Skip to main content

What Does Queer Theory Teach Us about Intersectionality?

  • Kevin Duong (a1)

“What does queer theory teach us about x?” ask Berlant and Warner (1995). “As difficult as it would be to spell out programmatic content for an answer, this simple question still has the power to wrench frames” (p. 348). This challenge comes from an early essay published to circumvent queer theory's appropriation. Its power “to wrench frames” is what I am posing to intersectional research, not only to reflect on what intersectionality has allowed feminists to accomplish but also to identify some existing shortcomings in the scope and domain of its employment. Because there is little disputing intersectionality's theoretical contribution to feminist research in the past decades—one scholar calls it “the most important theoretical contribution that women's studies . . . has made so far” (McCall 2005, 1771)—it is important for us to take stock of the sorts of political problems that intersectional scholarship has addressed and the ones to which it has often been inattentive.

Hide All
Adams, Parveen, and Cowie, Elizabeth, eds. 1990. The Woman in Question. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ahmed, Sarah. 2006. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Berlant, Lauren. 1991. The Anatomy of National Fantasy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Berlant, Lauren. 1997. The Queen of America Goes to Washington: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Berlant, Lauren. 2002. “The Subject of True Feeling: Pain, Privacy, and Politics.” In Left Legalism/Left Critique, ed. Brown, Wendy, and Halley, Janet. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 105–33.
Berlant, Lauren, and Warner, Michael. 1995. “What Can Queer Theory Teach Us about X?PMLA 110: 343–49.
Berlant, Lauren, and Warner, Michael. 1998. “Sex in Public.” Critical Inquiry 24 (2): 547–66.
Bersani, Leo. 1987. “Is the Rectum a Grave?October 43: 197222.
Brown, Wendy. 1995. States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Butler, Judith. 1997. The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Butler, Judith. 1998. “Merely Cultural.” New Left Review I (227): 3344.
Butler, Judith. 2004. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge.
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Chambers, Samuel. 2007. “‘An Incalculable Effect’: Subversions of Heteronormativity.” Political Studies 55 (3): 656–79.
Chambers, Samuel. 2009. The Queer Politics of Television. New York: I. B. Tauris.
Chambers, Samuel, and O'Rourke, Michael. 2009. “Jacques Ranciére on the Shores of Queer Theory.” Borderlands 8 (2): 119.
Chauncey, George. 1994. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay World, 18901940. New York: Basic Books.
Chodorow, Nancy. 1978. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Cohen, Cathy. 1997. “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3 (4): 437–65.
Cohen, Cathy. 2010. Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Copjec, Joan. 1990. “m/f, or Not Reconciled.” In The Woman in Question, ed. Adams, Parveen and Cowie, Elizabeth. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1018.
Copjec, Joan. 1994. Reading My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1989. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43 (6): 1241–79.
Dietz, Mary. 2002. Turning Operations: Feminism, Arendt, Politics. New York: Routledge.
Eco, Umberto. 1979. A Theory of Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Eng, David. 2010. Feeling Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy.Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Enloe, Cynthia. 2004. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 2000. Sexing the Body. New York: Basic Books.
Ferree, Myra Marx. 2009. “Feminist Practice Meets Feminist Theory.” Sociological Theory 27 (1): 7580.
Ford, Richard Thompson. 2007. “What's Queer about Race?South Atlantic Quarterly 106 (3): 477–84.
Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1: An Introduction. New York: Random House.
Frank, Jason. 2010. Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Postrevolutionary America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Fraser, Nancy. 1998. “Heterosexism, Misrecognition, and Capitalism: A Response to Judith Butler.” New Left Review I (228): 140–49.
Gandhi, Leela. 2006. Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin-de-Siecle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Glaeser, Andreas. 2009. “The Institutional Foundations of Free Action.” Sociological Theory 27 (1): 8184.
Halberstam, Judith. 1998. Female Masculinities. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Halperin, David. 1990. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And Other Essays on Greek Love. New York: Routledge.
Halperin, David. 2003. “The Normalization of Queer Theory.” In Queer Theory and Communication: From Disciplining Queers to Queering the Discipline(s), ed. Yep, Gust A.Lovaas, E., and Elia, John P.. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park, 339–43.
Hanchard, Michael. 1998. “Jody.” Critical Inquiry 24 (2): 473–97.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2007. “Intersectionality as a Normative and Empirical Research Paradigm.” Politics & Gender 3 (2): 248–54.
Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. 1993. Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
hooks, bell. 1981. Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Boston: South End.
Kalyvas, Andreas. 2005. “Popular Sovereignty, Democracy, and Constituent Power.” Constellations 12 (2): 223–44.
Lacquer, Thomas. 1992. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Lucal, Betsy. 1999. “What It Means to Be Gendered Me: Life on the Boundaries of a Dichotomous Gender System.” Gender & Society 13 (6): 781–97.
Luft, Rachel E. 2009. “Intersectionality and the Risk of Flattening Difference: Gender and Race Logics, and the Strategic Use of Antiracist Singularity.” In The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy Through Race, Class, & Gender, ed. Berger, Michelle Tracy, and Kathleen, Guidroz.Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 100–17.
Massumi, Brian. 1995. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique 31: 83109.
McCall, Leslie. 2005. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 (3): 17711800.
McClintock, Anne. 1995. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York: Routledge.
McWhorter, Ladelle. 2009. Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America: A Genealogy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Mohanty, Chandra. 1984. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” boundary 2 12 (3): 333–58.
Narayan, Uma. 1997. Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions, and Third World Feminism. New York: Routledge.
Patten, Alan. 2011. “Rethinking Culture: The Social Lineage Account.” American Political Science Review 105 (4): 735–49.
Puar, Jasbir. 2007. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Risman, Barbara J. 2004. “Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism.” Gender & Society 18 (4): 429–50.
Rothschild, Cynthia. 2005. “Written Out: How Sexuality Is Used to Attack Women's Organizing.” New York: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the Center forWomen's Global Leadership.
Rubin, Gayle. 1975. “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” In Toward an Anthropology of Women, ed. Reiter, Reyna R.New York: Monthly Review Press, 157210.
Salamon, Gayle. 2006. “Boys of the Lex: Transgenderism and Rhetorics of Materiality.” GLQ 12 (4): 575–97.
Salamon, Gayle. 2010. Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality. New York: Columbia University Press.
Smith, Anna Marie. 2007. Welfare Reform and Sexual Regulation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1988. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary, Nelson, and Lawrence, Grossberg.Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1993. “The Burden of English.” In Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, ed. Breckenridge, Carol and van der Veer, Peter. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Steinmetz, George. 2009. “The New Aesthetic-Political Avant-Garde: Linda Zerilli's Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom.” Sociological Theory 27 (1): 8588.
Stockton, Katherine Bond. 2006. Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where “Black” Meets “Queer.” Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Warner, Michael. 1999. “Normal and Normaller: Beyond Gay Marriage.” GLQ 5 (2): 119–71.
Warner, Michael. 2002. Publics and Counterpublics. New York: Zone Books.
Watney, Simon. 1987. Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS, and the Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Wilder, Gary. 2009. “Untimely Vision: Aimé Césaire, Decolonization, Utopia.” Public Culture 21 (1):101–40.
Zerilli, Linda. 1998. “Doing without Knowing: Feminism's Politics of the Ordinary.” Political Theory 24 (4): 435–58.
Zerilli, Linda. 2005. Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed