Intersectional Research

Following are a series of resources to help you get started in understanding the history and approach of intersectional research. We have also provided a working definition to help orient you, as well as some potential questions to consider for our conversation on May 8, 2017.

All links open in new tabs.

Defining Intersectionality

Crewnshaw articulates a theory of intersectionality in a law review article, demonstrating the need for understanding feminism and oppression not merely from a white perspective. She introduces “the concept of intersectionality to denote the various ways in which race and gender interact to shape the multiple dimensions of  Black women’s employment experiences” (p. 1244); insodoing, she illustrated “that many of the experience Black women face are not subsumed within the traditional boundaries of race or gender discrimination as these boundaries are currently understood, and that the intersection of racismn and sexim factors into Balck women’s lives in ways that cannot be captured wholly by looking at the race or gender dimensions of those experiences separately” (p. 1244). In her work, she explores Black women’s experiences, but she looked towards expanding the methodology and analytical framework to include other perspectives as well. She writes, “By tracing the categories to their intersections, I hope to suggest a methodology that will ultimately disrupt the tendencies to see race and gender as exclusive or separable…while the primary intersections that I explore here are between race and gender, the concept can and should be expanded by factoring in issues such as class, sexual orientation, age, and color” (p. 1244).



Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams. (2015). The urgency of intersectionality. TED Women2016. [18+ minute video]  view video at: [Crenshaw discusses intersectionality in a TED Talk format]

Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review 43: 1241-99. Download at: [One of her first key essays]

Hill Collins, Patricia. (1990). Black feminist thought. London: Harper Collins. [Published before Crenshaw coined “intersectionality,” but theorizes the interlocking power relations of race, class, and gender in ways important to intersectional work]

Introductory Materials (some research/ some teaching)

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. (2013). Kimberlé Crenshaw instructors’ guide: Free Resources on intersectionality, criticial race theory across disciplines. Materials developed for a talk given at Boise State. Accessible at: [Helpful as a guide that Lisa used locally with teachers (and their students)]

Hankivsky, Olena. (2014). Intersectionality 101. San Francisco: The Institute for Intersectionality Research & Policy, SFU. Download at:  [a primer on intersectionality]

Hill Collins, Patricia, and Sirma Bilge. (2016). Intersectionality: Key concepts.  London: Polity Press.    [Approachable introductory text that can be given to interested new students looking for a foundation and /or a bridge to key issues and important texts]

Hunting, Gemma. (2014). Intersectionality-informed qualitative research: A primer. San Francisco: The Institute for Intersectionality Research & Policy, SFU. Download at: [Some researchers in the field will wonder how it differs from other methods, but it is well researched and can provide a view that could be helpful to some.]

Intersectionality Research Database (U Maryland) [This research database presents (and usually annotates) work on intersectionality that crosses a number of fields and can give scholars and teachers a way to see models and research practices. The database contains cross linked and annotated entries using the following 16 categories: Colorism/Racial-Ethnic; Criminal Justice; Disability; Family; Health/Mental; Health/Well-being; Higher Education; P-12 Education; Religion/Spirituality; Sexuality; Stratification/Immigration; Theorizing Intersectionality; Violence and Power; Welfare/Poverty; Work/Labor]

No author indicated. (2017). Black feminisms 101. A reading list. Available at Download at: [includes popular and academic sources]

Emerging Issues, Critiques, Theories, Practices    (could include many articles; a sampling follows)

Anthias, Floya. (2012). Intersectional what? Social divisions, intersectionality and levels of analysis. Ethnicities 13 (1), 3-19. [Focuses on the dialogic nature of social relations that are uncovered by intersectional work and talks about how different levels of analysis feed intomulti-leveled frames that can be sensitive to space and time.]

Jones, Natasha N., Kristen R. Moore, & Rebecca Walton. (2016). Disrupting the past to disrupt the future: An Antenarrative of technical communication, Technical Communication Quarterly  25 (4), 211-229. [Counternarratives often are used in intersectional research. How do we think about what happens, these authors ask, before narratives that will be countered?]

McCall, Leslie. (2005). The complexity of intersectionality. Signs 30, 1771–1800. [Connects early and more current uses on intersectionality. Presents three frames for sociological research that relies on intersectionality, namely, anti-,inter- and intracategorical work; then she shows how each operates in some published studies.]

MacKinnon, Catharine A. (2013). Intersectionality as method: A note. Signs 38 (4), 1019-1030. [Examines intersectionality in its legal setting and argues that as a method it addresses “the problem of white supremacy and male dominance,” exposing the framework to critical light. Credits Crenshaw for separating black women’s experiences and clarifying their double discrimination (sometimes as women ala in company with white women and sometimes as raced ala in company with black men).]

Pluckrose, Helen. (2017, February 15). What’s wrong with intersectional feminism? Aero Magazine. Download at:         [critiques some ideological assumptions that author often finds operating in intersectional feminism]

Purdie-Vaughns, Valerie, and Richard P. Eibach. (2008). Intersectional invisibility: The distinctive advantages and disadvantages of multiple subordinate-group identities. Sex Roles 59: 377-391. [Develops a model that tries to explain how the margins of the marginal are (or can be) rendered invisible]

Questions and Topics to Potentially Discuss (5.8.17)

Intersectionality (a theory growing out of black feminist lawyers’ efforts to complicate understandings of race, gender, and class) has become heterogenously applied because its approaches support taking complex approaches to the issues we face. Intersectionality has:

  1. gained acceptance as feminist/cultural theory, as a family research approaches that travel across disciplines particularly in their cultural studies, and as a component of cultural pedagogies;
  2. provided languages and practices that further our abilities to study, to understand, and to help our students think through complex issues connected with social justice;
  3. attracted critique that pushed it toward more sophisticated articulations and
  4. generally “stood in” for the consideration of “other” in power analyses.

It is a concept that has proven it can (and does) travel well. Thus, as it is already operating in TC through the efforts of those involved in social justice activism, today we seek to brainstorm such TC topics as:

  1. How intersectionality is being used in TC (e.g., is it best suited to community participation projects or public policy initiatives….or can it be fit into most/all areas?)
  2. How intersectionality may help us achieve more robust cultural work in TC that incorporates it
  3. What adjustments might be needed to some of intersectionality’s core moves/practices/analytics
  4. How consideration of intersectionality has been (and may be) incorporated into TC assignments and courses (e.g. how/where introduced so that it manages maximum impact?)
  5. Is intersectionality only for women?

Keeping in mind that the literature on intersectionality is vast, our resources point you to readings/sites that begin to address:

  1. How did intersectionality emerge? Does it need to embrace liberalism (or parts of it) to thrive?
  2. How might it contribute to work in TC?
    1. Research and its methods (e.g., gathering of and analysis of microaggressions or counterstorytelling)
    2. Theory (e.g., models of intersections such as McCall’s anti-, inter-, and intracategorical complexities)
    3. Pedagogy (e.g., cognitive maps that overlap/connect/divide intersectional concepts, issues, practices)
  3. What practices might we adopt from it, even when we do not adopt intersectional theory as our anchoring philosophy/theory?