13 Pages

Visualizing intersectionality through a fractal metaphor

Recursive, non-linear, and changeable
ByJenna Abetz, Julia Moore

In this chapter, the authors explore the metaphors that have characterized intersectionality. They propose a fractal metaphor and delve into the nuances it can offer feminist theory, context, and praxis. Fractals provide a language and visualization that represents the both/and of similarity and difference, where the repetition or recursive construction of patterned privilege/marginalization creates a unique image of repeated, intersectional experiences. The mathematical fractals are of use for modeling and visualizing intersectionality as fractal but are limited because intersectionality as lived experience is never infinite and always becoming within a particular social and historical context. The intersectionality is best described as a "real" fractal, not a mathematical fractal, and small changes in the operation of privilege/oppression can result in shifts across scales. Fractals can theoretically take infinite shapes, since the rule repeatedly applied is simple; yet, at the same time, results in complex, non-linear shapes through its repetition.