and initiated the establishment of the first gender research institute in South Africa, similar in structure to the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College in the US, where she herself had spent an academic year. The interview with Mamphela Ramphele was not a typical biographical narrative, whereby the respondent can start her or his life story at any point of their choosing. Clark asked Ramphele questions about different periods in her life with the explicit aim of reconstructing the history of apartheid South Africa in which she played an important role. In order to analyse the interview ‘intersectionally’, we were immediately faced with the complicated question of how to describe the interviewee. For example, should Ramphele be presented, first and foremost, as a pioneer of the Black Consciousness Movement? Or should she be portrayed instead as one of South Africa’s first Black women doctors? Or is she better seen as an academic pioneer and as the woman who founded the first institute for gender studies in South Africa? Clearly, portraying someone as multi-faceted as Ramphele was no easy task for anyone interested in analysing the ways gender and race intersect in a life story. As long-time biographical researchers, we have always used the narratives of people’s lives to better understand the broader social issues that interest us as feminist sociologists. Situated in the field of qualitative enquiry, biographical researchers pay close attention not only to what people remember about their lives, but also to how they construct their narratives and, through these narratives, their identities.7 Life stories provide a perfect starting point for an intersectional analysis because they show how hierarchies of power based on socially constructed differences actually intersect and how people make sense of and negotiate power relations in their own lives. In the next section, we show three ways of using Matsuda’s procedure of ’asking the other question’: to situate oneself as researcher prior to beginning the analysis; to discover and make sense of blind spots that emerge during the analysis; and, finally, to complexify thinking about power relations. We apply these to the analysis of the life story of Mamphela Ramphele.

Situating the Researcher We began our intersectional analysis by examining how our social location—and, to a lesser degree, that of the interviewer—might have shaped our initial assumptions about Ramphele’s narrative. Locating oneself at the beginning of an enquiry is the only way to avoid what Donna Haraway has called “the god trick”—“the conquering gaze from nowhere” (Haraway 1991: 188) which plagues much of mainstream science. Haraway has rightly argued that to be critical, feminist researchers must admit at the outset of their enquiry that the knowledge they are producing is always situated and, therefore, inevitably partial and 225

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reflexive. While few feminist scholars today would take issue with the importance of situating oneself as epistemological stance, in practice it is sometimes implemented by providing a list of the researcher’s identities—for example, “as a white, middle-class, heterosexual woman, I….”. Judith Butler (1989:143) has called this the “embarrassed etc. clause”, an endless list of predicates that strive to encompass a situated subject, but invariably fail to be complete. Indeed, the differences are endless. However, aside from highlighting the fact of multiple identities, such a list does not do much work and may, ironically, end up becoming an excuse for not doing the necessary analysis of situating one’s self. We discovered that our desire to analyse Mamphela Ramphele’s biography as told in the interview had hardly been an innocent endeavour, but was shaped by our own social locations as white feminist scholars with an interest in and affinity for anti-racist, postcolonial scholarship. We had long been critical of the neglect of race and racism in feminist scholarship, a critique that led to our embracing intersectionality as a way to “bring race and gender together” (see Lutz & Davis 2009). We hoped that Ramphele’s life history would allow us to implement our project—namely, to demonstrate that it is impossible to talk about gender without talking about race. Given the dire history of apartheid in South Africa, we assumed that racism would have played a central role in shaping Ramphele’s life story. We viewed her as a Black African, a woman and as an anti-apartheid activist, in that order. Our own intellectual and political agenda as well as our social location as white, European academic feminists allowed us to mobilise Ramphele’s story for our project—a project which was very much directed at an audience of white feminist scholars who we felt needed to be convinced that racism and gender inequality are entangled. While there is nothing inherently wrong with our intentions, they shaped the way we were able to ‘hear’ and read Ramphele’s story. Our perceptions mirrored the way the white US interlocutor Mary Marshall Clark shaped the interaction in the interview itself. As a former civil rights activist, she was clearly attuned to the issue of racism in the interview with Mamphela Ramphele. Moreover, given her project which was devoted to anti-apartheid activism in South Africa, it is not surprising that she was particularly interested in her interview partner’s role as an activist in this movement. She was also an extremely competent oral historian who would have wanted to facilitate Ramphele, helping her to tell her story as she saw fit, yet, at the same time, she presumably would have wanted to shape the interview in accordance with her own interests and preoccupations.8 Here is an example that illustrates how interviewers can gently push an interview in the direction of their own agenda. Ramphele is describing slaughtering rituals in her family and the way her mother bravely resisted the convention that women and children should receive the smaller or tougher portions of meat. Her mother decided that “enough was enough” and gave the children the nice, tender pieces of meat for a change. Ramphele admires her mother for refusing to give men control over the food she has cooked and concludes: “You had to make up your mind. I mean, if men didn’t want to feed children, they shouldn’t be cooking” (Ramphele, I.7). At this point, the interviewer intervenes with a question: Thank you. I wanted to ask you a harder question, also about your childhood. Thinking back, what were some of the first instances in which you really realized the tremendous race barrier set up by the system of apartheid? Because you were really growing up in a stronghold of Dutch Reformed, Afrikaner culture. (I.7) 226

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What we see here is not merely an attempt to change the subject by moving on to another childhood experience. Rather, the interviewer shies away from Ramphele’s highlighting of her mother’s resistance to gendered authority over the distribution of meat. Instead she frames what is to come as a “harder question”—the question of race as a “tremendous barrier” in the context of apartheid. She presents Ramphele as particularly influenced by apartheid (“growing up in a stronghold of… Afrikaner culture”) and, in this way, reframes Ramphele’s story from one about resisting gender hierarchies to one about living with the barrier of race. To our surprise, this is how Ramphele responded: Well, that was very early on in my childhood when I was probably six or seven. There was a community conflict which centred around the Dutch Reformed minister who was in charge of the village where we were, refusing to have one of the old ladies, who was the mother of one of the people living there, to be buried in the cemetery because he said she was a heathen, which means she was a non-believer and therefore didn’t belong. The fact that her children lived in the village and had been nursing her up to the time of her death didn’t bother him. So there was a huge row, and the woman eventually was forcefully buried there against the minister’s wish. And of course, after that the police were called in, and the people were driven off the mission station. And you could then see just how brutal the police were and the language that was used. And, of course, after that one observed this minister in operation. When I came back to the village after the conflict had died down, it was quite obvious to me that this man was a racist in every sense of the word, but it was difficult to actually see this in operation because he kept himself away. And where he did interface with us, it was in the context of him conducting the church services or in relation to his being the kind of overseer of the school where my father was the headmaster. But the fact that my father would not allow him to treat him as a subordinate also shielded us from seeing his racism. But when one heard about the stories of how he treated other people, you realized that you’re really dealing with somebody who was dreadful…. But you know, he just was a very cruel, callous man. I don’t think it was only racism in his case. I think it was a combination of cruelty—he was a cruel personality—then add racism. Add male chauvinism. Then you’ve got quite a powerful mixture. (I.7–8) Ramphele takes up the interviewer’s request to talk about racism in Dutch Afrikaner culture and the South African apartheid system and provides an example of a white minister in her community and his racism towards his Black parishioners. In this way, she acknowledges the problem of racism which was presumably foremost in the mind of the interviewer in view of her own longstanding concern about the legacy of slavery in the US. Ramphele, however, immediately insists that she was relatively privileged and, therefore, not affected by the minister’s racism personally—“my father would not allow him to treat him as a subordinate and also shielded us from seeing his racism” (Ramphele, 1.8). She further distances herself from racism by speaking in the third-person—“…when one heard stories about how he treated other people, you realized that you were really dealing with someone who was dreadful”—and proceeds to attribute it to his particular personality—a “cruel and callous man”. She further expands her assessment that it was not “only racism” in his case, but also “male chauvinism”. It was this combination that made the example so powerful. 227

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We were surprised at Ramphele’s seeming reluctance to situate herself as a Black African in the context of apartheid or to expound on her own experiences with racism. Furthermore, she seemed to distance herself from it by drawing upon her privileged position or the ways that she was extraordinary or different. Even more surprising was that she seemed more comfortable to position herself as a woman, something she did throughout the interview. It was her repeated emphasis on gender that stopped us in our tracks. Had our own desire to show how race and racism should be central to any gender analysis, and our focus on her as a Black Power activist, prevented us from understanding what was most essential to her life? Had we failed to consider other axes of power that were equally important in shaping her biography? Clearly, we needed to go back to the drawing board and take a closer look at what we were missing.

Analysing Blind Spots Not only does intersectionality help identify the inevitable blind spots that every researcher has when carrying out research, it also helps to analyse them. This is one of the most important contributions that intersectionality has made to feminist scholarship. Whether because of our experiences or our social locations, our theoretical perspectives or our political orientations, we are often unable to see what our material has to offer us. Such blind spots can subvert even the best intentions to do research which is sensitive, comprehensive and critical. A good example of such a blind spot can be found in Valerie Smith’s (1998) analysis of narratives of passing—that is, stories of “characters who are ‘legally’ Black yet light-skinned enough to live as white” (Smith 1998: 35). Such stories can be found in racially bifurcated societies like the US and apartheid South Africa where the self-identification as member of a specific race category is a legal obligation. Using intersectionality as a strategy of reading, Smith reconsiders these narratives as stories which—while constructed in racial terms—are often motivated by class considerations, and whose consequences are differentially distributed due to gender (women in [passing narratives] are invariably punished for passing)9. Her analysis highlights omissions in critical race and feminist theory which have focussed on passing primarily as a product of racism. It also resists the equation of passing with the desire to be white. In a similar vein, Uma Narayan (1997) problematises the ways so-called Third World women are represented in First World feminism (see also Mohanty 1988). She was particularly concerned about US feminist discourse on widow burning (sati) in India. In order to criticise the assumptions behind the ‘death by culture’ feminist discourse around sati, she compared it to another example of violence against women—namely, US domestic violence. After pointing out many of the similarities between the two, she shows how domestic violence, which is usually treated as a problem of gendered inequalities, might look if read through the lens of culture. For example, domestic violence could be linked to ‘American culture’ with its Christian doctrines, myths and practices. Christian values about women’s sinful nature, Eve’s role in the Fall, or the sanctity of heterosexual marriage could be cited as ‘typically American’, analogous to the way sati in India is linked to Hinduism (Narayan 1997: 114). The fact that this reading would jar the sensibility of many US feminist readers, who would probably argue that it does not ‘feel plausible’, paves the way both for contextualising the issue of domestic violence in a broader framework, but also for uncovering universalist assumptions underlying First World feminist discourse and normative epistemology.


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Encouraged by these examples of intersectional researchers broadening their initial perceptions and explanations by ‘asking the other question’, we returned to the interview with Ramphele and considered more closely some of those moments when she insisted that gender inequality and sexism were the motors for her development. Recounting her early life in the village where she grew up as the youngest of seven children in a house with mud floors, Ramphele emphasises that her parents were teachers and that they had always encouraged her to get an education. They wanted her to become a teacher, too, but she had other ideas. If there were obstacles, they had less to do with her class background or systemic racism, but rather to her being a woman “growing up in an environment which was very male-dominated, which was very constraining”. As she puts it: The only way I could carve space for myself was to seek the extraordinary, because the ordinary just were not the kind of things that attracted me. I didn’t want to grow up and get married and have six children and die in the rural area. And so I guess it was inevitable that I would seek to do the non-traditional things. (I-2) Against our assumption that race and racism would be the most salient features of Ramphele’s biography, in her interview and her autobiographies, Ramphele highlights again and again that she is different from other women. To our surprise, she continued to mobilise patriarchal gender relations, rather than racism and apartheid politics, to make sense of her life. It became clear that Ramphele’s narrative distinction strategy, which already marked the beginning of the interview, was instrumental in establishing her special position, something she could more easily accomplish via her gender identity. She does not position herself as a Black South African, but rather as a daughter and a sister who needs to fight against the men and male-dominated institutions preventing her from doing what she wants to do. Her life has all the makings of a feminist biography, the story of a girl who rebels against traditional expectations, throws off the yoke of gender oppression, and goes on to become a feminist. In the context in which she lives, this makes her exceptional and her identity even more subversive than would have been possible if she had positioned herself as a Black South African or as Steve Biko’s lover or as an anti-apartheid activist.

Complicating Power Black feminist and anti-racist theorists have long viewed the integration of race and racism as a crucial aspect for feminist theoretical work (Collins, Anthias and Yuval Davis, Brah). We felt therefore it was imperative to not treat racism as a subordinate category in our analysis of Ramphele’s biography. And yet, Ramphele herself seemed determined to present herself, first and foremost, as an independently-minded woman. Her deep desire to overcome the normative constraints of a woman’s role in society became the ground rule for her success as a self-made scholar, an activist, a professional and a single mother. In the interview as well as in both her memoirs (Ramphele 1996, 2014), she emphasises that she does not want to be reduced to any one of her multiple roles and activities. A case in point is her manifest reluctance to extend her relationship as Steve Biko’s lover beyond that period of her life. Instead she focusses on the activities that she accomplished under her own


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steam. She stresses repeatedly that it was not only race, the apartheid state, or the Black Consciousness Movement that were important in assessing who she was. She demonstrated how different aspects and social positionings in her life became salient at specific moments, depending on the context in which she found herself and her interactions with the world around her. In other words: it is impossible to make sense of Ramphele’s life using either “just gender” or “just race” (Smith 1998). Ramphele herself puts this better than we ever could. In the interview, she recalls the ANC and its stance that feminism was divisive: an “American invention that any African woman worth her salt would not be associated with” (I-22). She describes how many of the ANC male leaders used the same kinds of arguments against women members who were arguing for gender equality, as detrimental to the (primary) struggle against racism. In a meeting with the ANC at her university, Ramphele notes that many of the women were uncomfortable with the hostility towards gender, but it wasn’t until Ramphele joined the discussion that it was addressed. And in the end, really, it took those of us who had nothing to lose, in a sense, but who also felt very passionate about the need for the liberation movement to see liberation in a holistic way. You can’t have divided freedom. I asked, “How am I going to define myself as a free person if I become free as a black person and remain trapped as a woman? There is no way in which my body can be divided between the woman in me and the black person in me. And if you’re going to address my freedom, it’s got to be integrated.” It was very hard for men to take that, because it raised fundamental issues about their own personal lives, their own personal relationships, and, of course, men have a very cosy time in a male-dominated patriarchal society. Who’s going to stop having his socks and his underpants washed and picked up from the floor? I mean, it would be nuts to expect them to react in any other way. But in the end, we forced the debate. At least I did. I was supported by a number of women who were labelled as the rampant feminists and so on, but it didn’t really bother me, because I would constantly bring them back to the fact that exactly the arguments they’re using about us being agitators, are what the apartheid system was using in terms of all of us in dealing with the race issue, that it’s a contradiction for them to purport to be freedom fighters when they have this blind side to them. (I.22) Ramphele revolts against a situation in which the ANC’s struggle against racism is prioritised over feminism. In this clear example of intersectional thinking, she brings gender and race together, making it clear that freedom depends upon both struggles being integrated. From this quote we can also draw a lesson about our preoccupation with her dealing with the category of race/racism. She tells her story as a person for whom racism is one of the basic conditions of her life; as a given it does not need to be explained more precisely. As the saying goes, fish don’t talk about the water. It’s what they swim in every day.

Conclusion In this chapter, we have demonstrated how Mari Matsuda’s deceptively simple method of ’asking the other question’ enabled us to make sense of a biographical interview. We 230

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employed it to situate ourselves and to discover the ways our blind spots impeded our analysis of the interview. Ultimately, we employed it to uncover how the interviewee herself provided a complex construction of her life, using an intersectional understanding of gender, race and other social difference to create a narrative that made sense for her. We will now draw some more general conclusions, explaining why we think this is a productive way to do intersectional analysis. First, an intersectional analysis should begin with reflecting the distinctive situatedness and the associated partiality/bias of the researcher. This entails consciously reflecting on both the visible and—more difficult—invisible differences between the researcher and her informant/respondent/interview partner, and the role they play in the interview. By employing this method on ourselves (and the interviewer), we discovered that our own position as white, feminist, European/US researchers with an anti-racist agenda made us expect this interview partner to present herself first and foremost as a Black activist. We unthinkingly incorporated her story into our agenda and were puzzled when she refused to comply. As we have shown in the above analysis, our own preoccupations as well as the interests of the interviewer affected not only what questions were asked, but how we perceived the answers. They determine what she pushes to the fore and what she leaves behind or even keeps a secret. Moreover, the interviewee will have her own perceptions of the interviewer, how she wants to be seen in the interview, and what is at stake for her when she tells her story in a particular way at that particular moment in time. For this reason, situating one’s self as researcher/interviewer is the necessary first step towards understanding how our own social location and previous assumptions can impede the analysis, preventing us from seeing what is right there in front of us. By ‘asking the other question’, we were able to become more reflexive about how our racialised and political positions shaped the way the interview was conducted and analysed. Second, we observed that the use of intersectional language and conceptualisation is not restricted to the researchers, but also used by the narrator and biographer herself. Here, we needed to ask ourselves why Ramphele evoked a certain positioning while another one, which seemed more obvious from the interviewer’s perspective, was omitted. We learnt that the category mentioned first is not necessarily the most important; instead, it may be the one that is under more or specific pressure. While the interviewer asked Mamphela Ramphele “the harder question”, to talk about racism, Ramphele emphasised the constraints she experienced of growing up as a woman in a male-dominated society. Did this mean racism was of no importance in Ramphele’s life? Hardly. However, the question is not which form of power is generally most salient in her life or in the context in which she lives, but rather why she invests in a certain position at different moments in the interview. By questioning our blind spot around the importance of gender in Ramphele’s story, we were able to understand why gender—more than race—allowed her to construct herself as special, be it in the context of apartheid in South Africa, or in the US at the World Bank, or as the first female presidential candidate in post-apartheid South Africa. Presenting herself as a Black South African would not have enabled her to establish her exceptionality in the same way. This investment in gender could obviously be very different for other narrators. In biographies of trans- or intergender people, for example, the category of gender as normalised and naturalised binary (male-female) has often been hurtful, causing biographical fractures and even traumas. Belonging and citizenship must also be managed in the life stories of narrators whose parents or grandparents have migrated or had to flee their country. In the context of cultural or ethnic exclusion and racialisation, the thematisation of non-belonging/ 231

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citizenship can prove quite painful and bring other categories to the fore. In biographical narratives, life experiences are often juggled as potential versions of what happened and why. Depending upon the ‘work’ these versions can do for the narrator, the construction of his or her life narrative will change. It is the task of the intersectional researcher to be wary of her blind spots and open to exploring the, at first glance, puzzling logic underlying how categories of difference and power are mobilised as explanation for a person’s biographical identity and actions as well as the opportunities and constraints they experience in the course of their lives. Third, every interview is situated in an intersectional power structure. The analysis of multiple constellations of (changing and transforming) power relations remains a central dimension of an intersectional analysis of any biographical narrative. Mamphela Ramphele’s life story is a perfect example of how complicated these configurations of power can be. Her story is that of a fighter who resists being marginalised as a victim. She describes herself as a woman who is on a quest to organise her own life as a competent, independent actor. Her personal search simultaneously contributed to a collective history of Black resistance in South Africa. Her narrative strategy emphasises how individuals resist discrimination and marginalisation by negotiating multiple and convergent positionings through their everyday practices as they narrate their life stories. By emphasising her creative and sometimes surprising attempts to subvert the oppressive contingencies of her situation, Ramphele illustrated that differences are not only sources of oppression: they are resources that individuals can use to avoid a loss of control over the circumstances in which they find themselves. The intersectional analysis of gender and its intersections in a biography requires analysis of both, experiences of oppression as well as the practices to subvert them. Here, again, asking the other question can be a perfect helpmeet. It allows us to pay attention to how expressions of power relations are brought up in an interview or written text and how they are acknowledged or denied. When do narrators adopt counter-strategies which allow them to resist power—and if so, in which ways? Or, to complicate matters further, do they have non-verbal ways of expressing resistance? The aim of any intersectional analysis of power should be to understand how individuals are vulnerable, but not equally or similarly vulnerable in every situation, and how they develop strategies—often with considerable resourcefulness—to cushion or absorb these vulnerabilities.

Notes 1 We would like to thank Lena Inowlocki and Willem de Haan for their insightful comments, which helped us to improve this article. 2 Lykke has raised the provocative question that this should not always be the case (Lykke 2011). 3 See Bredström’s chapter in this volume. 4 See Niels Spiering’s chapter in this volume on the ways to use quantitative methods for intersectional analysis. 5 For migration see, for example, Gültekin, Inowlocki, Lutz 2003; Lutz 2018; for citizenship and belonging see Yuval-Davis 2011; for sexual violence, see Zarkov, 2007; for disability see Meekosha 2006; for chronic illness see Etherington, 2014. 6 See Davis (2014) for strategies for applying intersectionality to feminist academic writing. 7 The interested reader is referred to Nurse and O’Neill 2018 and Apitzsch and Inowlocki 2000; Chamberlayne, Bornat and Wengraf 2000; Fischer-Rosenthal 2000 for more information on this kind of research. 8 These assumptions are based not only on what we knew about the interviewer, but also on what we know to be true of most interviews. While we did not conduct this interview ourselves, we are


Intersectionality as Critical Method: Asking the Other Question pretty sure we would have also have tried to move the conversation in the direction of our own agenda. 9 Smith (1998) analyses several well-known films in which light-skinned women reject their subordinate status by trying to pass as white, only to run up against insurmountable obstacles and end in despair (pp. 35–60).

References Amelina, Anna and Helma Lutz (2019) Gender and Migration: Transnational and Intersectional Prospects. London: Routledge. Anthias, Floya and Nira Yuval Davis (1992) Racialised Boundaries. Race, Nation, Gender, Colour and Class and the Anti-Racist Struggle. London and New York: Routledge. Apitzsch, Ursula and Lena Inowlocki (2000) “Biographical Analysis: A “German” School?” In: Chamberlayne, P., J. Bornat and T. Wengraf (eds.) The Biographical Turn in Social Science: Comparative Issues and Examples. London: Routledge, pp. 53–70. Bereswill, Mechthild and Anke Neuber (2011) “Marginalised Masculinity, Precarisation and the Gender Order”. In: Lutz, H., M.T.H Vivar and L. Supik (eds.) Framing Intersectionality. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 69–87. Brah, Avtar (1996) Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities. London: Routledge. Butler, Judith (1989). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Chamberlayne, Prue, Joanna Bornat and Tom Wengraf (eds.) (2000) The Turn to Biographical Methods in Social Science: Comparative Issues and Examples. London: Routledge. Collins, Patricia Hill (1990) Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman. Davis, Kathy (2009) “Avoiding the ‘R-Word’: racism in feminist collectives”. In: Ryan-Flood, R. and R. Gill (eds.) Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections. London: Routledge, pp. 147–160. Davis, Kathy (2014) “Intersectionality as Critical Methodology”. In: Lykke, N. (ed.) Writing Academic Texts Differently. Intersectional Feminist Methodologies and the Playful Art of Writing. New York: Routledge, pp. 17–29. Dhawan, Nikita (2017) “Difference that makes no Difference. The Non-Performativity of Intersectionality and Diversity” In: Wagadu. A Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies, 16. Etherington, Nicole (2014) “Race, Gender, and the Resources That Matter: An Investigation of Intersectionality and Health”. In: Women & Health, 55(7), pp. 754–777. Fischer-Rosenthal, Wolfram (2000) “Address Lost: How to Fix Lives. Biographical Structuring in the European Modern Age”. In: Breckner, R., D. Kalekin-Fishman, I. Miethe (eds.) Biographies and the Division of Europe. Opladen: Leske + Budrich, pp. 55–76. Gültekin, Nevâl, Lena Inowlocki and Helma Lutz (2003) “Quest and Query. Interpreting a biographical interview with a Turkish Woman laborer”. In: Forum Qualitative Social Research, 4(3). Available at: Haraway, Donna J. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Association Books. Knapp, Gudrun-Axeli (2005) “Race, Class, Gender: Reclaiming Baggage in Fast Travelling Theories”. In: European Journal of Women´s Studies, 12(3), pp. 249–265. Leiprecht, Rudolf and Helma Lutz (2009) “Rassismus – Sexismus – Intersektionalität (zus. mit Rudolf Leiprecht)”. In: Claus Melter & Paul Mecheril (Hrg.): Rassismuskritik, Bd. 1: Rassismustheorie und -forschung, Schwalbach/Ts.: Wochenschau Verlag 2009, pp. 179–198. Lutz, Helma (2016) “Intersectionality’s Amazing Journey: Toleration, Adaptation and Appropriation”. In: Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, (3), pp. 421–437. Lutz, Helma (2018) Die Hinterbühne der Care-Arbeit: transnationale Perspektiven auf CareMigration im geteilten Europa. Weinheim; Basel: Beltz Juventa. Lutz, Helma and Kathy Davis (2009) “Geschlechterforschung und Biographieforschung: Intersektionalität als biographische Ressource am Beispiel einer außergewöhnlichen Frau”. In: Völter, B., B. Dausien, H. Lutz, G. Rosenthal (eds.) Biographieforschung im Diskurs, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2. Auflage, pp. 228–247.


Kathy Davis and Helma Lutz Lutz, Helma and Norbert Wenning (2001). “Differenzen über Differenz – Einführung in die Debatten”. In: Lutz, H. and N. Wenning (eds.) Unterschiedlich verschieden. Differenz in der Erziehungswissenschaft. Opladen: Leske + Budrich, pp.11–24. pdf/Unterschiedlich_verschieden_online_D_A.pdf Lykke, Nina (2011) “Intersectional Analysis: Black Box or Useful Critical Feminist Thinking Technology?” In: Lutz, H., M.T.H Vivar and L. Supik (eds.) Framing Intersectionality, Farnham: Routledge, pp. 207–220. Matsuda, Mari J. (1991) “Beside My Sister, Facing the Enemy: Legal Theory out of Coalition”. In: Stanford Law Review, 43(6), pp. 1183–1192. McCall, Leslie (2005) “The Complexity of Intersectionality”. In: Sign, 30(3), pp. 1771–1800. Meekosha, Helen (2006) “What the Hell Are You? An Intercategorial Analysis of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Disability in the Australian Body Politic”. In: Scandinavian Journal of Disability ­Research, 8(2–3), pp. 161–176. Mohanty, Chandra Talpade (1988) “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses”. In: Feminist Review, 30, pp. 61–88. Narayan, Uma (1997) Dislocating Cultures. Identities, Traditions, and Third World Feminism. New York: Routledge. Nurse, Lyudmila and Maggie O’Neill (2018) “Biographical Research in the UK: Profiles and Perspectives”. In: Lutz, H., M. Schiebel and E. Tuider (eds.) Handbuch Biographieforschung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp.713–725. Ramphele, Mamphela (1996) Across Boundaries. The Journey of a South African Woman Leader. New York: Feminist Press Ramphele, Mamphela (2014) My Life. A Passion for Freedom. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Smith, Valerie (1998) Not Just Race, Not Just Gender. New York: Routledge. Yuval-Davis, Nira (2011) The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations. Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Zarkov, Dubravka (2007) The Body of War: Media, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Break-up of Yugoslavia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


18 QUANTITATIVE INTERSECTIONAL RESEARCH Approaches, Practices, and Needs Niels Spierings

When Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, she used three court cases on labour market discrimination to illustrate her argument for an intersectional perspective; a lens through which it is possible to see whether Black women were treated as Black people, as women, or as Black women (Crenshaw, 1989). In that seminal article the power of quantitative information was prominent: it was the core evidence for racial and/or gender discrimination in those court cases. Later, McCall’s (2005) seminal classification of intersectional approaches reserved a seat for quantitative research as part of intercategorical intersectional studies. Nevertheless, quantitative intersectional research is in scarce supply. That scarcity is partly due to conceptual confusion and practical barriers. This chapter therefore sets out to provide a stepping stone for quantitative intersectional research by distinguishing three common approaches to what this research entails. I will discuss the actual applications of, and barriers to, quantitative intersectional research, and suggest what we as individual scholars and as a scholarly community can do to conduct, facilitate, and publish it.

Background Crenshaw’s court cases do not present otherworldly examples of the role statistical information can play in societal and political debates: policymakers, the judiciary, and the public at large are receptive to numeric-based argumentation. Whether this is because it appears less subjective, because it aligns with rationality-based policy and science discourses, or simply because some people are better with numbers while others are better with words, I cannot say; however, as has been argued by others before, the rhetorical power of systematic quantitative analyses has been a major argument in favour of statistics as a tool in the feminist academic toolkit (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2007; Reinharz, 1992; Spierings, 2012). Of course, the choice of a quantitative or qualitative method is not (singularly) based on what impact a scholar or policy researcher is seeking. Primarily, the epistemological position of a scholar and the research questions at hand should be aligned with the chosen method. Debates on the fit between quantitative methods and feminist studies, with gender studies, and most recently with intersectionality studies, often revolve around this 235

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alignment. While those debates are not the core focus of this chapter, some brief context is needed. As I discuss elsewhere in more detail (Spierings, 2012), to understand the methods debates, we should consider the history of women’s, gender and intersectionality studies. These fields originate from critique on existing androcentric academic research—critique that took off in the 1970s and 1980s when many disciplines were dominated by quantitative approaches. Criticism of mainstream research often displayed both statistical simplism and androcentrism: important differences between the position of men and women were not given attention; results concerning one half of the population (men) were considered to hold true for the other half (women), for example, in the medical sciences; or average differences between men and women were essentialised and naturalised, ignoring the role of the social environment in (re)constituting such differences (see Bernard, 1977; Harding, 1986; Jayaratne, 1983; Millman and Kanter, 1975; Oakley and Oakley, 1979).1 Correlation does not equal causation, but the overlap between an androcentric gaze and quantitative misconduct is the backdrop against which the development of feminist methods took place. Not surprisingly, the focus turned to the development of qualitative methods. As a result, the trenches—with androcentrism and quantitative methods on one side and feminist and qualitative methods on the other—deepened, and inadvertently reified. With important parts of its roots in gender studies, intersectionality is generally positioned on the side of qualitative, feminist methods.2 In short, it is no surprise that a quantitative approach is not the first go-to for those who prefer to take an intersectional perspective. Despite the above, and based on the recent publications on the issue, the numerous discussions I have had with colleagues interested in work on intersectionality and quantitative methods, the many invitations for talks I have had the pleasure to receive, and the enthusiasm surrounding a summer course I teach, I would argue that many academics and policymakers are interested in combining quantitative methods and intersectionality However, we still lack clear practical guidelines; many misunderstandings around the combination of quantitative methods and intersectionality persist, not the least because some scholars take different approaches using the same words or use different words for roughly the same approaches. In this chapter, I hope to shed some light on quantitative intersectional research and foster the accumulation of our knowledge on doing quantitative intersectional analyses, particularly regarding the concrete application and publication of such research. This chapter is primarily aimed at academics, students and professionals who might consider conducting or assessing quantitative intersectional research. While I am not advocating a quantitative approach for every intersectionality scholar, I am assuming an open mind among the readers of this chapter regarding both quantitative research and intersectionality. Specifically, I set out to provide insight into the different ways in which an intersectional perspective can translate to quantitative research, and to discuss practical obstacles as well as potential solutions. To this end, I will engage with the following questions: a what approaches can be distinguished among those who try to further quantitative intersectional analyses? b what are the actual practices of applying an intersectional perspective in existing empirical research? In other words, how much quantitative intersectional research is being published and what practical barriers might explain the scarce output?


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c what infrastructure is needed in order to further facilitate quantitative intersectional research? First, however, it is prudent to briefly elaborate on what is meant by the two conceptual ingredients of this chapter: quantitative and intersectionality.

The Concepts: Quantitative and Intersectionality In a nutshell, quantitative methods use information that has been translated to numbers (is quantified), in order to summarise this information and—in most cases—to assess whether characteristics systematically relate to each other (e.g., whether groups’ means differ from each other). Conclusions can then be drawn about a larger population of cases (e.g., people, countries, et cetera) by studying only a sample of these cases (such form of generalisation is referred to when using the term inferential statistics: drawing inferences beyond the immediate studied objects). Quantitative methods are a natural ally to studying social stratification and systematic inequalities (Dubrow, 2013), whereby the researcher often decides which inequalities and groups are studied and how people are categorised into groups. In McCall’s terms: quantitative techniques make intercategorical comparisons (McCall, 2005). Crucial in understanding this practice is that: a there is no inherent limit to how fine-grained the categorisation is. One can compare men and women; groups at complex intersections, such as Black heterosexual men, Black lesbian women, white heterosexual women, et cetera; and far more fine-grained classifications;3 b the meaning of differences between the categories remains a matter of interpretation. For instance, when it is found that Muslim citizens are less politically liberal than Christian citizens in European countries, this can signal a difference grounded in religious dogma as well as religious status (Glas, 2020; Spierings, 2019): the classifications by religious denomination and by the majority/minority status of a religion fully overlap for Muslim citizens in most European countries: all of them adhere to Islam and are part of a minority religion. Whether a difference in the average political liberalness of Muslim and Christian citizens relates to the content of the religion or the status of the religion cannot be determined without further information. At this point, it remains a matter of theory and interpretation; and c classifying people into certain categories does not imply an ontological decision stressing existential difference. First, quantitative analyses only indicate a difference in the average. This is often not explicit in how results are formulated; that might be misunderstood as essentialising. Second, for many quantitative researchers, categorising people into groups is a way to study the power relations between groups, the social meaning attached to these categories, and the social constructions involved (Hancock, 2007; McCall, 2005; Rouhani, 2014). None of these authors would claim that these groups are, have been, and will always be the same (also see McCall, 2005). This chapter thus considers quantitative methods to be a tool to systematically make comparisons with no inherent limit on the number of categories, whereby the categories reflect


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temporarily frozen processes in society and statistical differences that only acquire meaning through interpretation. As stated at the opening of the chapter, Crenshaw presented intersectionality as a lens through which she assesses whether Black women were treated as either Black people, or as women, or as Black women. This position aligns with much of the core literature on intersectionality, although it is not often spelled out explicitly, certainly not in the literature on intersectionality and quantitative methods. Citing several of the core authors on quantitative intersectional research: an intersectional perspective “allows for the generation of new and arguably more accurate information” (Hankivsky, 2014:24), it “considers the complex relationship” (Rouhani, 2014:4, emphasis added), and it can identify relevant unanswered questions (Hancock, 2013:261). As such, using an intersectional lens allows us to uncover what ‘might be’. In other words, in contrast to Hankivsky (2014: 2) who writes: “inequities are never the result of single distinct factors”, I would argue that in terms of trying to understand how these inequities are systematically formed, the more precise formulation is that inequities should never be a priori regarded as the result of single distinct factors. Acknowledging this implies the need for an intersectional lens to uncover complex inequities, while also accepting that using an intersectional lens might lead to the conclusion that some systematic inequities are not intersectional with respect to specific axis in a specific context. Intersectionality as a perspective contrasts to intersectionality as an a priori fact as discussed above, but also to intersectionality as a theory. A perspective leads to new questions and expectations, but is not sufficient to formulate specific expectations. For that, theories on the issue at hand are needed. Here I depart from claims like those of Dubrow (2013) and Hancock (2013) by arguing that intersectionality cannot be tested and is not falsifiable in itself. Falsifying a hypothesis that was derived from applying an intersectional perspective to a more specific theory cannot lead to the rejection of intersectionality. The perspective’s function is to discover whether inequalities are additive or multiplicative, but does not require them to be the latter per se. In quantitative research, ‘additive’ refers to separate net effects of different social categories (e.g., ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age), whereas ‘multiplicative’ refers to the interaction of these categories. They interact, for instance, if the gender wage gap is different among heterosexual and homosexual people. If they are additive, there is a gender wage gap and a sexuality wage gap, but the gender wage gap is equal among heterosexual and homosexual people. ‘Additive’ and ‘multiplicative’ thus refer to outcomes. However to detect multiplicative inequality, one must use models that allows for these (see for instance Dubrow 2008:97; Scott & Siltanen, 2012). An intersectional perspective directs one to test whether multiplicative differences exist (Rouhani, 2014; Spierings, 2012), and this can lead to the conclusion that the inequalities on the issue at hand are in fact additive. To summarise, this chapter treats intersectionality as a perspective that draws attention to the possibility that social categorisations might have multiplicative consequences for inequalities and the causes thereof, which can be understood by specific theories. Making the meaning of terms like ‘category’, ‘additive’ and ‘perspective’ explicit is crucial to avoid Babylonian confusion regarding intersectional and quantitative research. Moreover, this understanding of the terms and concepts provides the backdrop against which I will engage the first core question of this chapter: what approaches can be distinguished among those who try to further quantitative intersectional analyses?


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Approaches Based on the above, bringing together quantitative methods and intersectionality might seem rather straightforward: one simply tests for (causes of) multiplicative inequalities, for example, one adds interaction terms to your regression model (see Dubrow, 2008; Rouhani, 2014; Scott & Siltanen, 2017; Spierings, 2012). However, it is more complex, as shown when properly analysing the arguments for why and how quantitative research and intersectionality can go together (e.g., Hancock, 2007; McCall, 2005; Rouhani, 2014; Scott & Siltanen, 2017). This chapter identifies three main research approaches: (1) technically intersectional, (2) theoretically intersectional, and (3) radically alternative intersectional.

Approach 1: Technically Intersectional The first approach basically reduces intersectionality to adding multiplicative elements, such as interaction effects, to statistical models, and relabels this as intersectionality. This labelling can be done by the author who might mention intersectionality as an inspiration or buzzword. But it does not have to be labelled by the author. For instance, Jones, Misra and McCurley (2013) classify all studies that include an interaction between social statuses as intersectional, regardless of whether the study mentions or theorises intersectionality. To be considered ‘technically intersectional’, the study must focus on social categories, and at least one intersection of at least two categorisations must be tested for multiplicative effects. There are no criteria regarding the theory itself. Still, not just any study including an interaction term is considered intersectional; the intersection must focus on social positions or categories (e.g., Hankivsky, 2014). Few scholars engaging in debates on intersectionality take the position that being ‘technically intersectional’ is sufficient for a study to be considered intersectional. For instance, while Dubrow (2008) and Spierings (2012) could have been read as arguing in this way, in fact, they actually assume intersectional theorising to precede the statistical exercise, even though the latter is their focus. At the same time, scholars unfamiliar with the literature on intersectionality might quite easily equate an interaction term with intersectionality, ignoring intersectionality’s roots in the study of the complex structural and social causes of inequality, exclusion, marginalisation and power differentials.

Approach 2: Theoretically Intersectional Logically following from the above, the second approach also demands that at least one multiplicative inequality between at least two social categorisations is studied, yet it adds the need for intersectional theorising. Or as Rouhani (2014) puts it: ‘intersectionalityinformed quantitative research’. From this perspective, a study is considered intersectional to the extent that researchers have thought through how the specific categories interrelate and how they might lead to multiplicative inequalities, ideally considering the social or contextual setting (Dubrow, 2008; Hankivsky, 2014; Spierings, 2016). In other words, the theorisation in such a study needs to be reflected upon from an intersectional perspective, which leads to at least some consideration of how inequalities between social categories and the causes thereof might be more complex than simple additivity would suggest.


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This ‘theoretical intersectional’ approach raised the bar compared to the ‘technical intersectional’ approach, but the degree to which the study takes intersectionality theorising as its starting point can vary. To explain this in more detail, I will sketch two poles of a spectrum that represent the range of studies that can be considered part of this theoretically intersectional approach. The first is the ‘explorative pole’; the second the ‘testing pole’. The explorative pole is most clearly argued for by Scott and Siltanen (2017:375): “there should be no a priori assumptions about what factors of inequality are operating in any specific situation, and with what relation to each other”. This position implies that a study not just formulate expectations on a few intersections of interest, but explore as many intersections as possible to establish for which the differences are additive or multiplicative (and under what contextual conditions). Here intersectionality is taken as starting point, but the researcher still decides which social categories might be relevant, thereby leading in all probability to the inclusion of social categories like gender, ethnicity and sexuality (and not categories based on hair colour or height). To make a selection of relevant categories, some form of theory must have been applied, implicitly or explicitly. Given the wide net cast in this pole, it most likely relies on rather general theories of social structures and stratification and less on theories from which specific expectations for a certain outcome are derived. This pole therefore fits the researcher who likes to probe: to work from a general idea, like the notion that our society is organised along gendered and racial structures, and apply that to data to discover where the multiplicative inequalities manifest themselves (see Rouhani, 2014:7). This type of study is thus more explorative in nature: it acknowledges that social categories might intersect and uses general theory to determine which categories might be relevant, and sets out to study which of these categories lead to multiplicative inequalities and which do not. The testing pole is exemplified by the work of Dubrow (2008, 2013) and might not take intersectionality as a starting point per se. In their most typical form, such studies start from an existing (discipline-based) debate, question, or field and then apply intersectionality to theorise the multiple inequalities in more depth. In other words, they often have specific outcomes, specific theories, and specific categories for which they formulate new theoretical arguments. These studies tend to kick off by modelling the singular and independent roles of the social categories and then adding the test for the multiplicative difference between social categories. This step-by-step procedure has been advised by several authors (Rouhani, 2014; Spierings, 2012), but it should not be mistaken for reducing intersectionality to being a mere ‘addon’. 3 There is a crucial difference between this type of theoretically intersectional quantitative research and ‘add gender and stir’: at the testing pole, the expectation is still required to be theorised in terms of how categories’ meaning or implication vary based on other social positions in a certain context (context-dependency is discussed more elaborately in Box 1). If such theorising is missing, a study cannot be considered theoretically intersectional. This type of study thus formulates specific falsifiable hypotheses that are theoretically argued for and focusses on specific social categorisations of interest to the author. Often the intersectional expectations are a follow-up on expectations about independently tested inequalities between social categories.


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Box 18.1


The role of context-dependency in quantitative intersectional research crosscuts the different approaches. It is at the heart of intersectional theorising (and thus highly relevant to both approaches 2 and 3. Taking an intersectional perspective assumes that one acknowledges that the context (time and place, structure and culture, formal and informal, et cetera) at least partly shapes the implication of social categories. Some consider it crucial that this be made explicit in intersectional quantitative analyses (Scott & Siltanen, 2017), others focus on the practical question of how to do so (Spierings, 2012, 2016), and yet others stress this point theoretically and mainly warn for overstressing generalisability of results and advise careful interpretation (Hankivsky, 2014; Rouhani, 2014). However, all seem to agree that a proper (theorised) intersectional study is aware of the fact that context constitutes how certain social categorisations matter, whereby results should not be generalised too easily beyond the population which is sampled from. In other words, taking an intersectional perspective highlights this more general and important methodological guideline—one which is regularly overlooked in quantitative work (Spierings, 2016), and indeed in qualitative work as well.

Approach 3: Radically Alternative Intersectional The third approach also argues in favour of combining intersectionality and quantitative methods, but maintains that new tools better fit (certain forms of) intersectionality. For example, it simply decides to use quantitative techniques other than regression analysis— the mainstream and dominant quantitative technique in the social sciences. The most prominent work of this type is Hancock’s (2007, 2013), which argues for the use of fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). Without going into the details of this technique (see, e.g., Rihoux & Ragin, 2008), Hancock (2013:295) rightly points out that fsQCA “opens up methodological choices beyond standard” practices. However, this opening up is not inherent to the technique; the new technique opens the door to thinking about different ways of specifying groups and combining variables. Technically speaking, this can be done in a regression analysis context too, although it would go against standard practice. The latter is of course often treated as the gold standard, and dogmatic referral to the accompanying arbitrary customs is deeply ingrained in teaching regression analyses and consequently in academic gatekeeping, such as review processes. That most, if not all, of the innovations argued for by Hancock can be accommodated in a regression model is illustrated by Dubrow (2008), who also includes less standard operationalisations of ethnicity. This is not to say that fsQCA, or QCA in general, might not have advantages over regression analysis, but those would relate to notions of causality and sample size more generally and not to intersectionality per se. A second technique that deserves attention is Latent Class Analysis (LCA). This technique rarely mentions the debate on quantitative methods and intersectionality. It is simply used in combination with intersectionality. Particularly interesting is that LCA allows for a more inductive approach to assessing how people are clustered around certain characteristics. Different social categorisations and outcomes (wages, employment, health) can be


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put into the model, after which the statistical model calculates how people are empirically clustered in terms of these characteristics. Without wanting to go into the technical details here, most crucial to note is that if social categories interrelate in complex ways relevant for the outcomes at hand, LCA will bring this to the surface. Consequently, if one includes multiple social categorisations in LCA models, it becomes by approximation necessary to apply an intersectional perspective in order to substantively interpret the results of the LCA. Clearly, there is overlap between the three existing approaches on doing quantitative intersectional research discussed above. They do not always exclude each other, and this distinction is not intended to cover all methodological or theoretical debates about intersectionality. The goal here was to illustrate several different approaches in order to get a better grasp on how to integrate quantitative methods and an intersectional perspective.

Practices It is one thing to discuss how quantitative intersectional research can be conducted; it is another to actually conduct it. In this section, I briefly outline how much and what kind of intersectional quantitative work is out there. I also discuss the most prominent practicalities and challenges based on my own observations and the existing literature.

Actual Research A starting premiss of this chapter was that quantitative intersectional research is relatively scarce; however, how much we encounter depends on what we label as ‘ intersectional’. While a close reading of thousands of potentially quantitative intersectional studies is beyond the scope of this chapter, I will provide some insight into existing quantitative intersectional research. This brief sketch is based on an earlier review by Jones, Misra and McCurley (2013) and a new Google Scholar search, which considers the three approaches presented above. In my classification, Jones, Misra and McCurley (2013) follow a ‘technically intersectional’ perspective. In doing so, they counted 60 quantitative intersectional studies among the 700 articles published in ‘20 top sociology journals’ in 2009. Journals with a specific focus on social positions (e.g., Gender & Society and Ethnic and Racial Studies) published many intersectional studies (although figures per journal were not reported for quantitative studies specifically). Here, it is important to note that the technically intersectional perspective casts the widest net and that sociology is a discipline in which quantitative research is very common. These figures thus present an upper boundary. To obtain a more recent and to some extent more detailed picture, I reverted to Google Scholar, searching on different combinations of key words (more below).4 Evidently, Google Scholar hits do not present a full picture, as the search engine is likely to underreport books and work published in languages other than English. At the same time, it has a broader scope than search engines like Web of Science, for instance, covering theses and paper repositories too. The figures present an indication of how much intersectional quantitative research may exist in English. To start, for [quantitative AND intersectionality] Google Scholar returned 29,800 hits and for [regression AND intersectionality] 12,200. This means that in almost 30,000 sources, both the words ‘quantitative’ and ‘intersectionality’ occur. In some cases this will not relate to quantitative methods, and in more still this will not involve combining those 242

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with intersectionality. Notwithstanding, it seems safe to say that in the lion’s share of the English-language academic literature of the last decades, no more than 12,000 papers involve an intersectional approach using regression analysis. As a reference: in 2014 Google Scholar was estimated to cover about 160 million sources.5 A search for [regression.analysis] returns over 4 million hits and for [intersectionality] over 150,000 hits.6 Next, I listed the first 1,000 hits for [regression AND intersectionality], selected the journal articles, and ranked these by the amount of times they appeared in this list. The 25 journals that are included at least three times are listed in Appendix A. This overview indicates that quantitative intersectional research is most prevalent in gender studies and (social) health sciences, followed by sociology and political science. Last, I zoomed in on the ‘radical’ techniques. For [latent.class.analysis AND intersectionality] Google Scholar only returned 785 hits and for [QCA AND intersectionality] it returned just 69 hits. The first hits for LCA articles are found in health sciences, education and youth studies, and (gender) sociology. Among the small pool of QCA mentioning studies, law, education, and policy studies are most prominent. In relation to the issue of context-dependency (see Box 1), I searched for [regression AND intersectionality AND multilevel], which returned 3,210 hits. However, it should be noted that this includes many technical discussions and health-related within-person studies, which is a different application of multi-level analysis than discussed above. The first pages of hits show only a few studies that include neighbourhoods or countries as higher-level contexts, which is what Scott and Siltanen (2012, 2017) and Spierings (2012, 2016) refer to. The brief scan above leads to several interesting observations. There is a rather large corpus of studies that can be considered as quantitative intersectional studies one way or another, which is closely linked to gender studies as a field. However, this corpus is still just a fraction of all scientific output, and at most 20% of all work mentioning intersectionality— in fact 10% is the more likely figure.7 In terms of disciplines, the health and social sciences dominate the field of quantitative intersectionality. In terms of specific methods, regressionbased intersectional studies far outnumber other quantitative techniques, and despite the theoretical stress on context-dependency, very few multilevel studies with cross-level interactions are published. Moreover, the applied technique seems to correlate with the discipline in which it is being published. These observations also suggest that statistical gender studies did indeed pave the way for quantitative (mostly regression-based) intersectional studies. As discussed in the Background section, before intersectionality was introduced as concept, there was already a robust tradition of quantitative work in women’s, feminist and gender studies—one of the main fields from which intersectionality studies originated (Smiet, 2017). Consequently, this tradition was the basis of much of the discussion of quantitative methods and intersectionality. Nowadays, quantitative intersectional studies contribute to a wide range of social and health sciences, but they are certainly not at the core of any discipline.

Challenges There are many reasons why quantitative intersectional studies have not deeply penetrated various disciplines; my focus here is on the practical challenges for doing such research. Below, I list the most prominent issues, based on those raised in the existing literature (see Hancock, 2013; Dubrow, 2006, 2008; Rouhani, 2014; Spierings, 2012), my own experiences, and what I have heard from audiences during guest lectures. The topics are 243

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diverse and we all have different experiences, but I expect that most scholars working on this will recognise at least some of these challenges. In order not to scare off too many potential quantitative intersectionalists, I also provide initial suggestions to overcome these challenges: First of all, one might simply never have been taught how to perform intersectional quantitative analysis. Luckily, it is rather easy to learn if one first learns to grasp regression analysis. Rouhani (2014) and Spierings (2012) provide very practical readings, and—as shown above—there are examples to be found in many disciplines. Next and arguably, the most challenging issue of all, is that existing data are unlikely to include all potentially relevant categories (see Rouhani, 2014). Certainly, richer data is needed; however, many intersections that can be studied with existing data have not yet been studied. Besides endeavouring to collect better data, it is thus possible to focus on which innovations are possible with existing data, instead of those which are not. For instance, Crenshaw (2013) and Dubrow (2008) show how innovative use of existing data is possible in establishing categories. Another frequent issue is that existing data include too few respondents in certain categories (see Rouhani, 2014; Spierings, 2012). This often holds for minority groups unless a general survey has oversampled the group (Rouhani, 2014). Still, pooling existing data (Dubrow, 2013; Spierings, 2019), while reflecting on contextual differences (Rouhani, 2014; Spierings, 2016), can help. In some cases, register data might also offer opportunities. More technically, solutions can be found in collapsing groups that show similar coefficients to increase statistical power, and to consider statistical significance for what it is: an indication of certainty rather than a ‘do-or-die’ threshold. In other words, for those familiar with statistics, not meeting the p