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INTERSECTIONALITY UNDONE: Saving Intersectionality from Feminist Intersectionality Studies1

  • Sirma Bilge (a1)

This article identifies a set of power relations within contemporary feminist academic debates on intersectionality that work to “depoliticizing intersectionality,” neutralizing the critical potential of intersectionality for social justice-oriented change. At a time when intersectionality has received unprecedented international acclaim within feminist academic circles, a specifically disciplinary academic feminism in tune with the neoliberal knowledge economy engages in argumentative practices that reframe and undermine it. This article analyzes several specific trends in debate that neutralize the political potential of intersectionality, such as confining intersectionality to an academic exercise of metatheoretical contemplation, as well as “whitening intersectionality” through claims that intersectionality is “the brainchild of feminism” and requires a reformulated “broader genealogy of intersectionality.”

Corresponding author
Sirma Bilge, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-ville, H3C 3J7 Montreal (Qc)Canada. E-mail:
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I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful and insightful comments. My thanks also go to the editors of this special issue, with a special mention to Barbara Tomlinson. Finally I thank several colleagues and friends for the generous feedback I received at various conferences (Paris 2011, Lancaster 2012, Lausanne 2012) where I presented earlier versions of this article: Fatima Aït ben Lmadani, Philippe Allard, Paola Bacchetta, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Anne-Marie Fortier, Patricia Hill Collins, Nasima Moujoud, Jennifer Petzen, and Julianne Pidduck.

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Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
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