Black feminism

Intersectionality 101: A Reading List

What is intersectionality? Most references in intersectional scholarship point to Kimberlé Crenshaw’s 1991 Stanford Law Review article “Mapping The Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” as the initiation of of the concept into academia. Crenshaw combines literature on critical race theory to examine antiracist and feminist discourse on women of color as victims sexual violence, arguing that racism and sexism act as mutually interlocking systems of oppression, resulting in a form of disadvantage that affects Black women uniquely at three levels. Structural intersectionality refers to where systems of domination converge; political intersectionality addresses how individuals who identify with multiple subordinate groups may face challenges due to conflicting agendas of political discourse; and representational intersectionality involves a political discourse that acknowledges the significance of other discourses in addition to the power relations that both challenge and strengthen them.

First and foremost intersectionality is a product of Black feminist thought. Any discussion that fails to incorporate this intellectual history lacks a fundamental understanding of its purpose. The concept seems pretty popular lately in mainstream media, politics and activism. Some people have started to critique the concept, often without reference to any of the work cultivated on it. Such criticism suggests while interest is starting to pique, knowledge about it appears to be lacking overall. This reading list will help those interested in discussing it have a more holistic conversation about the topic.

The list includes academic articles, books, blogs and audiovisual material to give a wealth  of examples for those interested in race, class, gender and other intersections. Many of the readings serve as a primer while others have more advanced applications. The majority of these readings focus on Black women. Nevertheless, the research can benefit an understanding of intersectionality in general.

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Intersectionality Reading List

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