Sharon Cowan: Intersectionality

Dr Sharon Cowan is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Edinburgh University. Her research interests include: Gender, Sexuality and the Law; Law and Popular Culture; Feminist Legal Theory; Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. Current projects include: a book project based on a feminist analysis of consent in the criminal law; and a national empirical project, along with Helen Baillot of the Scottish Refugee Council, and Vanessa Munro of the University of Nottingham, funded by the Nuffield Foundation (2009-2012), looking at the the way in which women asylum claimants whose applications are based on a claim of rape, are treated by the Asylum and Immigration Appeal Tribunal.

Description of Workshop

This workshop will begin with an interactive exercise that takes approximately 35-40 minutes. We will then move into an introductory discussion of intersectionality before drawing on the experiences and thoughts of participants as to if and how intersectionality is a method or perspective that could be useful in their own work.

A reading list on the subject is provided below. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of intersectionality, you can either read a couple of articles in advance of the workshop (I have put an asterisk next to the ones you might want to look at) or refer to this list afterwards. The list is not exhaustive! But it encapsulates work that is both empirical and conceptual, and traverses the very first interventions by Crenshaw and Hill Collins, to the most recent theoretical or empirical work on intersectionality.


Acker, J. (1999). Rewriting class, race, and gender: Problems in feminist Rethinking’ in Myra Marx Ferree, Judith Lorber and Beth B. Hess (Eds.), Revisioning Gender (London: Sage Publications)

Baillot, H. Cowan, S. and Vanessa Munro (2011) ‘Crossing Borders, Inhabiting Spaces: The (In)credibility of Sexual Violence in Asylum Appeals’ in Sharron FitzGerald (ed) Regulating the International Movement of Women From Protection to Control (London: Routledge)

Bowleg, L. (2008) ‘When Black + Lesbian + Woman ≠ Black Lesbian Woman: The Methodological Challenges of Qualitative and Quantitative Intersectionality Research’ Sex Roles, 59:3, 312

Burgess-Proctor, A. (2006) ‘Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Crime: Future Directions for Feminist Criminology’ Feminist Criminology, 1:1, 27

Buss, D. (2009) ‘Sexual Violence, Ethnicity and Intersectionality in International Criminal Law’, in E Grabham, D Cooper and J Krishnadas (eds) Intersectionality and Beyond: Law, Power and the Politics of Location (London: Glasshouse)

Chang, R. and McCristal Culp, J. (2002-3) ‘After Intersectionality’ UMKC Law Review, 71: 485

Conaghan, J. (2009) ‘Intersectionality and the Feminist Project in Law’, in E. Grabham, D Cooper and J Krishnadas, (eds) Intersectionality and Beyond: Law, Power and the Politics of Location (London: Glasshouse)

Cole, E.R. (2008). ‘Coalitions as a Model for Intersectionality: From Practice to Theory’ Sex Roles, 59:3, 443

*Crenshaw, K. (1991) ‘Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color’, Stanford Law Review, 43, 1241

Crenshaw, K. (1989) ‘Demarginalising the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’, The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139

*Davis, K. (2008) ‘Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful’ Feminist Theory, 9:1, 67

Dworkin, S. L. (2005) ‘Who is epidemiologically fathomable in the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Gender, sexuality, and intersectionality in Public Health’ Culture, Health & Sexuality, 7:6, 615

Erez, E., Adleman, and Gregory (2009) ‘Intersections of Immigration and Domestic Violence: Voices of Battered Immigrant Women’ Feminist Criminology 4: 32.

*Hill Collins, P. (1993) ‘Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection’ Race, Sex & Class, 1:1, 25

Jedwab, J. & Donaldson, I. (2003) ‘Intersections of Diversity’ Canadian Ethnic Studies 35:3, 1

*McCall, L. (2005) ‘The Complexity of Intersectionality’ Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30, 1771

MacDonald, G., Osborne, R.L. & Smith, C.C. (Eds.) (2005) Feminism, law, inclusion: intersectionality in action (Toronto: Sumach Press)

Nash, J.C. (2008) ‘Re-thinking Intersectionality’ Feminist Review, 89, 1

Shields, S. (2008) ‘Gender: An Intersectionality Perspective’ Sex Roles, 59:3, 301 (this whole issue of Sex Roles is dedicated to Intersectionality)

Simien, E. (2007) ‘Doing Intersectionality Research: From Conceptual Issues to Practical Examples’ Politics & Gender, 3:2, 264

Squires, J. (2008) ‘Intersecting Inequalities: Reflecting on the Subjects and Objects of Equality’ The Political Quarterly, 79:1

Steinbugler, A., Press, & Johnson Dias (2006) ‘Gender, Race and Affirmative Action: Operationalizing Intersectionality in Survey Research’ Gender & Society, 20:6, 805

Valentine, G. (2007) ‘Theorizing and Researching Intersectionality: A Challenge for Feminist Geography’ Professional Geographer, 59:1, 10

Warner, L.R. (2008) ‘A Best Practices Guide to Intersectional Approaches in Psychological Research’ Sex Roles, 59:3, 454

Weasel, L. (2004) ‘Feminist Intersections in Science: Race, Gender and Sexuality Through the Microscope’ Hypatia, 19:2,183 (intersectionality has even made it in to feminist theories of science!)

Date, Time and Location: Friday, September 2nd – 15:45-17:15 – Space Two


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