For an ‘intersectional sensibility’ in feminist geography methodologies

Authors: Karen Falconer Al-Hindi*, University of Nebraska Omaha, LaToya Eaves, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Gender, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Intersectionality, feminist, Black geographies, Qualitative methods
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 42
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this paper we argue for an ‘intersectional sensibility’ that is keenly conscious of the concept’s origins; that foregrounds the complexity of diverse lives lived under structural oppression; that applies intersectionality deliberately to research conceptualization, design, and methods; and that is thought-full and care-full throughout. The paper opens with an introduction to the intellectual lineage of intersectionality. Intersectionality is ‘best thought of as an analytical sensibility;’ it is the product of more than a century’s thinking by women of color under U.S. empire and particularly by African-American women about their embodied experiences (Cho, Crenshaw and McCall 2013: 795). Feminist scholars entered this scene of sense-making and praxis relatively recently, and feminist geographers even more recently. We center Black/intersectional feminism (positioning variants, such as White feminism, on the periphery), and argue that on the basis of intersectionality only the former can anchor a truly feminist geography. The paper weaves its consideration of methodologies through: the inclusion of feminist/racialized/queer work; the need to honor intersectionality’s intellectual and material roots; eschewing intersectionality when focusing exclusively on identities; and embracing the complexities of lives and spaces that intersectional analyses open up. As an always already geographical concept (Mollett and Faria 2018), an ‘intersectional sensibility’ in feminist geography offers a way through recent controversies and questions surrounding intersectionality’s deployment.

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