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Intersectionality intervenes in the field of intersectionality studies: the integrative examination of the effects of racial, gendered, and class power on people’s lives. While “intersectionality” circulates as a buzzword, Anna Carastathis joins other critical voices to urge a more careful reading. Challenging the narratives of arrival that surround it, Carastathis argues that intersectionality is a horizon, illuminating ways of thinking that have yet to be realized; consequently, calls to “go beyond” intersectionality are premature. A provisional interpretation of intersectionality can disorient habits of essentialism, categorial purity, and prototypicality and overcome dynamics of segregation and subordination in political movements.
Through a close reading of critical race theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s germinal texts, published more than twenty-five years ago, Carastathis urges analytic clarity, contextual rigor, and a politicized, historicized understanding of this widely traveling concept. Intersectionality’s roots in social justice movements and critical intellectual projects—specifically Black feminism—must be retraced and synthesized with a decolonial analysis so its radical potential to actualize coalitions can be enacted.