Intersectionality, as we envision it in the context of this project, is a complex approach to theorizing identity that recognizes how people experience multiple oppressions related to their multiple identities, in particular related to race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, disability, and other inequalities (Cho, Crenshaw, & McCall, 2013). The notion of intersectionality we discuss here originated in the work of Crenshaw (1989, 1991), who argues that the potential for social justice is limited by narrow conceptions of identity that do not account for the multiple, intersecting forms of oppression people experience.
The concept of intersectionality is particularly important for people enacting a technofeminist rhetorical approach to social justice. Often, people in marginalized communities draw on and integrate their multiple forms of knowledge and multiple identities to form political coalitions (Carastathis, 2013) in marginalized online and/or material communities. Such coalition-building is particularly important among “multiply marginalized” community members (Nash, 2008, p. 9). Although such coalitions may not encompass all dimensions of community members’ identities, they do help community members “invent and inhabit identities that register the effects of differentiated and uneven power, permitting them to envision and enact new social relations grounded in multiple axes of intersecting, situated knowledge” (Chun, Lipsitz, & Shin, 2013, p. 917).
Intersectionality serves as an important starting point for acknowledging and learning from changing, overlapping, and even conflicting experiences with and conceptions of inequalities (Cho et al., 2013) and for recognizing the exigency for coming together—even if not everyone faces the same forms of marginalization or oppression or are in complete agreement—to intervene.