In feminist theory, intersectionality has become the predominant way of conceptualizing the relation between systems of oppression which construct our multiple identities and our social locations in hierarchies of power and privilege. The aim of this essay is to clarify the origins of intersectionality as a metaphor, and its theorization as a provisional concept in Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s work, followed by its uptake and mainstreaming as a paradigm by feminist theorists in a period marked by its widespread and rather unquestioned--if, (...) at times, superficial and inattentive--usage. I adduce four analytic benefits of intersectionality as a research paradigm: simultaneity, complexity, irreducibility and inclusivity. Then, I gesture at, and respond to some critiques of intersectionality advanced in the last few years, during which the concept has increasingly come under scrutiny. (shrink)
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw ends her landmark essay “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” with a normative claim about coalitions. She suggests that we should reconceptualize identity groups as “in fact coalitions,” or at least as “potential coalitions waiting to be formed.” In this essay, I explore this largely overlooked claim by combining philosophical analysis with archival research I conducted at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society Archive in San Francisco about Somos Hermanas, (...) the solidarity project of the Alliance Against Women’s Oppression, based in the San Francisco Women’s Building (1984–90). I extend my analysis into the present by drawing on the oral history and published works of Carmen Vázquez, a key organizer in both Somos Hermanas and the Women’s Building. I argue that conceptualizing identities as in fact coalitions—as complex, internally heterogeneous unities constituted by their internal differences and dissonances and by internal as well as external relations of power—enables us to organize effective political coalitions that cross existing identity categories and to pursue a liberatory politics of interconnection. (shrink)
This book intervenes in the field of intersectionality studies: the integrative examination of the effects of racial, gendered, and class power on people’s lives. While “intersectionality” circulates as a buzzword, Anna Carastathis joins other critical voices to urge a more careful reading. Challenging the narratives of arrival that surround it, Carastathis argues that intersectionality is a horizon, illuminating ways of thinking that have yet to be realized; consequently, calls to “go beyond” intersectionality are premature. A provisional interpretation of intersectionality can (...) disorient habits of essentialism, categorial purity, and prototypicality and overcome dynamics of segregation and subordination in political movements. -/- Through a close reading of critical race theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s germinal texts, published more than twenty-five years ago, Carastathis urges analytic clarity, contextual rigor, and a politicized, historicized understanding of this widely traveling concept. Intersectionality’s roots in social justice movements and critical intellectual projects—specifically Black feminism—must be retraced and synthesized with a decolonial analysis so its radical potential to actualize coalitions can be enacted. (shrink)
In this paper, I revisit Kimberlé Crenshaw's argument in “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex” (1989) to recover a companion metaphor that has been largely forgotten in the “mainstreaming” of intersectionality in (white-dominated) feminist theory. In addition to the now-famous intersection metaphor, Crenshaw offers the basement metaphor to show how—by privileging monistic, mutually exclusive, and analogically constituted categories of “race” and “sex” tethered, respectively, to masculinity and whiteness—antidiscrimination law functions to reproduce social hierarchy, rather than to remedy it, denying (...) Black women plaintiffs legal redress. I argue that in leaving the basement behind, deployments of “intersectionality” that deracinate the concept from its origins in Black feminist thought also occlude Crenshaw's account of the socio-legal reproduction of hierarchical power. (shrink)
Challenging the triumphal narrative of ‘political completion’ that surrounds intersectionality--as ‘the’ way to theorize the relationship among systems of oppression--and which helps to cement the impression of mainstream feminism’s arrival at a postracial moment, I argue we should instead approach intersectionality as a ‘provisional concept’ which disorients entrenched essentialist cognitive habits. Rather than assume that ‘intersectionality’ has a stable, positive definition, I suggest intersectionality anticipates rather than delivers the normative or theoretical goals often imputed to it.
Different evocations of “crisis” create distinct categories that in turn evoke certain social reactions. Post-2008, Greece became the epicentre of the “financial crisis”; simultaneously, since 2015 with the advent of the “refugee crisis,” it became the “hotspot of Europe.” What are the different vocabularies of crisis? Moreover, how have both representations of crisis facilitated humanitarian crises to become phenomena for European and transnational institutional management? What are the hegemonically constructed subjects of the different crises? The everyday reality in the crisis-ridden (...) hotspot of Europe is invisible in these representations. It is precisely the daily, soft, lived, and unspoken realities of intersecting crises that hegemonic discourses of successive, overlapping, or “nesting crises” render invisible. By shifting the focus from who belongs to which state-devised category to an open-ended, polyvocal account of capitalist oppressions, we aim to question the state’s and supranational efforts to divide the “migrant mob” into discrete juridical categories of citizens (emigrants), refugees, and illegal immigrants, thereby undermining coalitional struggles between precaritised groups. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the review: "For those familiar with McWhorter’s work, the publication of "Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America" was long awaited. I had en-countered an early form of the argument McWhorter rehearses in thisbook in an article she published in 2004 in "Hypatia." At that time, it was one of very few published critical engagements with the intersectional model of oppression. It had come to seem to me that, as the model became (...) “mainstreamed”—that is, appropriated from Black feminists, who had introduced and elaborated the concept—the representational purposes to which intersectionality was now harnessed had changed. McWhorter pondered whether the increasingly vague gesture to intersectionality in feminist circles had become little more than “just a strategy to avoid charges of racism or classism.” (McWhorter, 2004, 38–39) What I found impressive about that article was its iconoclasm. McWhorter’sproject was to go beyond postulating that racial and sexual oppressions intersect—a claim rarely theorised in mainstream (that is, white-dominated) feminist theory. She argued that a genealogical investigation of the production of race and sex could illuminate their common investment with a form of power that, following Foucault, she termed “biopower”...". (shrink)
What does it mean when calls to reconciliation come from dominant social groups? Whom do these calls address? What effects do they have? I take up these questions through a case study of the public discourse on “reasonable accommodation” in Québec. When the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences concluded its tour of the regions and cities of Québec and, in the spring of 2008, the commissioners (philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérard Bouchard) issued their report on (...) the state of ethnocultural relations, their titular emphasis was on reconciliation. Their report, "Building the Future: A Time for Reconciliation," urged the francophone Québécois majority and immigrant or immigrant-descended cultural and religious minorities in Québec – the two groups between whom the conflict was staged in the discourse of “reasonable accommodation” – each to take its respective responsibility to rebuild Québec interculturalism in the aftermath of its public “crisis.” My case study indicates that when performed by the dominant group, calls to reconciliation can function in a complicated way to reproduce, rather than to transform, existing relations of power. Specifically, in the context of a nation-building project of a white settler society they may bolster, rather than undermine, the social bases of power that characterize such societies. To demonstrate how the discourse of “reasonable accommodation” dissimulates as to its material effects, I invoke Sara Ahmed’s concept of “nonperformativity.”. (shrink)
In this chapter, I explore the role of violence in colonial rule and its role in decolonization struggle by posing the question, “what is alive in Fanon’s thought?” What can Fanon tell us about white settler state power and Fourth World decolonization struggles? I explore the relevance of Fanon’s account to the ongoing colonial situation on the northern part of Anówara Kawennote (Turtle Island), occupied by Canada. In this analysis, I am informed by Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) political philosopher Taiaiake Alfred. I (...) juxtapose Alfred’s theory of “nonviolent militancy” with Fanon’s concept of “violence in action.” I perform a reading of Fanon and Alfred to glean an understanding of the phenomenality of colonial state power. (shrink)
While the declared global “refugee crisis” has received considerable scholarly attention, little of it has focused on the intersecting dynamics of oppression, discrimination, violence, and subjugation. Introducing the special issue, this article defines feminist “intersectionality” as a research framework and a no-borders activist orientation in transnational and anti-national solidarity with people displaced by war, capitalism, and reproductive heteronormativity, encountering militarized nation-state borders. Our introduction surveys work in migration studies that engages with intersectionality as an analytic and offers a synopsis of (...) the articles in the special issue. As a whole, the special issue seeks to make an intersectional feminist intervention in research produced about (forced) migration. (shrink)
It has become commonplace within feminist theory to claim that women’s lives are constructed by multiple, intersecting systems of oppression. In this thesis, I challenge the consensus that oppression is aptly captured by the theoretical model of “intersectionality.” While intersectionality originates in Black feminist thought as a purposive intervention into US antidiscrimination law, it has been detached from that context and harnessed to different representational aims. For instance, it is often asserted that intersectionality enables a representational politics that overcomes legacies (...) of exclusion within hegemonic Anglo-American feminism. I argue that intersectionality reinscribes the political exclusion of racialized women as a feature of their embodied identities. That is, it locates the failure of political representation in the “complex” identities of “intersectional” subjects, who are constructed as unrepresentable in terms of “race” or “gender” alone. Further, I argue that intersectionality fails to supplant race- and class-privileged women as the normative subjects of feminist theory and politics. In Chapter One, I demonstrate that intersectionality illicitly imports unitary concepts of “race,” “gender,” and “class.” In Chapter Two, I argue that intersectionality lacks a theory of hierarchy: it is a “flat geography” which cannot capture vertical and horizontal lines of power. In Chapter Three, I explore the role of analogical reasoning in rendering racialized women invisible both as gendered and as racialized subjects in twentieth-century social movements. To concretize this argument, I turn to Simone de Beauvoir’s use of race-sex analogies to describe (white, bourgeois) “women’s” situation in The Second Sex. In Chapter Four, I advance a programmatic unified account of oppression. I suggest that the possibility of a unified theory (as opposed to an intersectional one) is intimated in the concrete articulation of race, class, and gender. My point of departure is a phenomenology of capitalism, which reveals that these are all fundamentally modes of exploitation and appropriation. In Chapter Five, I theorize how they are made visible (and invisible) on the body. I extend Frantz Fanon’s account of “epidermalization,” drawing upon the marxian concepts of “fetishism” and “mode of appearance” to elaborate four structures of gendered racialized perception: first, the “miscegenation taboo” structures perceptions of the “purity” of whiteness and the “polluting” effects of blackness. Whiteness, theorised as a “possessive investment” and as “property” is defined by the right to exclude. Second, the “episteme of tellable differences” produces the conviction that we can automatically “tell the difference” between a body placed in one “racial” or gender category, and another—while bodies that temporarily confound classification cause fear and consternation. Third, the “race/reproduction bind” names the axiomatic assumption that “race” is reproduced through (heterosexual) procreation and that “race” is, therefore, biologically inheritable. Finally, the “fear/criminalisation reflex” refers to the bidirectional equation of particular racialised-gendered bodies with crime, and of crime with those bodies; this a function of the discursive use of ‘crime’ as an alibi for “race’” the systemic racialisation of punitive carceral institutions, and the historical origins of “race” in transatlantic chattel slavery, which shaped perceptual-cognitive associations of freedom with whiteness and captivity with blackness. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the review: "The ambitious project of "Material Feminisms" is to inaugurate a 'materialist turn' in feminist theory. Reacting to the 'linguistic turn' effected by poststructuralist feminist thought, this voluminous collection brings together a number of feminist luminaries to think through the possibilities for a 'new settlement': a new approach to theorising the interactions and 'intra-actions' between nature and culture, materiality and signification, power and bodies, and the human and the more-than-human...".
[Abstract in English follows] -/- Το παρόν άρθρο πραγματεύεται την ατμοσφαιρική εννοιολόγηση της έμφυλης-φυλετικοποιημένης βίας, η οποία συνδέεται με τη μαύρη φεμινιστική σκέψη με την ύπαρξη και λειτουργία πολλαπλών, συνυφασμένων συστημάτων καταπίεσης. Παρουσιάζει μια διαθεματική προσέγγιση η οποία αποφεύγει την απομόνωση περιστατικών βίας από τις δομές, τους θεσμούς, τις υλικές, συναισθηματικές και αναπαραστατικές οικονομίες στο εσωτερικό των οποίων λαμβάνει χώρα η διαπροσωπική βία. Έπειτα, το άρθρο συνδέει την ατμοσφαιρικότητα της βίας με την ηγεμονία του φύλου, το οποίο υπό μια τρανσφεμινιστική (...) οπτική αποφαίνεται να αποτελεί όχι μόνο τη βάση ή την αφορμή βίαιων πράξεων, αλλά να αποτελεί βία. Τελικά, το άρθρο προτείνει ότι μια διαθεματική προσέγγιση καθιστά δυνατή την κριτική αντίληψη των λογοθετικών διάκενων μεταξύ των διαφόρων δηλωμένων και αδήλωτων κρίσεων και την αποπνικτική και αιφνιδιαστική βία που τις διαρθρώνει. -/- [Abstract] The atmosphericity of violence under conditions of intersecting crises [in Greek] -/- In this paper, I discuss the atmospheric conception of gendered-racialised violence, which in black feminist thought is connected to the existence and functioning of multiple, intermeshed systems of oppression. I present an intersectional approach, which avoids isolating or abstracting incidents of violence from the structures, institutions, material, affective, and representational economies in and through which interpersonal violence occurs. I connect the atmosphericity of violence to the hegemony of gender, which from a transfeminist perspective is revealed to constitute not only the basis or the pretext of violent acts, but to constitute violence. Finally, I suggest that an intersectional approach renders possible the critical perception of the discursive interstices between various declared and undeclared crises and the suffocating and sudden violence that articulates them. (shrink)
Despite a “spatial imaginary” which constructs Europe as a location of sexual and gender freedom (Rao, 2014), presently, twenty countries in Europe require sterilisation in order to legally recognise transgender people’s gender identities, including four of the seven countries in the INFERCIT study: Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Cyprus (but not Spain, which since 2007 does not require sterilisation for gender identity recognition [see Platero, 2008]. In Bulgaria and Lebanon no gender identity recognition for trans people is provided by law; the (...) latter lies outside the “European” region) (TGEU, 2014). Compulsory sterilisation—classified as a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (UN General Assembly, 1998: art. 7.1)—is widely in force against transgender people, who constitute “the only known group in Europe subject to legally prescribed, state-enforced sterilisation” (Hammarberg, 2009: 19). However, forced sterilisation of trans people is not generally conceptualised as a eugenicist or genocidal policy, in part because sterilisation is conflated with gender reassignment surgical interventions which, widely considered as that which brings transgender bodies into being, are in turn conflated with embodied transgender subjectivities. On this view, transgender individuals could not exist except through a medicalised process that, by design, precludes their “natural” reproductive capacities and is generally not accompanied by fertility preservation or the provision of assisted reproduction technologies (Plemons, 2014: 38; De Sutter et al., 2002; De Sutter, 2001). Sterilisation laws are justified through a pathologising discourse on transgender lives which constructs gender reassignment interventions as medical “treatment” of gender identity disorder (Suess, Espineira & Crego Walters, 2014: 73-76). Adopting a depathologising perspective enables us to contextualise compulsory sterilisation (which naturalises the sexually dimorphic, cisgender, heterosexual body) as a form of “gendercide” which has historically been instrumental in the imposition of a Euro-colonial binary gender system (Miranda, 2010; Lugones, 2007). The state-imposition of medical interventions on trans people not only has deleterious effects on their reproductive rights, “effectively undermin[ing] their right to found a family” (Hammarberg, 2009: 21; see OHCHR et al., 2014)—as “family” is hegemonically defined by a heteronormative and bio/ logical kinship order (Butler, 2002; van Anders, 2014). I argue that state regulation of transgender reproduction constitutes a form of institutionalised gendered violence inasmuch as it impedes transgender people’s ability to exercise inherent first-person authority over the materiality and meanings of their gendered embodiments (Bettcher, 2009; Spade, 2013). Efforts to renaturalise gender and kinship inextricably intersect (Kantsa, 2006) in the biopolitical attempt to regulate transgender embodiments and reproduction, which conditions the emerging legal recognition of transgender subjects as a rights-bearing minority (Stryker, 2014). (shrink)
In July 2016, we participated in a conference in Lesvos (Greece) on borders, migration, and the refugee crisis. The Crossing Borders conference was framed in contrast with the ad-hoc humanitarianism that was being implemented, to the extent that it seemed to offer an opportunity to think about the refugee crisis, militarism, and austerity capitalism in systemic terms. This paper is based on an intervention we staged in the closing panel of the Crossing Borders conference, where we read a statement we (...) collectively wrote with fourteen other participants. The intervention was the outcome of frustration as we saw stereotypes and dynamics of knowledge production that reproduced the division between "us" and "them," further marginalising migrants and refugees, elevating international experts while silencing locally affected people. We use this incident and the text of this intervention as a starting point to analyse the growing academic industry in relation to what has been constructed as "Europe's refugee crisis." Our intervention sought to contest several kinds of borders—linguistic, epistemic, activist, methodological, political, historical, and internalised— which are uncritically reproduced in this academic industry. (shrink)
In the summer and autumn of 2015, I met with activists in Athens and Thessaloniki, with the aim of collaboratively producing a conceptual mapping of LGBTQ social movement discourses. My point of entry was the use and signification of “racism” in LGBTQ discourses (and more generally in common parlance in Greek) as a superordinate or “umbrella” concept that includes “homophobic” and “transphobic” but also “misogynist,” “ageist,” “ableist,” and class- or status-based prejudice, discrimination, and oppression, in addition to that, of course, (...) based on “race” or “ethnicity.” As a political theorist whose work over the past decade has focused on the concept of intersectionality, its origins in US Black feminist thought, and its transnational travel beyond the Anglo-American context in which it originated, I wanted to examine how this use of “racism” relates to the concept of “intersectionality” which is now emergent in the Greek social movement context, in particular in LGBTQ and feminist discourses, yet which has not been engaged by academics, neither in the nascent and struggling field of gender studies, nor in legal theory. How do LGBTQ activists define the referential scope and semantic contents of these concepts, based on what knowledges grounded in lived experiences, and on what kinds of social movement strategies? How do these concepts and their theoretical underpinnings reflect or direct activists’ political resistance to the widespread violence that they identify within and on the borders of Greek society? Do they enable coalition-building with other minoritised groups targeted by institutional and interpersonal “racism”? In approaching these questions, I wanted to trace the ways in which my interlocutors produce theories, through which social conditions of racial and heteropatriarchal power are made visible, are explained, and are contested—conditions that they identify with the institutions—“nation, religion, and family”—that make up what they termed the “triptych” or the “syntax of power.” What emerged in my conversations with activists were vivid accounts of the atmospheric violence facing LGBTQ people in Greece, its institutional and interpersonal manifestations, both banal and extreme. Indeed, many activists defined violence as the quintessence of oppression as such, and as what links various systems or forms of oppression—or, “racisms”—to one another. In what follows, I draw on these conversations not to answer the questions with which I set out, but, primarily, those that my interlocutors generated, which concern, ultimately, the unlivability of queer and trans lives—the violence LGBTQ people face and resist, particularly at the intersections of youth, poverty, disability, rurality, racialisation, criminalisation, and patriarchy. (shrink)
My point of departure is Said’s rejection of the idea of an “Orientalist” Hellenism. What might it mean to argue that Orientalism characterizes “intra-European” cultural politics, specifically the colonial geography of western Europe vis-à-vis its “subaltern” Others? Contra Said, I argue that the function of Hellenism in constituting both the fantasy of Europe and western hegemony has an Orientalist structure. I explore the cultural underpinnings of Greece’s relation to “Europe” in Hellenistic discourses. Then, I suggest that the dominant discourse surrounding (...) the odious Greek debt has an Orientalist structure. Pairing a critique of Orientalism with a core-periphery analysis arguably enables a more nuanced understanding of the coloniality of power in today’s “age of austerity,” enabling a deconstruction of the racial logic underlying continental integration and revealing the violence inherent in the fantasy of European civilization. (shrink)
The concept of “interlocking systems of oppression”—a precursor to “intersectionality”— was introduced in a social movement context by the Combahee River Collective (CRC) in pamphlet form in 1977. Addressing Black lesbians’ and feminists’ experiences of invisibility within white male-dominated New Left and socialist politics, male-dominated civil rights, Black nationalist, and Black radical organizing, and white-dominated women’s liberation and lesbian feminist movements, the CRC argues for an “integrated analysis and practice” of struggle against “racial, sexual, heterosexual and class oppression” (CRC 1977/1981/1983, (...) 210). I argue the CRC articulates and problematizes sexuality as a category of analysis from a “queer” subject position which avows racialized lesbian visibility and resists the tendency to “heterosexualize” women of color feminisms. I delineate three aspects of the concept of “interlocking systems of oppression”: its attentiveness to the phenomenological simultaneity of multiple oppressions; its synthesis of identity politics and coalition politics; its immanent critique of socialist concepts of class and class struggle. While some accounts of “intersectionality”—the now-predominant way of referencing the multiplicity of identities and oppressions—tend to reproduce a race-gender dyad (or a race-gender-class triad), the CRC notably articulates sexuality as a category of analysis from a “queer” subject position which avows lesbian visibility and thereby enables contemporary readers to resist the tendency to “heterosexualise” intersectionality—and women of colour feminisms more generally. (shrink)
This encyclopedia entry focuses primarily on Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s theoretical contributions, but also discusses how through her activism, intersectionality – as a framework or an analytic sensibility for making visible the sociolegal invisibility of women of color (and multiply oppressed social groups more generally) – has become praxis, revealing how Black women and other women of color fall “through the cracks” of mutually exclusive anti-racist and feminist discourses or, rather, are pushed into the chasm produced by their respective uninterrogated sexisms (...) and racisms. The brutal paradox that Crenshaw’s oeuvre reveals is that those who are violently located in the basements of social hierarchies, where others make their ascents on their backs, are also those whom emancipatory discourses consistently fail, rendering them marginal in their representations and mobilizations while relying on their creative energies, redirecting them from serving their own immediate interests to advancing those of others with which their experiences only partly coincide. Yet, this representational and epistemic violence undermines transformative movements from within, since it is only by addressing all systems of oppression simultaneously, and by disarticulating their interconnections, that they can ever be dismantled. (shrink)
All migration politics are reproductive politics. The nation-state project of controlling migration secures the racialised demographics of the nation, understood as a reproducible fact of the social and human body, determining who is differentially included, who is excluded, and who is exalted. In this commentary, we put forward a provocation about methodological heteronormativity and its omnipresence in the discourse surrounding the so-called “refugee crisis.” By methodological heteronormativity, we refer to the ways states, supranational organisations, hegemonic ideologies, but also solidarity movements (...) and critical scholars construct the figure of the (un)deserving “refugee.”. (shrink)
Since the declaration of financial crisis in 2008, and the imposition of austerity measures in 2011, Greece has become an epicentre—or a “laboratory”—of multiple, successively declared crises, including the humanitarian crisis induced by the devastating effects of neoliberal structural adjustment policies. In this paper, I approach the explosion of crisis discourse as a medium for ideological negotiations of nation-state borders in relation to a continental project of securitisation. I suggest that ‘crisis’ functions as a lexicon through which sovereignty can be (...) reasserted in relation to supranational institutional interference in ostensibly democratic governance. Specifically, I examine how the refugee crisis and the debt crisis converge in nationalised space in Greece; that is, how in state discourse, ‘crises’ serve as a conduit through which the borders of an embattled nation are redrawn and hardened against threats from a political space conceptualised as ‘outside’ the nation. My point of entry is the declaration of the Greek government by the end of the summer of 2015, that it was “experiencing a crisis within a crisis,” dually victimised by migration ‘flows’ and failed European solidarity in a context of ongoing austerity measures required by its institutional lenders. The figure of ‘a crisis within a crisis’ functioned to delineate the boundaries of national space and time and to distinguish the normative victims of what are seen as distinct, if overlapping political phenomena (debt and migration), from those who parasitically share in, or indeed by their very illicit presence cause or contribute to the suffering of the national subject. If the global economic crisis had already been made ‘ours’ by being constructed as a problem inherent in the national economy, the global war on migration became reinvented as 'Europe’s crisis,’ and then ‘Greece’s.’ The nationalisation of ‘crisis’ then, has a triple function: first, to conceal the systemic and structural underpinnings of violent processes of dispossession and displacement; second, to authorise the imposition of regimes of management and securitisation; and third, to reify borders that simultaneously fortify the agencies of state sovereignties while containing those of embodied human beings. The figure of ‘nesting crises’—‘a crisis within a crisis’—emerges through gestures of ownership or territorialisation of crisis: that is, in the conditions under which, affectively and politically a ‘crisis’ becomes ‘ours’ rather than ‘theirs’ and, indeed, constitutes the ‘we’ and the ‘they.’ ‘Nesting crises’ discourse can be read as a vocabulary through which national sovereignty is reasserted and national unity reconstituted. (shrink)
Penelope Deutscher’s book, "Foucault’s Futures: A Critique of Reproductive Reason" engages with the recent interest in reproduction, futurity, failure, and negativity in queer theory, but also the historical and ongoing investments in the concept of reproduction in feminist theory as well as (US) social movements. "Foucault’s Futures" troubles the forms of subjectivation presupposed by “reproductive rights” from a feminist perspective, exploring the “contiguity” between reproductive reason and biopolitics—specifically the proximity of reproduction to death, risk, fatality, and threat: its thanatopolitical underbelly.
Since 2015, the ‘refugee crisis’ is possibly the most photographed humanitarian crisis in history. Photographs taken, for instance, in Lesvos, Greece, and Bodrum, Turkey, were instrumental in generating waves of public support for, and populist opposition to “welcoming refugees” in Europe. But photographs do not circulate in a vacuum; this book explores the visual economy of the ‘refugee crisis,’ showing how the reproduction of images is structured by, and secures hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and ‘race,’ essential to the functioning of (...) bordered nation-states. Taking photography not only as the object of research, but innovating the method of photographìa— the material trace of writing/grafì with light/phos—this book urges us to view images and their reproduction critically. Part theoretical text, part visual essay, "Reproducing Refugees" vividly shows how institutional violence underpins both the spectacularity and the banality of ‘crisis.’ This book goes about synthesising visual studies with queer, feminist, postcolonial, post-structuralist, and post-Marxist theories. "Reproducing Refugees: Photographìa of a Crisis" offers theoretical frameworks and methodological tools to critically analyse representations, both those circulated through hegemonic institutions, and those generated from ‘below’. It carves a space between logos and praxis, ways of knowing and ways of doing, by offering a new visual language that problematises reified categories such as that of the ‘refugee’ and makes possible disruptive, alternative, resistant perceptions. The book contributes to the fields of migration and border studies, critically engaging visual narratives drawn from migration movements to question dominant categories and frameworks, from a decolonial, no-borders, queer feminist perspective. (shrink)
"Our grandparents, refugees; Our parents, immigrants; We, racists?" The slogan that prefaces the paper provides the theoretical caveat for the tensions, limitations, and contradictions of academic discourses in conjuring the daily realities of the era of the 'refugee crisis' in Greece. This paper has the form of a dialogue between a visual sociologist (Myrto) and a political theorist (Anna) who investigate different forms of the ways the 'refugee crisis' is changing the socio-political landscapes in Greece. The multiple aspects of our (...) identities provide valuable tools with which we unpack the multiple and contradictory narratives of researching, learning, and disseminating in the current milieu. In particular, we are interested in the ways we shape knowledge and the tension between the episte-mological and the ontological ways of knowing. In other words, by moving from theory to praxis and back, we are attempting to reconcile the problem of knowing and the problem of being part of a specific crisis milieu. For example, how can we use crisis as a research methodology? What can we learn from the ongoing 'refugee crisis' in relation to issues of citizenship, belonging, and the future of the European project? Furthermore, the paper attempts to transcend discursive borders between social sciences and the humanities by analysing the deeply performative, situated and embodied practices of doing research in moments of crisis. For example, how to navigate multiple, and at times contradictory, aspects of one's identity without returning to outmoded discourses of positivism and objectivity? (shrink)
The essays in Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy all trace different aspects of the mutually supporting histories of philosophical thought and colonial politics in order to suggest ways that we might decolonize our thinking. From psychology to education, to economic and legal structures, the contributors interrogate the interrelation of colonization and philosophy in order to articulate a Fanon-inspired vision of social justice. This project is endorsed by his daughter, Mireille Fanon-Mendès France, in the book's preface.
In this paper, we examine how bordered reality is being imposed and resisted in the context of where we are placed right now, 'Greece'. Drawing on ethnographic research and discourse analysis, conducted in Lesvos, Samos, and Athens (from March to September 2016), we examine how resistance to a bordered reality took place, as islands in the north Aegean, as well as Greek and European territories, were being remapped according to the logic of the hotspot. We approach this process methodologically from (...) the situated angle of the embodiment of resistance in the concrete experiences of people (including the researchers ourselves), whose narratives reveal the distracted spatial coordinates of the 'hotspot regime', which becomes a traveling control device. Rather than approaching the hotspots on the five Greek border islands as geographically fixed entities we introduce the concept of the mobile hotspot to show how the logic of the hotspot suffuses the uneven geographies of a bordered reality. We use the ferry as an illustrative tool with which to critically explore the density, tensions, and conflict-ridden nature of movements within, around, and against the hotspots. (shrink)
This chapter examines María Lugones’s germane and insightful attempt to theorize “intermeshed oppressions,” which, she argues, have been (mis)represented in women of color feminisms by the concepts of “interlocking systems of oppression” and, more recently, “intersectionality.” The latter, intersectionality, introduced by Black feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw as a metaphor (1989) and as a “provisional concept” (1991), has become the predominant way of referencing the mutual constitution of what have been theorized as multiple systems of oppression, constructing the multiplicity (...) of social identities. But Lugones’s analysis, which maintains subtle but important distinctions among the concepts of “intermeshed,” “interlocking,” and “intersecting” oppressions, shows that intersectionality theory often conflates fragmentation with multiplicity, and—by reifying “intersectional identities”—reproduces social-ontological fragmentation at the political and perceptual-cognitive levels of representation. Intersectional accounts redeploy unitary categories (for instance, race, gender, class, sexuality, disability) that are defined to the exclusion of each other by privileging the identities of normative group members. Consequently, they remain within what Lugones calls the “logic of purity,” which erases “curdled,” impure, category-transgressive, border-dwelling, mestiza subjects. Although, according to Lugones, intersectionality enables us to discern how the logic of purity produces “women of color” as impossible beings, she argues that the liminal identities of subjects dwelling in categorial interstices can only be made visible by conceptualizing oppressions as fused or “intermeshed.” However, as I interpret her, Lugones is not merely criticizing intersectionality or seeking to transcend its conceptual limitations by proposing an alternate concept. Rather, the concepts of “intermeshed,” “interlocking,” and “intersecting” oppressions do significantly different work in her account and illuminate different aspects of the social ontology, phenomenology, and epistemology of resistance to oppression. First, I situate Lugones with respect to the current conjuncture in intersectionality studies, in which some scholars are calling for a post-intersectional turn. Then, I reconstruct Lugones’s complex account of intermeshed oppressions, interlocking oppressions, and intersectionality. Finally, I discuss the status of intersectionality in the shift in Lugones’s work from “women of color feminisms” to “decolonial feminism.” Intersectionality is now routinely invoked as a representational theory of multiple identities, but Lugones’s heterodox interpretation helps us to see that it is best understood as a critique of representations based on the logic of purity: specifically, of how categorial axes of oppression (mis)represent intermeshed oppressions. Lugones’s triadic distinction (intersecting/interlocking/intermeshed) points toward a provisional usage of intersectionality, namely, to diagnose the fragmentation of social experiences of multiplicity (which, I would argue, is more consistent with the concept’s original aims). In her visionary philosophy, which attempts to theorize resistance against the grain of fragmentation from a conceptual space outside of the “logic of purity,” we find “glimpses” of a non-fragmented account of oppression, and praxical possibilities for liberatory, decolonial feminist coalitions. (shrink)
This paper seeks to make “racism” strange, by exploring its invocation in the sociolinguistic context of LGBTQI+ activism in Greece, where it is used in ways that may be jarring to anglophone readers. In my ongoing research on the conceptualisation of interwoven oppressions in Greek social movement contexts, I have been interested in understanding how the widespread use of the term “racism” as a superordinate category to reference forms of oppression not only based on “race,” “ethnicity,” and “citizenship” (e.g., racism, (...) nationalism, xenophobia) but also those based on gender, gender identity, and sexuality (e.g., sexism, transphobia, and homophobia) relates to the increased adoption of “intersectionality” in movement discourses. In ordinary parlance, this commonplace usage of “racism” as an “umbrella term” nevertheless retains its etymological link to “race,” while its scope is extended to other regimes of superiority/inferiority or privilege/oppression. If intersectionality presupposes that oppressions are ontologically multiple and analytically separable, the use of “racism” as an umbrella concept seems to point in the other direction, implying that all forms of oppression originate from a common source, have a similar ontological basis, or generate privilege for the same social agents, who deploy similar tactics vis-à-vis oppressed groups. My research examines how intersectionality—widely understood as a multi-axial theory of oppression, which contends that power relations are multiple, distinct, and irreducible to one another, yet converge simultaneously in the experiences of multiply oppressed social groups—relates to the use of “racism” as a struggle concept in Greek, but also in other languages commonly used in Greece, such as Albanian (racizmi) and Arabic (eunsuria). In this paper, I examine how these two vocabularies—of racism and intersectionality—are operative in movement discourses, but also how they shape, and are shaped by activists’ perceptions, analyses, and theories of oppression. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the review: "In 1995, Leonard Harris published an article for which he received death threats, exposing the white supremacist underpinnings of institutionalized philosophy in the United States: “There are those [...] who doubt that the Ku Klux Klan created American Philosophy [...] However, even without [that] belief [...] there are reasons to think that American Philosophy is compatible with the wishes of the Klan” (Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (...) 68(5): 1995, 135). If more tempered in tone, "Reframing the Practice of Philosophy" testifies to the abiding white dominance and white solipsism of the discipline. In the latest of “the indefatigable George Yancy’s collections,” contributors make effective use of autobiography to “articulat[e] the lived interiority” of experiences of exclusion, marginalization, and tokenism reflected in statistics which reveal the “paucity of African Americans and Latinos/as in the field of philosophy in the United States”--which remains a “predominantly white and male field” (45, 4, 1, 2). Fifteen years ago, 1% of U.S. philosophers were black; still today only 1% are. Less than 30 are Black women, “doubly disadvantaged in the profession by the intersection of race and gender” (49). Only 3.8% of graduate students in philosophy are [email protected], and only “half a dozen” are “established professional philosophers” (169). As Grant Silva writes in his review published in the "APA Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy", “more honest conversations like [those staged in "Reframing the Practice of Philosophy] must take place in order for our field to reinvent itself along more equitable lines, assuming that this is indeed a collective goal” (2012, 8). The unbearable whiteness of academic philosophy, means, as Charles Mills puts it, that transforming the discipline is “going to be a long haul” (65)... (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the friction between xenophobic discourses on migration and the crisis caused by the politics of austerity in Greece. On the one hand, an ‘excessive’ influx of migration is managed through violent means by the state and the para-state; on the other, a ‘scarcity’ of domestic resources is blamed for a ‘rise’ in racist attitudes, and the political ascent of a fascist movement-cum-parliamentary party, Χρυσή Αυγή (Golden Dawn). ‘Crisis’ is said to give rise to ‘austerity’—and hostility. (...) Inverting the inverted causal relationship between crisis, austerity and hostility, I problematise representations of hostility toward migrants which construct racism as a consequence of economic conditions or even as the antidote to the ‘bitter pill’ Greeks have been forced to swallow. I examine how racialised and gendered violence secures the politics of austerity in Greece. Specifically, through an examination of three eruptions of violence (the feminicidal acid attack on Konstantina Kouneva, the murder of Shehzad Luqman, and the drowning of eleven refugees near the island of Farmakonisi), I make concrete connections between the politics of austerity and what, drawing on Sara Ahmed, might be termed an ‘affective economy of hostility’ that articulates racialised and gendered modes of belonging and estrangement. Some bodies are rendered vulnerable and precarious, while others assert an entitled relation to national space while being economically disentitled by austerity measures. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the review: "Fortunes of Feminism" is a collection of essays authored by Nancy Fraser between 1985 and 2010 and prefaced by a narrative about the rise, decline, and potential resurgence of “second-wave socialist feminism.” Divided into three corresponding parts (“Feminism Insurgent,” “Feminism Tamed,” and “Feminism Resurgent?”) it contains some of Fraser’s best known essays, which, although admittedly “not written with [the] aim” of tracing historical shifts in recent feminist movements, have nevertheless (...) been “organized” into a volume which claims to do just that... (shrink)