Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Is the State Part of the Matrix of Domination and Intersectionality? an Anarchist Inquiry 1

Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Is the State Part of the Matrix of Domination and Intersectionality? an Anarchist Inquiry 1

Article excerpt

[T]he humanity we see is nothing other than state fodder with which the ever more gluttonous state is being fed. Humanity is now only state humanity and has lost its identity for centuries, in fact ever since there has been a state.

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters

Theorisations of the matrix of domination and intersectionality, first developed by black feminists,2 are one of the most, or maybe the most, significant innovation in social sciences and activism in the last decades. Today, the notions of 'matrix of domination' (Hill Collins 1991) and, especially, 'intersectionality' (Crenshaw 1989 and 1994) have become 'buzzwords' (Davis 2011, p43) in discussions on power relations and on emancipation struggles. This framework was developed with the twofold purpose (Dunezat & Galerand 2010, pp23-33) of achieving a better understanding of (1) material, psychological and symbolic inequalities (Winker & Degele 2011, p56; Shield 2008, p303) by stressing that any analysis addressing only one type of power relation makes other such relations invisible, and (2) tensions arising within feminist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist activist and academic projects and processes.

Academic networks and associations (Lada 2010),3 social movements, nongovernment organisations, and international institutions have discussed and adopted the intersectional approach. Even the state has taken an interest, as evidenced, for instance, by the enactment of anti-discrimination policies (Yuval- Davis 2006, pp193-194; Verloo 2006, pp211-228; see also Hughes 2011). The 'hype' (Lutz et al. 2011, p9) surrounding intersectionality is such that its 'remarkable popularity' has itself become a subject of analysis (Bilge 2009, p78; Davis 2011; see also Winker & Degele 2011, p51; Burgess-Proctor 2006, p35).

The systems or categories usually identified in the literature on the matrix of domination and intersectionality are sex, race, and class (Burgess-Proctor 2006, p37), variously referred to as the 'big three' (Hearn 2011, p89), the 'triptych' (Jaunait & Chauvin 2012, p9), the 'trinity' (Lutz et al. 2011, 8), the 'Holy Trinity' (Creese & Stasiulis 1996, p8), or the 'litany' (Denis 2008, p685). Sexuality (Brath & Phoenix 2004) or sexual orientation (Denis 2008, p679; Shield 2008, p303) are frequently added to the list. While these are thought to be 'the most salient in producing oppression and offering sites of resistance' (Creese & Stasiulis 1996, p9), some documents identify many more (Collectif de recherche sur l'autonomie collective - CRAC - 2011;4 see also Achin et al. 2009; Creese & Stasiulis 1996, p9; Davis 2011, p49; Denis 2008, p679; Hearn 2011; Kergoat 2005, p96; Poiret 2005, p196; Shield 2008, p303, p309; Winker & Degele 2011, p55; Zarifian 2010, p55). In my research I have catalogued a total of twenty-nine: sex/gender, race, skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, culture, tradition and development, language, religion, ancestry, sexual orientation, sexual practices, age, able-bodiedness, lookism, caste, socio-economic class, property ownership, skills, geographic location, urbanicity, sedantariness, virtuality (cyberspace) and transnationality; migrant, indigenous, refugee or displaced person status, health status, HIV/AIDS, living in a war zone or under foreign occupation and ecology (one's relationship with nature) also feature in the matrix.

Overall, this abundant plurality testifies to a concern with accurately mapping the 'matrix of domination' through the inclusion of all possible intersections, which means taking into consideration a very broad diversity of social systems and inequalities among categories. According to Patricia Hill Collins, intersectional analysis does not account for every oppression but assesses which oppressions impact on any given situation.5

Yet none of the relevant literature and surveys include any reference to the state as a system of domination. Instead, the state is viewed as a secondary institution whose role is to strengthen the systems of domination or to curb their most pernicious effects. …

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