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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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← x | xi → Foreword



Intersectionality as a framework for analyzing and understanding higher education has attracted scholars, researchers, and practitioners because of its explanatory and elucidating power in addressing the complexities of what we experience to be higher education in contemporary times. Many years ago, noted higher education and student development scholar Arthur Chickering commented that we “should hold the many theories available to us with tenuous tenacity and maintain a tough-minded and inquiring mind regarding theories” (Thomas & Chickering, 1984, p. 399). This continues to be good advice, particularly when embracing newer theoretical constructs and frameworks that become so popular so quickly that they run the risk of becoming “buzzwords” as well as being “catchy and convenient” (Davis, 2008, p. 75). Intersectionality has garnered the attention of scholars and practitioners in higher education and inspired them to define, understand, and apply it to various educational issues, institutional contexts, and student populations. Indeed, Intersectionality & Higher Education: Theory, Research, and Praxis represents a comprehensive and creative effort, with a diverse array of chapters covering a wide range of topics and perspectives on intersectionality in higher education.

Many in higher education were initially drawn to intersectionality because it emphasized linking identity to structures of privilege and oppression (Jones & Abes, 2013). As sociologist and leading scholar on intersectionality Bonnie Thornton Dill wrote, “To a large extent, intersectional work is about identity” ← xi | xii → (Dill, McLaughlin, & Nieves, 2007, p. 630). However, to only see intersectionality as...

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