Origins, Contestations, Horizons

Anna Carastathis

Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Series

300 pages
1 illustration, index


May 2019


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November 2016


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eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

November 2016


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eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

November 2016


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About the Book

A 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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” tends to circulate merely as a buzzword, Anna Carastathis joins other critical voices in urging 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, categorical 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 pervasive 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 that its potential to actualize coalitions can be enacted.

Author Bio

Anna Carastathis is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Social Anthropology at Panteion University in Athens, Greece. She coedited an issue of Refuge journal titled “Intersectional Feminist Interventions in the ‘Refugee Crisis.’” She has published work in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Feminist Review, Philosophy Compass, and Why Race and Gender Still Matter: An Intersectional Approach.



“This is, perhaps, Carastathis’s greatest insight: she urges us to think about intersectionality as a ‘profoundly destabilizing, productively disorienting, provisional concept’ whose work remains to be done. In this account, intersectionality refers to our desire to keep dreaming of a more just social world.”—Jennifer C. Nash, American Quarterly

"Intersectionality follows a clear theoretical arc and stages multiple interventions throughout, making it a resource for one well versed in the field or encountering it for the first time."—Desiree Valentine, Critical Philosophy of Race

"Anna Carastathis confronts an enduring obstacle to taking up intersectionality's potential: she illustrates how an ongoing, monist fragmentation of identities, communities, politics, and perceptions buttresses power hierarchies and reinforces exclusion by design."—Vivian M. May, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy

“Better theory is what Carastathis wants, and that implies for her a more fundamental critique of naturalized and essentialized groups and a ‘profoundly destabilizing, productively disorienting, provisional concept that disaggregates false unities, undermines false universalisms, and unsettles false entitlements.’”—Myra Marx Ferree, Contemporary Sociology

"Carastathis’s citational practices and the subsequent conversations she generates are a vital intervention in this current moment in academia. For both novices and experts in black feminist theories, this book is a crucial review of the literature for all academics at any stage of their career, especially those scholars naming their work as 'intersectional.'"—R. Aliah Ajamoughli, Journal of Folklore Research

“Anna Carastathis’s careful and sustained engagement with Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work is uniquely illuminating and helpful.”—Zenzele Isoke, author of Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance

Table of Contents




1. Intersectionality, Black Feminist Thought, and Women-of-Color Organizing

2. Basements and Intersections

3. Intersectionality as a Provisional Concept

4. Critical Engagements with Intersectionality

5. Identities as Coalitions

6. Intersectionality and Decolonial Feminism




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