Metaphors of Intersectionality: Framing the Debate with a New Image

European Journal of Women's Studies (2020)
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Whereas intersectionality presents a fruitful framework for theoretical and empirical research, some of its fundamental features present great confusion. The term ‘intersectionality’ and its metaphor of the crossroads seem to reproduce what it aims to avoid: conceiving categories as separate. Despite the attempts for developing new metaphors that illustrate the mutual constitution relation among categories, gender, race or class keep being imagined as discrete units that intersect, mix or combine. Here we identify two main problems in metaphors: the lack of differentiation between positions and effects and the problem of reification. We then present a new metaphor that overcomes these two problems: a basket of apples. We argue that considering social positions as the diverse properties of different apples avoids reification by considering categories as properties and not as objects themselves, and at the same time it allows us to think about the effects dimension from a plural and contextual approach. With this shift, we propose a reframing of the discussion in debates on intersectionality theory on the relation among categories, their in/separability and fragmentation.

Author's Profile

Marta Jorba
Universitat Pompeu Fabra


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