Introduction to Intersectionality
Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, forcefully challenges the idea that gender is the primary factor organizing women’s lives. Drawing on black feminist and critical legal theory, Crenshaw maintains that the experience of being a woman must be understood through the interrelation of race and gender. In other words, she proposes racial justice as central to feminist theory and politics. In the 30-plus years since the publication of Crenshaw’s article, the term has been revised, critiqued, expanded, and reinvigorated, most notably by Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Barbara Tomlinson, and Jennifer Nash. What is intersectionality? What strands of feminism was it developed in response to? And, what follows, theoretically and politically, from intersectional critique?
This course will begin with an examination of Crenshaw’s groundbreaking essay and the black feminist theory with which it’s in conversation, such as the concept of simultaneity developed by the Combahee River Collective, Frances Beale’s notion of double jeopardy, and work by Angela Davis and Audre Lorde. We’ll then explore the ways intersectionality has influenced feminist theory, asking: What are the assorted meanings of intersectionality and do they all refer to the same set of ideas? How has this term been put to work in the analysis of racial and gender inequality, and how has it been expanded to take into account hierarchies related to sexuality, (dis)ability, and imperialism? How does intersectionality highlight whose experience is “centered” and whose is “marginalized”? How does it relate to issues of class and Marxist-feminist conceptions of social reproduction? And, as we finish with more recent work by Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins, we’ll ask: What are the stakes for intersectionality today?
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
April 14 — May 05, 2020