Intersectional Criminologies for the Contemporary Moment: Crucial Questions of Power, Praxis and Technologies of Control

Abstract

This article reflects on the growing acceptance of intersectional criminology alongside emergent challenges of the contemporary moment. In light of social changes, the article asks: What is important about intersectionality and its relationship to criminology? How might we sustain and nurture these crucial dimensions and connections? Exploring answers to these questions, we consider how to retain intersectional commitments in areas of increasing importance, such as ubiquitous surveillance and technologies of policing. In discussing how we might examine and unpack the workings of interlocking systems of oppression and their effects, this article addresses how intersectional criminologists might reflect more critically on their methodologies to ensure robust analysis and incorporate frameworks that better capture the technosocial entanglements emblematic of ongoing shifts in social control. After reviewing approaches for doing so, the article concludes with a reflection on implications for intersectional criminological praxis.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Following Hochman (2018), we use “racialized” to acknowledge that individuals, groups, and structures become racialized through worldly processes, not as a result of their inherent attributes.

  2. 2.

    Nash (2019) uses “women’s studies” to delineate the “interdiscipline”—a term that Binder (1987) employed to describe criminology—that is also referred to as “feminist studies,” “gender studies,” “gender and sexuality studies,” and “women’s and gender studies.” We use her terminology in the interests of consistency, not to suggest the field is limited to the study of women.

  3. 3.

    We thank Jenna Imad Harb and Rita Shah for their perspectives on the significance of the event.

  4. 4.

    This framing of science and technology focuses on the material-semiotic dimensions of practice and thus requires attention to how both are co-constitutive and historically situated.

  5. 5.

    The practice of “mainstreaming a gender perspective,” which is often referred to as “gender mainstreaming,” is meant to incorporate women-centered perspectives and gender-sensitive research to enhance policy implementation (Association for Women’s Rights in Development 2004). Such strategies aim to achieve gender equality yet are recognized as encapsulating “many of the tensions and dilemmas in feminist theory and practice” (Walby 2005: 321).

  6. 6.

    We do not mean to suggest that all quantitative research undermines intersectionality because such work can aid in rendering structural intersectionality more visible. We do, however, believe positivistic training does not provide adequate preparation for carrying out intersectional analysis. The academic division of labor between quantitative and qualitative research methodologists, which is common in criminology, exacerbates these issues.

  7. 7.

    We should note that there are many qualitative studies that are not attentive to intersectional concerns. We mention quantitative research because of its privileged status in criminology and the clear challenges of capturing dynamic (yet alone multiplicative) social processes using positivistic methods (see Lynch et al. 2017).

  8. 8.

    Acknowledging Ahmed’s (2008) criticisms of “new materialism,” we refrain from using the term. Specifically, she argues recent feminist materialist critiques often disregard the important ways that poststructural analyses have examined constitutive relationships between the substantive and the discursive.

  9. 9.

    Feminist technoscience does not limit its inquiry to areas in the so-called Global North or to practices deemed modern. Wacjman (2010), for example, acknowledges that Indigenous women are among the first peoples to innovate in a technological sense.

  10. 10.

    Puar (2017: 172) also warns that a focus on matter may seek to disrupt the dominance of linguistic explanations of power, but that there is a danger that doing so might “privilege an essentialist truth produced through matter.”

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Henne, K., Troshynski, E.I. Intersectional Criminologies for the Contemporary Moment: Crucial Questions of Power, Praxis and Technologies of Control. Crit Crim 27, 55–71 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-019-09441-z

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