Critical Criminology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 305–318 | Cite as

Intersectional Criminology: Interrogating Identity and Power in Criminological Research and Theory

  • Hillary PotterEmail author


Intersectional criminology is a theoretical approach that necessitates a critical reflection on the impact of interconnected identities and statuses of individuals and groups in relation to their experiences with crime, the social control of crime, and any crime-related issues. This approach is grounded in intersectionality, a concept developed from the tenets of women of color feminist theory and activism. To demonstrate how intersectionality is useful in criminology, this article reviews a sampling of feminist and critical research conducted on Black girls’ and women’s experiences with crime, victimization, and criminal legal system processes. This research demonstrates the interlaced social impacts of race, gender, femininity/masculinity ideals, sexuality, and socioeconomic class. This article also provides a basis for widely deploying an intersectional approach throughout the field of criminology across all social identities and statuses.


Intimate Partner Violence White Woman Black Woman Feminist Theory Black Girl 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alexander-Floyd, N. G. (2012). Disappearing acts: Reclaiming intersectionality in the social sciences in a post-black feminist era. Signs, 24(1), 1–25.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, E. (1999). Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  3. Anthias, F., & Yuval-Davis, N. (1983). Contextualizing feminism: Gender, ethnic and class divisions. Feminist Review, 15, 62–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnold, R. A. (1990). Process of victimization and criminalization of black women. Social Justice, 17(3), 153–166.Google Scholar
  5. Beal, F. [1970]1995. Double jeopardy: To be black and female. In B. Guy-Sheftall (Ed.), Words of fire: An anthology of African-American feminist thought (pp. 145–155). New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bui, H. N. (2004). In the adopted land: Abused immigrant women and the criminal justice system. Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  7. Burgess-Proctor, A. (2006). Intersections of race, class, gender, and crime: Future directions for feminist criminology. Feminist Criminology, 1(1), 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carbado, D. W. (2013). Colorblind intersectionality. Signs, 38(4), 811–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cho, S., Crenshaw, K., & McCall, L. (2013). Toward a field of intersectionality studies: Theory, applications, and praxis. Signs, 38(4), 785–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chun, J. J., Lipsitz, G., & Shin, Y. (2013). Intersectionality as a social movement strategy: Asian immigrant women advocates. Signs, 38(4), 917–940.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cleaver, K. N. (1997). Racism, civil rights, and feminism. In A. K. Wing (Ed.), Critical race feminism: A reader (pp. 35–43). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Collins, P. H. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Collins, P. H. (2006). From black power to hip hop: Racism, nationalism, and feminism. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139–167.Google Scholar
  15. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity, politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crenshaw, K. (2011). Postcript. In H. Lutz, M. T. H. Vivar, & L. Supik (Eds.), Framing intersectionality: Debates on a multifaceted concept in gender studies (pp. 221–233). Surrey, England: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  17. Daly, K. (2010). Feminist perspectives in criminology: A review with Gen Y in mind. In E. McLaughlin & T. Newburn (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of criminological theory (pp. 225–246). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis, A. Y. (1983). Women, race and class. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  19. Davis, K. (2008). Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful. Feminist Theory, 9(1), 67–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. De Coster, S., & Heimer, K. (2006). Crime at the intersections: Race, class, gender, and violent offending. In R. D. Peterson, L. J. Krivo, & J. Hagan (Eds.), The many colors of crime: Inequalities of race, ethnicity, and crime in America (pp. 138–156). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Diáz-Cotto, J. (2006). Chicana lives and criminal justice: Voices from el barrio. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  22. García, A. M. (Ed.). (1997). Chicana feminist thought: The basic historical writings. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Giddings, P. (1984). When and where I enter: The impact of black women on race and sex in America. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  24. Gilbert, O. 1998(1850). Narrative of Sojourner Truth. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  25. Gordon, V. V. (1987). Black women, feminism and black liberation: Which way?. Chicago: Third World Press.Google Scholar
  26. Guy-Sheftall, B. (Ed.). (1995). Words of fire: An anthology of African-American feminist thought. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hull, G. T., Scott, P. B., & Smith, B. (1982). All the women are white, all the blacks are men, but some of us are brave: Black women’s studies. New York: The Feminist Press.Google Scholar
  28. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. (2006). Color of violence: The INCITE! Anthology. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  29. Jones, N. (2010). Between good and ghetto: African American girls and inner-city violence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Josephson, J. (2002). The intersectionality of domestic violence and welfare in the lives of poor women. Journal of Poverty, 6(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. King, Deborah. K. (1988). multiple jeopardy, multiple consciousness: The context of black feminist ideology. Signs, 14(1), 42–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lykke, N. (2011). Intersectional analysis: Black box or useful critical feminist thinking technology. In H. Lutz, M. T. H. Vivar, & L. Supik (Eds.), Framing intersectionality: Debates on a multifaceted concept in gender studies (pp. 207–220). Surrey, England: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  33. McCall, L. (2005). The complexity of intersectionality. Signs, 30(3), 1771–1800.Google Scholar
  34. Messerschmidt, J. W. (1993). Masculinities and crime: Critique and reconceptualization of theory. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  35. Messerschmidt, J. W. (1997). Crime as structured action: Gender, race, class, and crime in the making. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Moraga, C., & Anzaldúa, G. (Eds.). (2002). This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press.Google Scholar
  37. Nash, J. C. (2008). Re-thinking intersectionality. Feminist Review, 89(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Painter, N. I. (1996). Sojourner truth: A life, a symbol. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  39. Potter, H. (2006). An argument for black feminist criminology: Understanding African American women’s experiences with intimate partner abuse using an integrated approach. Feminist Criminology, 1(2), 106–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Potter, H. (2008). Battle cries: Black women and intimate partner abuse. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Potter, H., & Thomas, D. T. (2012). We told you that’s how they are: Responses to white women in abusive intimate relationships with men of color. Deviant Behavior, 33(6), 469–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Richie, B. E. (1996). Compelled to crime: The gender entrapment of battered black women. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Richie, B. E. (2012). Arrested justice: Black women, violence, and America’s prison nation. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Roth, B. (2004). Separate roads to feminism: Black, Chicana, and white feminist movements in America’s second wave. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Smith, B. (Ed.). (1983). Home girls: A black feminist anthology. New York: Kitchen Table Women of Color Press.Google Scholar
  46. Smith, A. (2005). Conquest: Sexual violence and American Indian genocide. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  47. Tomlinson, B. (2013). To tell the truth and not get trapped: Desire, distance, and intersectionality at the scene of argument. Signs, 38(4), 993–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Villalón, R. (2010). Violence against Latina immigrants: Citizenship, inequality, and community. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Visher, C. A. (1983). Gender, police arrest decisions, and notions of chivalry. Criminology, 21(1), 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wing, A. K. (Ed.). (1997). Critical race feminism: A reader. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Wing, A. K. (Ed.). (2003). Critical race feminism: A reader (2nd ed.). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations