Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Disciplines

Civil Rights and Discrimination | Human Rights Law | Law | Law and Race | Race and Ethnicity

Center/Program

Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies

Abstract

Very few theories have generated the kind of interdisciplinary and global engagement that marks the intellectual history of intersectionality. Yet, there has been very little effort to reflect upon precisely how intersectionality has moved across time, disciplines, issues, and geographic and national boundaries. Our failure to attend to intersectionality’s movement has limited our ability to see the theory in places in which it is already doing work and to imagine other places to which the theory might be taken. Addressing these questions, this special issue reflects upon the genesis of intersectionality, engages some of the debates about its scope and theoretical capacity, marks some of its disciplinary and global travels, and explores the future trajectory of the theory. To do so, the volume includes academics from across the disciplines and from outside of the United States. Their respective contributions help us to understand how intersectionality has moved and to broaden our sense of where the theory might still go.

Rooted in Black feminism and Critical Race Theory, intersectionality is a method and a disposition, a heuristic and analytic tool. In the 1989 landmark essay “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced the term to address the marginalization of Black women within not only antidiscrimination law but also in feminist and antiracist theory and politics. Two years later, Crenshaw (1991) further elaborated the framework in “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.” There, she employed intersectionality to highlight the ways in which social movement organization and advocacy around violence against women elided the vulnerabilities of women of color, particularly those from immigrant and socially disadvantaged communities.

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