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INTERSECTIONALITY – Different inequalities and overlapping identities. Ann-Dorte Christensen, Aalborg University 4. Sino-Nordic Gender and Women’s Studies Conference October 2011. Outline. 1. Basic principle in the concept of intersectionality 2. Intersectionality as a travelling concept

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intersectionality different inequalities and overlapping identities

INTERSECTIONALITY – Different inequalities and overlapping identities

Ann-Dorte Christensen,

Aalborg University

4. Sino-Nordic Gender and Women’s Studies Conference

October 2011

outline
Outline

1. Basic principle in the concept of intersectionality

2. Intersectionality as a travelling concept

3. Methodological challenges

a) Dynamic intersecting categories

b) Multilevel intersectional analyses

4. Summarizing: Examples on intersectional analysis in a Danish/Nordic context

1 basic principle
1. Basic principle….
  • From identity politics → Intersectional perspectives
  • From gender equality → Diversity perspectives

“It simply doesn’t make sense to look at gender equality in isolation from other kinds of equalities” (Judith Squires, UK)

basic principle intersectionality
Basic principle…Intersectionality
  • GENDER, CLASS, RACE, SEXUALITY and other categories based on differences, inequalitites and identities
  • Categories can be structures, discourses, and identities.
  • Categories construct, deconstruct and reconstruct each other
2 intersectionality as a travelling concept
2. Intersectionality as a travelling concept
  • Context matters
  • Discipline matters
travelling history
Travelling history
  • US: Black Feminism – Race/Gender

Dominating structures towards black women

(Kimberley Crenshew; Patricia Hill Collins).

- UK: Humanities and social science

Identities and discourses

(Ann Phoenix; Nira Yuval-Davis, Judith Squires)

  • Nordic countries:

Postcolonial and poststructuralist feminist researcher

(Diana Mulinari, Nina Lykke, Dorte Staunæs)

Feminist researchers within sociology and political science

(Birte Siim, Anette Borchorst, Sune Qvotrup Jensen, Lise Rolandsen Augustin, Stine Thidemann Faber)

travelling categories
Travelling categories

Categories are contextualised and have different meanings. (Gudrun-Axeli Knapp and Myra Marx Ferree)

  • Contextualising race
  • Contextualising class

Not only the concept of intersectionality but also the different categories have been travelling around and must be contextualised and analyzed in relation to the history of ideas as well as contemporary discourses and knowledge production.

3 methodological challenges and potentials
3. Methodological challenges and potentials

Baukje Prins – 2 approaches to intersectionality

The systemic approach:

  • the US approach - foregrounds the impact of system or structure upon the formation of identities.

The constructionist approach:

  • the UK approach – foregrounds the impact of dynamic and relational aspects of social identity (Prins, 2006)
main questions to intersectional analyses
Main questions to intersectional analyses
  • How to combine the systemic approach and the constructivist approach?
  • How to develop intersectional analyses which are able to able to grasp the intersections between inequalities at a structural level and the level of constructions of identities?
  • How to establish a double perspective and create an interaction between structure and actors?
two important challenges to intersectional analysis
Two important challenges to intersectional analysis

a) Dynamic intersecting categories

b) Multilevel intersectional analyses

a dynamic intersecting categories
a) Dynamic Intersecting Categories
  • Categories to come and relations to go?? (cf. A. Hornshied)
  • Myra Marx Ferree:
  • Interactive Intersectionality (combining structure and agency)
  • A Process-centered approach: more about racialization than race; more about gendering than gender; more about class relations than class
b multilevel intersectional analysis
b) Multilevel Intersectional Analysis

Nira Yuval-Davis

  • Social locations/positioning
  • Identities
  • Political values

“People who identify themselves as belonging to the same collectivity or social category can actually be positioned very differently in relation to a whole range of social locations (eg class, gender, ability, sexuality, age etc). And at the same time people with similar positionings and/or identities can have very different social and political values” (Yuval-Davis, 2005, p. 7).

Ann Phoenix – connection between microanalysis of everyday practice and the social positioning in national racialised gendered discourses.

slide13
The Aalborg Multilevel Model
  • to combine different levels of analysis

(Borchorst, Christensen, Jensen og Siim)

4 summarizing examples on intersectional analyses in a danish nordic context
4. Summarizing: Examples on Intersectional Analyses in a Danish/Nordic Context

1) Macro-level: Welfare State and institutionalised inequalities

2) Micro-level: Gender, Class and Ethnicity: Everyday Life in a a residential area in Aalborg

1 macro level welfare state and institutionalised inequalitities
1) Macro-level: Welfare State and institutionalised inequalitities
  • How gender, class and ethnicity have been institutionalised in the Danish Welfare State
  • Class inequalities (first part of the 20th. Century)
  • Gender inequalities from the 1970s
  • Last 10 years ethnicity and integration

Exclusionary discourse – strong marker of Danishness/Danish equality model.

(Borchorst and Siim)

slide17
2) Micro-level: Gender, Class and Ethnicity. Everyday Life in a a residential area in AalborgChristensen and Qvotrup Jensen
  • Everyday life as a melting pot. (M. Gullestad). Intersecting categories bound together by unbreakable ties.
  • Narratives – Combining the ’grand history’ and the ’small/personal life story”

Connell: ”Life histories give rich documentation of personal experience, ideology and subjectivity […] but life histories also, paradoxically, document social structures, social movements and institutions. That is to say, they give rich evidence about impersonal and collective processes as well as about subjectivity” (1995: 89).

jasmina
Jasmina,
  • 25 years, lived in Denmark for almost 20 years
  • Born in Somalia, lived with Grandmother when her mother and father were studying on European universities
  • Father and mother divorced
  • Mother fled to Denmark with Jasmina and 2 younger siblings
  • Family in Sweden, Canada & USA.
  • Speaks 5 languages and has visited many countries
  • Sends money back but wouldn’t like to move to Somalia
  • Feels at home in Denmark
  • Has finished high school and will study to become a teacher
ayaan
Ayaan
  • 43 years, lived in Denmark for 15 years
  • Refugee form the Somali civil war – severe permanent physical injurires.
  • Single mother with 10 children
  • Applied for residence in Copenhagen to be closer to her Swedish family – came to Northern Jutland.
  • Is feeling alone – trouble settling into the neighbourhood.
  • Has never chosen to live in Aalborg
  • Poor
minority women very different stories
Minority women: Very different stories
  • Class matters in terms of educational background and in terms of income
  • Class matters in terms of identity
  • One thing in common: Being placed and forced to live in a specific place which they cannot influence.
slide22
The narratives are framed by:
  • The Danish discourse and the excluding positions of immigrants as unwanted guests
  • The exclusionary discourses institutionalized in the Danish Welfare State

But at the same time:

  • Challenging dominant Danish discourses – who is modern and who is traditional??
  • Not only dominating structures – but also empowerment and agency.