The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy through Race, Class, and Gender

The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy through Race, Class, and Gender

The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy through Race, Class, and Gender

The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy through Race, Class, and Gender

Synopsis

Intersectionality, or the consideration of race, class, and gender, is one of the prominent contemporary theoretical contributions made by scholars in the field of women's studies that now broadly extends across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Taking stock of this transformative paradigm, The Intersectional Approach guides new and established researchers to engage in a critical reflection about the broad adoption of intersectionality that constitutes what the editors call a new "social literacy" for scholars.

In eighteen essays, contributors examine various topics of interest to students and researchers from a feminist perspective as well as through their respective disciplines, looking specifically at gender inequalities related to globalization, health, motherhood, sexuality, body image, and aging. Together, these essays provide a critical overview of the paradigm, highlight new theoretical and methodological advances, and make a strong case for the continued use of the intersectional approach both within the borders of women's and gender studies and beyond.

Contributors:
Lidia Anchisi, Gettysburg College
Naomi Andre, University of Michigan
Jean Ait Belkhir, Southern University at New Orleans
Michele Tracy Berger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kia Lilly Caldwell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth R. Cole, University of Michigan
Kimberle Crenshaw, University of California, Los Angeles
Bonnie Thornton Dill, University of Maryland
Michelle Fine, Graduate Center, City University of New York
Jennifer Fish, Old Dominion University
Mako Fitts, Seattle University
Kathleen Guidroz, Mount St. Mary's University
Ivette Guzman-Zavala, Lebanon Valley College
Kaaren Haldeman, Durham, North Carolina
Catherine E. Harnois, Wake Forest University
AnaLouise Keating, Texas Woman's University
Rachel E. Luft, University of New Orleans
Gary K. Perry, Seattle University
Jennifer Rothchild, University of Minnesota, Morris
Ann Russo, DePaul University
Natalie J. Sabik, University of Michigan
Jessica Holden Sherwood, University of Rhode Island
Yvette Taylor, University of Newcastle, United Kingdom
Nira Yuval-Davis, University of East London

Excerpt

One could even say that intersectionality is the most important theoretical contribution that
women’s studies, in conjunction with related fields, has made so far.

— LESLIE MCCALL

Race, class, and gender were once seen as separate issues for members of both dominant and subordinate groups. Now, scholars generally agree that these issues (as well as ethnicity, nation, age, and sexuality) — and how they intersect — are integral to individuals’ positions in the social world (Andersen and Collins 2006; Arrighi 2001; Collins 1993; Cyrus 1999; Ore 2000; Rothman 2005; Weber 2004). These intersections are referred to as the race-class-gender matrix, the intersectional paradigm, interlocking systems of oppression, multiple axes of inequality, the intersection, and intersectionality; like most authors, we use the term “intersectional approach” to refer to the research application of these concepts. Scholars using the intersectional approach will socially locate individuals in the context of their “real lives” (Weber 2004, 123). They also examine how both formal and informal systems of power are deployed, maintained, and reinforced through axes of race, class, and gender (Collins 1998; Weber 2006). Research using the intersectional approach broadly extends across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that wherever one looks in women’s and gender studies and across much of the academy, intersectionality is being theorized, applied, or debated (see Anthias 2002; Avtar and Phoenix 2004; Dill and Zambrana 2009; Fine et al. 2004; Hancock 2007; Landry 2007; Mann and Grimes 2001; McCall 2005; Schultz and Mullings 2004; Simien 2006; Weber 2004; Yuval-Davis 2006).

We are feminist scholars whose teaching and research within women’s and gender studies has been significantly influenced by the last two decades of scholarship on race, class, gender, and sexuality. Our interest in exploring . . .

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