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Race, Class, Gender as categories of difference and inequality: Which perspectives arise from the concept of ‘intersectionality’ for human and cultural sciences?

The recent paradigm of ‘intersectionality’ reissues struggles about ‘identity,’ ‘subjectivity,’ ‘experience’ and ‘agency,’ as well as the structures of social inequalities that pervade theoretical and methodological discussions in the sciences humaines et socials and beyond. The ‘intersectionality’ metaphor anticipates a multi-dimensional perspective. It aims at analysing, as capacious as possible, the positioning of subjects/persons and their courses of action in historical contexts, i.e. within a heterogeneous, but by no means arbitrary field of discourses, institutions and social practices. Due to their multi-perspectivity, intersectional approaches have to be seen as parts of a current shift of emphasis within cultural sciences and the humanities which is significantly related to ongoing reflections on processes of globalization and the “spatial turn”. This scientific orientation can be characterized by its attempt to explore multiple forms of crossings, blurrings, and transgressings of ‘borders’ and ‘spaces,’ as prevalent concepts like ‘transculturality’ and ‘transnationality’ demonstrate. In this sense, intersectionality studies share certain similarities with the “histoire croisée,” which was inititated as a heuristic device by Bénedicte Zimmerman and Michael Werner. According to the “histoire croisée,” no object in history exists as an isolated entity, or independent of interrelations with other phenomena. Thereby, we deal with a processual activity which constantly produces new interrelations between already interrelated objects. What needs to be distinguished in this heuristic perspective is, on the one hand, the interrelations of different perspectives that guide the views on the interrelated objects, and, on the other hand, the interrelations of analytic practices performed by researchers. While the “histoire croisée” focuses on diachronic ‘space-time’-structures, intersectional approaches seem to emphasize synchronous relations of social and geographical ‘locations.’ In this constellation, the organizers see the need for clarification especially in two regards. First, concerning the question of the historicity of “axes of inequality” (Klinger, Knapp) and, second, concerning the use of intersectionality as a methodology within the heterogeneous fields of transnational cultures of knowledge. Following up previous discussions, our conference gives young academics the opportunity to discuss analytical and methodological questions situated in the humanities, as well as in the historical and social sciences, that have emerged from their own research. While the main focus will be on historical analyses, social practices related to the production of knowledge and representation are considered as well. The presentations encompass both micro- and macro-levels of society.

Conception

Vera Kallenberg, Jennifer Meyer

Organization

Johanna M. Mueller, Jennifer Meyer, Vera Kallenberg

Contact

Johanna M. Mueller
(johannammueller@gmail.com)

Publication of the junior conference

Vera Kallenberg, Jennifer Meyer, Johanna M. Müller (dir.): Intersectionality und Kritik: Neue Perspektiven für alte Fragen (http://www.springer.com/springer+vs/soziologie/wissen+|+diskurs/book/978-3-531-17726-7). Wiesbaden, Springer VS, 2012 ISBN : 978-3-531-17726-7

Date

10/09/2009 - 12/09/2009

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