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Feminism Unbound: Navigating Intersectionality Across Global Frontiers

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Feminism Unbound: Navigating Intersectionality Across Global Frontiers

Session Report
Trisha Shivdasan

The Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute,
New Delhi conducted a Three-Day Immersive Online Certificate Training
Course on ‘Feminism: Fundamentals, Facets and Future’ from February 23rd to
25th, 2023

The course, spread over three-consecutive days, introduced the participants to the origins
and trajectory of feminism, its contemporary and European aspects, intersectional feminism,
feminist theory in India, and the intersection of law and feminism. It initiated a dialogue on
the fundamentals and core values of feminist theory and encouraged a feminist
consciousness within the participants.

On the third day our second speaker, Prof Linda Lane, Senior Lecturer, Department of
Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Sweden,
begins her session by emphasizing her
specific context as a Black American feminist living in Sweden. She positions herself as a
researcher focusing primarily on women in a Western context. Lane encourages the audience
to critically consider her credentials and how they relate to the discourse, especially when
discussing feminism and intersectionality in the Indian context.

Historical Framing of Feminism:

Lane briefly reviews the evolution of feminism, highlighting the progress made through
different waves. She emphasizes the contributions of previous lectures in shaping our
understanding of feminism today.

Challenges in Feminist Thought:

The discussion shifts to the challenges associated with mainstream feminist thought. Lane
critiques the historical limitation of feminist theory, primarily constructed from the
perspective of white, upper-middle-class, heterosexual, college-educated married mothers.
She underscores the importance of acknowledging privilege and the ongoing struggle for
inclusivity within feminism.

Introduction to Intersectionality

Lane introduces and defines intersectionality, drawing from her personal context. She
situates intersectionality within a historical perspective, tracing its roots to early feminist
movements and its crystallization in the late 1980s with Kimberly Crenshaw’s work.

Why Intersectionality Matters

The session explores the significance of intersectionality. Lane argues that it addresses gaps
in traditional feminist perspectives by bringing attention to the diverse experiences of
women based on race, class, and other intersecting identities. She underscores the need to
recognize and confront privilege, advocating for a more inclusive feminism.

Sojourner Truth and Early Intersectional Perspectives

Drawing on historical figures like Sojourner Truth, Lane illustrates early challenges to the
stereotypical view of women. Truth’s speech challenges the prevailing notions of womanhood
based on race and social status, setting the stage for intersectional perspectives.

Key Aspects of Intersectionality: Crenshaw’s Contribution

Lane delves into Kimberly Crenshaw’s three critical aspects of intersectionality: structural
intersectionality, political intersectionality, and representational intersectionality. These
concepts provide analytical tools to understand the experiences of marginalized groups,
emphasizing the need for more inclusive feminist movements.

Intersectionality in Practice

Lane discusses how intersectionality can be applied in various contexts, emphasizing its
potential to expose and address global issues such as immigration, unemployment, and
domestic violence. She stresses the importance of recognizing interconnected social
identities.

Patricia Hill Collins: Expanding Intersectionality

Lane introduces Patricia Hill Collins, who aims to expand intersectionality beyond
theoretical discussions. Collins raises questions about the universality of intersectionality, its
origins, and its relevance in different relationships and analyses.

Challenges and Critiques

The session acknowledges challenges and critiques faced by intersectionality, particularly its
perception as a threat to the status quo. Lane counters these critiques, asserting that the
opposition stems from a reluctance to accept the transformative consequences of an
intersectional perspective.

Global Application of Intersectionality

Lane explores the global application of intersectionality, highlighting its varied reception
across different regions. She discusses its use in the European Union, where race is less
emphasized, and its potential to facilitate transnational collaboration in social justice
movements.

Backlash, Neoliberalism, and Future Considerations

The session concludes by addressing the current backlash against intersectionality amid
global shifts in neoliberalism. Lane emphasizes the need to consider how intersectionality
can offer insights into the dynamics of global capitalism and shape the future of feminist
discourse.

Conclusion: Intersectionality’s Contributions and Ongoing Challenges

Dr. Linda Lane’s session provides a comprehensive overview of feminism, intersectionality,
and their relevance in diverse global contexts. It underscores the contributions of
intersectionality while acknowledging the challenges and critiques it faces, signaling a need
for continued dialogue and exploration within feminist scholarship.

Acknowledgment: Reet Lath is a research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

Unraveling Feminism’s Impact on Legal Systems and Structures

Syncretic Feminism: Exploring Gender Justice and Reproductive Rights

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IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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