Theory, Research, & Praxis
Chapter Six: Realizing the Power of Intersectionality Research in Higher Education
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SAMUEL D. MUSEUS AND NATASHA A. SAELUA
As postsecondary institutions have become more diverse, higher education scholarship has increasingly focused on diversity-related topics. For example, higher education research on the benefits of diversity, campus racial climates, and racialized campus cultures has become more common (e.g., Harper & Hurtado, 2007; Museus & Jayakumar, 2012). It is important to acknowledge, however, that this research can simultaneously contribute to a common diversity and equity agenda, while rendering particular identity groups voiceless within that narrative. If higher education research aims to increase understanding of all students in higher education and inform ways to maximize the likelihood that they will thrive, it is important for postsecondary education scholars to seek to excavate the voices of all marginalized populations and generate authentic understandings of these groups. In this chapter, we highlight intersectionality as a valuable conceptual lens and analytical tool for achieving these ends (Museus & Griffin, 2011).
Intersectionality has been described as an “analytic sensibility…a way of thinking about the problem of sameness and difference and its relation to power” (Cho, Crenshaw, & McCall, 2013, p. 795). Intersectionality was first introduced in the legal field but has been adopted and has informed discourse in multiple disciplines—including gender studies, ethnic studies, sociology, and education—allowing researchers to excavate many voices and experiences marginalized by dominant narratives (e.g., Cole, 2009; Museus & Griffin, 2011). As a concept, intersectionality suggests that the confluence of systems of...
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