Feminist Review

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

re-thinking intersectionality

  • Jennifer C Nash


Intersectionality has become the primary analytic tool that feminist and anti-racist scholars deploy for theorizing identity and oppression. This paper exposes and critically interrogates the assumptions underpinning intersectionality by focusing on four tensions within intersectionality scholarship: the lack of a defined intersectional methodology; the use of black women as quintessential intersectional subjects; the vague definition of intersectionality; and the empirical validity of intersectionality. Ultimately, my project does not seek to undermine intersectionality; instead, I encourage both feminist and anti-racist scholars to grapple with intersectionality's theoretical, political, and methodological murkiness to construct a more complex way of theorizing identity and oppression.


intersectionality race and gender feminist theory anti-racist theory 


  1. Chang, R.S. and Culp, J.M. (2002) ‘After intersectionality’ University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review, Vol. 71: 485–491.Google Scholar
  2. Churchill, M.F. (1999) ‘Review’ Melus, Vol. 22, No. 3: 199–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Collins, P.H. (2000) Black Feminist Thought, 2nd edition, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Crenshaw, K. (1989) Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics, 1989 University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139.Google Scholar
  5. Crenshaw, K. (1991) ‘Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color’ Stanford Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 6: 1241–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crenshaw, K. (1992) ‘Whose story is it anyway? Feminist and antiracist appropriations of Anita Hill’ in Morrison, T. (1992), editor, Race-ing Justice, Engendering Power, New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, A. (1981) Women Race and Class, New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  8. Ferguson, A. (2000) ‘Resisting the veil of privilege: building bridge identities as an ethico-politics of global feminisms’ in Narayan, U. and Harding, S. (2000), editors, Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Harris, A. (1989) ‘Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory’ Stanford Law Review, Vol. 42: 581–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Higginbotham, E.B. (1992) ‘African-American women's history and the metalanguage of race’ Signs, Vol. 17, No. 2: 251–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kwan, P. (1996) ‘Jeffrey Dahmer and the cosynthesis of categories’ Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 48: 1257–1292.Google Scholar
  12. Matsuda, M. (1987) ‘Looking to the bottom: critical legal studies and reparations’ Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Vol. 22: 323–399.Google Scholar
  13. Matsuda, M. (1990) ‘Beside my sister, facing the enemy: legal theory out of coalition’ Stanford Law Review, Vol. 43: 1183–1192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Matsuda, M. (1992) ‘When the first quail calls: multiple consciousness as jurisprudential method’ Women's Rights Law Reporter, Vol. 14: 297–300.Google Scholar
  15. McCall, L. (2005) ‘The complexity of intersectionality’ Signs, Vol. 30, No. 3: 1771–1800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Moraga, C. (1983) Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Paso Por Sus Labios, Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  17. Morrison, T. (1992) editor, Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality, New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  18. Smith, B. (1983) editor, Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, New York: Kitchen Table Press.Google Scholar
  19. Spelman, E. (1988) Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought, Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  20. Wacquant, L. (1997) ‘For an analytic of racial domination’ in Davis, D.E. (1997), editor, Political Power and Social Theory II, Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 221–234.Google Scholar
  21. Walcott, R. (2005) ‘Outside in black studies’ in Johnson, E.P. and Henderson, M.G. (2005), editors, Black Queer Studies, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Walker, A. (1983) In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  23. Williams, P.J. (1989) The Alchemy of Race and Rights, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Wing, A.K. (1990) ‘Brief reflections toward a multiplicative theory and praxis of being’ Berkeley Women's Law Journal, Vol. 6: 181–201.Google Scholar
  25. Zack, N. (2005) Inclusive Feminism: A Third Wave Theory of Women's Commonality, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Feminist Review Ltd 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer C Nash

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations