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22 Pages

Framing Intersectionality: An Introduction

ByHelma Lutz, Maria Teresa Herrera Vivar, Linda Supik

The debate about intersectionality is currently in full swing in Europe (see Grabham et al. 2008, Winker and Degele 2009, Lykke 2010, Schiek and Lawson 2010, Taylor et al. 2010). Our conference entitled ‘Celebrating Intersectionality? Debates on a Multi-Faceted Concept in Gender Studies’, which took place on 22-23 January 2009 at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, was based on the opinion that the concept’s 20th anniversary should be celebrated in attendance of its ‘mother’ Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, who followed our invitation, along with other important feminist scholars from Europe and the US. At the same time, it seemed appropriate to discuss and challenge intersectionality’s maturity after 20 years – therefore the title carries a question mark. Evidently, the conference came at just the right time. It was very well attended, with 300 participants of whom a third came from abroad (some of them from outside Europe). This volume is the result of the debates conducted at the conference. It attempts to take up both the agreements and the controversies that emerged, and in addition to taking stock of the debates it indicates future lines of investigation that could be followed. We therefore begin by looking back at the early stages of the debate about intersectionality, with the intention of making visible research from those early days that is usually neglected in the current debate (foundational narratives); we then present the range of different (European) locations and disciplinary fields in which intersectionality appears (the state of the debates); third, we discuss some ideas about future developments and possible trajectories of feminist intersectionality research (from women’s and gender studies to feminist intersectionality studies). Our fourth section deals with one example that seems particularly challenging for the feminist research agenda in Europe, the debate about ‘race’ and racism (let’s talk about ‘race’). Our introduction ends with brief summaries of the contributions to this volume.