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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Donald Jr. Mitchell, Charlana Simmons and Lindsay A. Greyerbiehl

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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Chapter Twelve: Identity Constellations: An Intersectional Analysis of Female Student Veterans


← 134 | 135 → CHAPTER TWELVE

An Intersectional Analysis of Female Student Veterans


Researchers are increasingly aware of the limitations of identity dimensions as singular analytic categories (Berger & Guidroz, 2009; Montoya, 1998; Reynolds & Pope, 1991). Many feminist researchers, by example, have critiqued the use of gender as a sole identity category for analysis, and scholars have sought a framework to describe and understand the interaction of different forms of oppression and disadvantage, including race, sexuality, and gender (Baca Zinn, Hondagneu-Sotolo, & Messner, 2000; Collins, 1998; Fine, 1994; McCall, 2005). While many scholars have grappled with conceptualizations to describe the complexity of interrelated forces acting on dimensions of identity (e.g., Andersen, 2005; Baca Zinn et al., 2000; Ken, 2008), Crenshaw’s (1991) analogy of traffic through an intersection has become a dominant conceptualization of how individuals’ experiences are “frequently the product of intersecting patterns of racism and sexism” (p. 1243), along with other oppressions. Yet, some (e.g., Baca Zinn et al., 2000; Ken, 2007, 2008), with whom I align, argue that the intersection is a limited conceptual image and instead theorize alternatives. This chapter advances the metaphor of a constellation to the intersectionality literature. More than a theoretical manuscript, this chapter illustrates this conceptualization with findings from a qualitative study of female student veterans (Iverson, Seher, DiRamio, Jarvis, & Anderson, 2013).

Intersectionality originally emerged to destabilize categories of identity, for example, exposing how the category of “women” excludes “others” within that...

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