Using Intersectionality in Biographical Research
RC05 Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnicity
Joint session RC38 (Biography & Society) and RC05 (Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations)
Intersectionality as theory has provided a sophisticated and dynamic way to conceptualize how socially constructed differences and structures of power based on gender, ethnicity, class, national belonging, sexuality and more work at the level of individual experiences, social practices, institutional arrangements, symbolic representations and cultural imaginaries. It has been embraced as one of the most important contributions to critical studies in the field of gender studies, critical race studies, and postcolonial scholarship. Despite its popularity, there has been less attention paid to how the insights of intersectionality as theory can be applied to empirical research on identities and experiences of exclusion, subordination, and marginalization. Biographical research is ideally suited for an intersectional approach because it allows the researcher to explore how axes of difference and power are discursively negotiated by differently located individuals as they talk about their experiences, their life histories, and their identities.
This session invites scholars who have used intersectionality in their research to reflect on the the advantages, but also the problems and pitfalls of an intersectional lens for analyzing and understanding how power and difference work in people’s everyday lives. The goal of the session is not to evaluate intersectionality as a theory, but rather to explore the ways it can (or cannot) be used as a method in biographical research.
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