Intersectionality: Origins, Contestations, Horizons

Intersectionality: Origins, Contestations, Horizons

Intersectionality: Origins, Contestations, Horizons

Intersectionality: Origins, Contestations, Horizons

Synopsis

Intersectionality intervenes in the field of intersectionality studies: the integrative examination of the effects of racial, gendered, and class power on people's lives. While "intersectionality" circulates as a buzzword, Anna Carastathis joins other critical voices to urge a more careful reading. Challenging the narratives of arrival that surround it, Carastathis argues that intersectionality is a horizon, illuminating ways of thinking that have yet to be realized; consequently, calls to "go beyond" intersectionality are premature. A provisional interpretation of intersectionality can disorient habits of essentialism, categorial purity, and prototypicality and overcome dynamics of segregation and subordination in political movements.

Through a close reading of critical race theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw's germinal texts, published more than twenty-five years ago, Carastathis urges analytic clarity, contextual rigor, and a politicized, historicized understanding of this widely traveling concept. Intersectionality's roots in social justice movements and critical intellectual projects--specifically Black feminism--must be retraced and synthesized with a decolonial analysis so its radical potential to actualize coalitions can be enacted.

Excerpt

At its core, this is a book about reading and listening. At times, as I wrote it, I was not sure I wanted to advance an argument to the extent it required me to shift from reading and listening to writing and speaking, and in a sense— since the argument centrally concerns the politics of interpretation and representation— to speaking for others. But since I have now done that, I want to preface what I have written with a story about the “locus of enunciation” of its author. the Cherokee-Greek writer Thomas King has said that “the truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” I tell this story with trepidation, vulnerability and apprehension, knowing that stories are “dangerous” as much as they are “wondrous”; we can become “chained” to them, and they cannot be called back; once told, they are “loose in the world” (King 2003).

I was born in 1981, the same year Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa first published This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, across an ocean, on a different continent, probably in a different world. a decade later I would fly above that ocean and arrive on northeastern Turtle Island an “immigrant.” Still another decade would pass. in my early twenties, attending graduate school, I would come across this book for the first time in a university library (it would be none the worse for wear) in an attempt to educate myself with respect to women-of-color feminisms in an academic context where, to my disappointment and frustration, they were institutionally, disciplinarily, and phenomenologically underrepresented. Becoming absorbed in its . . .

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