Intersectionality, Culture and Society

Intersectionality, referring to intersections of gender/sex and other social and cultural power differentials, categorizations and identity markers such as ethnicity, race, class, nationality, geopolitical positioning, religion, sexuality, age, dis/ability, species etc, is a central concept in contemporary gender studies. Intersectional analysis has been heralded as ´the most important contribution that women´s studies has made so far´ (McCall 2005: 1771), but feminist debates on intersectionality have also been informed by different theoretical and political stances and have sometimes been conflictual. This theme, arching across several research strands at the three GEXcel universities of Karlstad, Linköping and Örebro, is designed against the background of the rich and diverse feminist traditions for theorizing of intersectionality, but it is also informed by the tensions between these traditions. It takes as a point of departure that intersectionality and issues of differences have been studied by many different kinds of feminist, gender and equality theorists, but that these studies often have been carried out in separate and often disagreeing communities of feminist scholars, and that the concept of intersectionality is contested. Against this background, this GEXcel research field will systematically bring key theoretical and methodological strands of feminist analysis of intersectionality and difference into transversal dialogue and set up arenas for cross-fertilization and for development of new and more comprehensive and transgressive analytical approaches and theoretical understandings of intersectional gender/sex, its embeddedness in processes of socio-cultural change and its embodiment in transcorporeal, posthuman and postnatural assemblages.

  • This field covers the following established research strands:

    Feminist Theorizings of Intersectionality, Transversal Dialogues and New Synergies

    Strand chair: Nina Lykke & Liisa Husu 

    Intersectionality, referring to intersections gender and other social and cultural power differentials, categorizations and identity markers such as ethnicity, race, class, nationality, geopolitical positioning, religion, sexuality, age, dis/ability, species etc, is a central concept in contemporary feminist theorizing. This strand is emerging out of the rich and diverse feminist traditions for theorizing of intersectionality, but, in particular, it is informed by tensions and conflicts between these traditions. The overall purpose of the research, carried out under the umbrella of this stand, is to bring different – and sometimes conflicting - positions in feminist intersectional theorizing and analysis into transversal dialogue and set up arenas for cross-fertilization and for development of new and more comprehensive and transgressive analytical approaches and theoretical understandings.

  • Intersectional feminist cultural politics

    Strand chair: Anna Lundberg

    This research strand focuses on the intersections between culture and politics from a feminist intersectional perspective. The intersections in question work on a transdisciplinary level, where theories and methodologies used in cultural studies and political and social sciences will merge in order to meet the challenges of our time. Intersections in power hierarchies expressed in empirical material will also play an important role in this research strand. A wide range of cultural expressions and arenas, such as performance art, music, street theatre, children’s’ cultural activities, creative writing, story-telling, dancing etc will be in focus.

  • Intersectional critical heritage studies

    Strand chair: Wera Grahn

    This research strand combines approaches from Intersectional Gender Studies with Critical Heritage Studies. The authorized constructions of history within the sector of cultural heritage will be examined and challenged. The point of departure is a quest for how we construct and use history today, analysed from a perspective of intersectional critical heritage studies, and a search for new understandings of the past. The aim of the strand is to deconstruct the intersectional institutionalized norms being embedded in the official historiographies narrated in and by the official heritage institutions – such as museums of history and historical sites and buildings. The research strand will try to understand how these material-discursive phenomena (Barad 2007) are constructed, can be analysed and understood, on the bases of intersectional gender studies (Lykke 2010:50), combined with the concepts “poetics” and “politics” (Lidchi 1999: 169) of heritage, and concept the “authorized heritage discourse, (AHD)” (Smith 2006), as main analytical tools. The strand will furthermore explore potential strategies of change within this field, by exploring the potential for and experimenting with alternative constructions of history, with special emphasize on Donna Haraway’s concept “elsewhere” (1989:15). The concept will be a conceptual and experimental vehicle for new collective understandings of imaginaries past.

  • Postsocialist/Postcolonial Feminisms – Decolonial Dialogues

    Strand chairs: Redi Koobak, Madina Tlostanova & Nina Lykke

    This research strand emerges out of the long feminist tradition of theorizing politics of location. In particular, it places the matter of geopolitical positioning at the centre of attention and explores what a self-reflexive stance on global/local locations might look like if we are to move beyond crude and rather abstract categories such as East-West and North-South. The overall aim of the research within this strand is to study the intersections of postcolonial and postsocialist feminist discourses and put these in dialogue with recent discussions on decoloniality in order to develop new critical and analytical approaches to understanding transnational feminisms in the context of coloniality and domination.

  • Postcolonial Bodies

    Strand chairs: Nina Lykke & Malena Gustavson

    This research strand will focus on the entanglement of corpomaterialities, affectivity and intersectional power differentials, as well as explore strategies of resistance, in particular, the role of bodies, sexualities, vulnerabilities, pleasure, pain and passions in processes of decolonization and disidentification. It is based on the assumption that intersecting processes of resistance to and decolonialization of hegemonic power relations cannot unfold without being nourished by strong bodily and affective sources. It is taken as a point of departure that human and non-human bodies and environments are disciplined by capitalism, colonialism, technoscience, heteronormativity and other hegemonic power regimes to function in complicity and compliance with intersecting institutionalized norms (gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, dis/ability, geopolitical position, regimes of health/illness, etc). But it is also assumed that norms and institutions do not only produce complicity and docility, but that they at the same time also co-produce varying kinds of unease, pain, discomfort, vulnerability etc, which sometimes lead to political immobilization, but in other instances generate resistance, disidentification and decolonializing movements of change. The research within the strand to explores such movements of change and their somatechnics.

  • Love and feminist theory

    Strand chairs: Anna G. Jónasdóttir & Lena Gunnarsson

    The fast growing field of interdisciplinary Love Studies is being carried by both non-feminist and feminist knowledge interests, seemingly more so by non-feminist scholars. This strand builds on and develops the results from the previous GEXcel research theme, Love in Our Time – a Question for Feminism (LiOT), run through 2010, and the aim is to promote critical and constructive – including intersectional - feminist analyses on different levels of generality within three broadly defined sub-areas:

    Love: a question for feminism

    - in variously framed studies of history, culture and contemporary societies

    - in philosophy, including ethics as well as philosophy of science (ontology, methodology, epistemology)

    - in studies of political activity and ideas in social movements as well as institutionalized power and policy-making.

  • Cancer Cultures as lens to Intersectional Patienthood Studies

    Strand chair: Nina Lykke

    The strand is focusing on three interrelated dimensions. Firstly, the question of cancer as a cultural phenomenon is addressed, taking a starting point in the paradox that, while representations of cancer and cancer patienthood abound in contemporary popular culture, cancer is more seldom the theme of critical cultural studies. A small, but significant tradition for critical cultural studies of cancer, including queer, trans, feminist, and postcolonial ones does, however, exist, and has served as an inspiration for the strand. Secondly, the strand is taking issue with patienthood as an embodied sociocultural positioning and subjectivity. Patienthood (and un/health) is explored as a dimension to be included in intersectional feminist theorizations. It is understood as a dimension which intraacts closely with the issue of dis/abilities, but it is also assumed that more adequate analytical perspectives seem to emerge from a taking into account not only overlaps, but also distinctly separate dynamics and political perspectives. Thirdly, the strand builds on and further develops postconstructionist frameworks, defining (un)healthy bodies as material-semiotic actors entangled in transcorporeal, affective relations made up of networks of culture and biology.

  • Intersectional Roma Studies

    Strand chair: Pia Laskar

    The strand studies representations of Roma people’s gender and sexuality as boundary markers of the ideal or desirable. By integrating gender analysis in Roma studies and Roma studies in gender studies the strand aims to open doors for new collaborations, perspectives and methodologies. Roma people are the ethnic group that today is subjected to the most extensive discrimination in Europe. The point of departure of this strand is to deepen the knowledge of what ideas and notions of Roma that circulates today and have circulated in the past and develop methodologies to understand and combat prejudice concerning differences between people. A broad purpose of the strand is to map and examine representations of Roma people in the 19-20th C in science, law, art and popular culture – and place these in the context of their contemporary racial and gender thinking. How scientists and artists gendered and racialized Roma people will be studied as expressions of normalization processes in which descriptions of the inferior or exoticised other transmit signals on codes of conduct to the majority population. The codes will be related to different processes of urbanization, industrialization, colonization and nationalist currents.

    Strand chair Pia Laskar is currently co-editing - together with Markus End, Hristo Kyuchukov and Jan Selling - “Antiziganism: What´s in a word?” Report from the Uppsala international conference on the Discrimination, Marginalization and Persecution of Roma 2013 Forthcoming: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

    Relevant publications

  • A feminist reading of ICT-enabled-Development (ICT4D)

    Strand chair: Caroline Wamala

    Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have ushered in a digital era with numerous possibilities for development, poverty reduction, and women’s sociotechnical empowerment. Reliance on the technologies subsumed under the ICT acronym to further the development of the global south have been subjected to theoretical readings from a range of disciplines. A feminist reading of ICT enabled development exposes this field to critical perspectives that veer away from the implicit technological determinism associated with the area.

    Applying theoretical analyses from the gender and technology discipline, the research within this strand contributes to furthering gender diversity in gender and technology studies and opens up for cross-cultural interventions, comparisons and intersectional understandings. A huge spectrum of variations in gender subjectivities in relation to artefacts and technology remains open to investigation, and its analysis can bring new perspectives to the field. This also implies that addressing the relative absence of gender and technology research on non-western contexts should introduce a wider range of cultural perspectives on the gender relations embedded in a diverse range of settings. Studies of gender and technology relations and of technological change in general, consequently require attention as to how gender as well as class and race often instigate changes in the social and cultural balance of different societies.