Theory, Research, & Praxis
Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele
Chapter Three: Intersectionality: A Legacy from Critical Legal Studies and Critical Race Theory
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A Legacy from Critical Legal Studies and Critical Race Theory
ALLISON DANIEL ANDERS AND JAMES M. DEVITA
Activists, scholars, and researchers in education studies (Bettie, 2003; Patel, 2013), higher education (Abes, Jones, & McEwen, 2007; Mitchell & Means, 2014; Strayhorn, Blakewood, & DeVita, 2008, 2010), human rights (Raj, Bunch, & Nazombe, 2002), political science (Berger, 2004), and women’s studies (Collins, 2008; Davis, 1983; Lorde, 1984) have studied experience at the intersection of multiple identities and have argued for understandings and practices that acknowledge them. In this chapter, we argue that studying the legacies of critical legal studies, critical race theory, and, in particular, intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991a, p. 58), a term first used by Kimberlé Crenshaw, can guide research about multiple targeted identities in productive ways. Crenshaw (1991b), an African American Woman, legal scholar, and critical race theorist, argued that dominant social patterns and systemic inequities affect the lived experience of groups and individuals who embody multiple targeted identities and that such patterns and inequities often produce “intersectional disempowerment” (p. 1245). Crenshaw’s conceptions of intersectionality deepen opportunities for activists, scholars, and researchers in higher education who are committed to studying racial and social justice, to theorize about experience at the intersection of multiple targeted identities and to strategize against dominant social patterns and systemic inequity.
Not only because Crenshaw (1991a) emphasized the importance of “the experiences and concerns of Black women” (p. 58), but also because too often White...
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