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Interrogating Intersectionality

By Emily Duchenne - Geography Student @ Brasenose College, Oxford


Intersectionality theory - how gender, race, sexuality and class amongst other identifying factors mutually constitute identity and shape how one acts - emerged through legal scholarship as a way of understanding social inequalities in the 1990s. Kimberle Crenshaw, an American lawyer, first conceptualised this theory as a way to highlight how to be Black and female in the eyes of the law were not compatible, as one could sue for workplace sexism, or for workplace racism, but not both. In this article, I will explore two conflicting theories surrounding identity politics and interectional theory: whether gender, race, sexuality and class interact simultaneously in multidimensional ways to influence lived experience; or if a focus on a single minority identity is needed to understand social oppression.