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Keywords/ Intersectionality

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Jenna Brager

on 6 October 2015

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Transcript of Keywords/ Intersectionality


sexual activity--"real and imagined acts"
categories of reproductive function into which most living things are divided--"material foundation"
to determine the sex of
What is intersectionality?
Key theorists include: Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, Cathy Cohen
Consider the genealogy and usage of common words that shape our society
What is Burgett's argument?

What does he want us to question or trouble about "sex"?
a social relation/ mode of oppression
John Money: "the distinction between bodily sex (male and female), and social roles (masculinity and femininity), [and] the frequent discontinuities between sex and role" (Halberstam 117).
Fausto-Sterling: "gender ideology produces the epistemological framework within which sex takes on meaning rather than the other way around" (117)
How has "gender" been used and understood different at different moments, and especially by different movements within feminist scholarship?

How have you heard the word "gender" used in popular culture and by the public?
What is a sex/gender system?

How can "socially sedimented" categories be harmful? What do activists propose to mitigate these harms? (119)
the body as a text
race as "strict biological inheritance" v. race "as a category with broad political and economic implications" (Ferguson, 192)
Close Reading:
Roderick A. Ferguson
Page 191
Close Reading Skills:
Have a plan for reading
Be an active reader
Ask questions of the text
Build your own argument

Comes out of a legal/ civil rights framework
I started my presentation by quoting Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashina: “Fuck that word ‘intersectionality,’ but, you know, be it.” I felt that this quote was very apt for this panel, because “intersectionality” has become a fancy buzzword among rather privileged academic feminists and others, eclipsing the fact that intersectionality is and has always been a lived reality of many people who struggle against multiple oppressions whether or not they use or even know the term.
— Shakesville: Silencing and Intimidation of Women of Color at ‘Men Against Sexism’ Conference by Emi Koyama
"Intersectionality was introduced in the late 1980s as a heuristic [strategic problem-solving] term to focus attention on the vexed dynamics of difference and the solidarities of sameness in the context of antidiscrimination and social movement politics. It exposed how single-axis thinking undermines legal thinking, disciplinary knowledge production, and struggles for social justice." --Signs Journal 2013
How and when is intersectionality useful?
Intersections v. Assemblages

Take some time to reflect on what identities, positions, and forms of difference operate in your own life. These questions might help:

What elements make up your identity? What matters to who “you” are?
Race, age, sex/gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, class/socioeconomic status, kind of family you belong to, type of education you have received, religions, friendship networks, hobbies, nationality, immigration status
Do you experience these elements of your identity as separate from each other or do they overlap (i.e. if you are a woman and you are African American, do you experience these identities different than someone who is a man and is African American?)?
Based on these identities, are there places where you experience privilege? Are there places where you experience oppression? How “visible” are the forms of privilege that you experience?
What do you carry in your “invisible” knapsack?

In-class Writing Exercise: Identity, Difference, and Privilege

“…I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self. But this is a destructive and fragmenting way to live…” (Lorde, 5)

“As a white person, I realized that since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was mostly likely a phenomenon of white privilege which was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege which puts me at an advantage” (McIntosh 1).
"black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,"
Audre Lorde
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name--biomythography
Caribbean-American writer and
Major influence and voice in confronting racism in contemporary feminist thought
Combahee River Collective
Black feminist collective active in Boston from 1974-1980
Named after a military action led by Harriet Tubman that freed hundreds of slaves in 1863
multidimensional analysis--simultaneity of oppressions
coined "identity politics"-- "a politics that grew out of our objective material experiences as Black women.
Collective statement is integral to contemporary understandings of intersectionality
Who is Lorde addressing? What is the historical context of these writings?
What are the "masters tools"? What is the "masters house"?
What does Lorde mean by "survival is not an academic skill" (442)?
How can we think about the personal as political?
Who is this statement addressing?
What are "identity politics"?
How does this take up the idea of the personal as political?
What are some of the key methods and goals of the CRC?

How does McIntosh describe racism? privilege?
What is the "accountability" that both McIntosh and the Combahee River Collective reference?
What does the statement "all of the oppressions are interlocking" mean?
Do you agree with McIntosh's list? Her recommendations based on her list?
Returning to our writing exercise at the beginning of class: Are there places where you experience privilege? Are there places where you experience oppression? How “visible” are the forms of privilege that you experience? What do you carry in your “invisible” knapsack?
Cyborg As Other
What are some other contemporary examples of cyborgs in pop culture? What utopian or dystopian desires and fears do they reveal?
Are we cyborgs? If so, how?
Cyborg as gendered
What is a cyborg?
What is a "natural body"? What is a "techno-body"?
How is the idea of the cyborg related to biopower and surveillance?
How is the techno-body gendered?
"When the human body is fractured into organs, fluids, and genetic codes, what happens to gender identity? When the body is fractured into functional parts and molecular codes, where is gender located? What is the relationship between reconstructed body parts and gender identity?
Theory in the Flesh
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