Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the objectives of the I-Lab at NYU SPS?
The mission of the ILab@SPS is threefold:
- To provide a dynamic and safe space for critical reflection on inclusive praxis and pedagogy
- To serve as a facilitatory hub for innovative projects across all disciplines with industry partners
- To facilitate research engagement for inclusive, innovative projects across SPS and NYU
2. What is intersectionality?
Coined in 1989 by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is a powerful analytical framework that lets us understand how an individual’s different social and political (group) identities—such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, height, body size, skin tone, ability, caste, religion, immigration status, or nationality—intersect, and in their compound form facilitate their access to power and privilege, or, conversely, cause disempowerment and disadvantage. Intersectionality is not a buzzword or a fad. Dating back more than a century, Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, and, later, black and indigenous feminists in the 1960s and 70s, such as Audre Lorde and Angela Davis, powerfully drew attention to the pernicious consequences of entrenched intersecting structural, political and representational inequalities, especially for women of color experiencing poverty. Intersectionality remains a highly contested concept with varying meanings and interpretations.
Click here for a brief video of Professor Crenshaw as she explains the meaning of intersectionality.
3. Why does intersectionality matter?
The objective of intersectional analysis is explicitly normative and emancipatory [anti-oppressive?]. Intersectionality shines the spotlight on how laws, institutions, structures, policies, programs, and processes—from development and the use of force to financial services, sports, tourism, criminal justice and real estate--often unintentionally but no less harmfully affect people differently in light of their overlapping identities, the objective of intersectionality is to create spaces “for more advocacy and remedial practices” (Crenshaw) by mainstreaming the lived experiences of the marginalized into the design of laws, institutions, policies and programs to ultimately create a more inclusive, just and egalitarian society.
One of the most powerful poems by Audre Lorde that illustrates how the characters’ intersecting identities simultaneously create shared experiences of privilege while cruelly pitting them against one another in the struggle for individual liberation.
4. How do I incorporate intersectionality into my teaching?
Start by reviewing discipline/industry specific Research Digests on the I-Lab website. You can also contact us to to schedule a conversation with a member of the I-Lab team.