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Bringing epistemology into intersectional methodology

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Since its academic introduction in the late 1980s, the concept of intersectionality has made a staple contribution to feminist scholarship. However, its institutionalised popularity and apparent depoliticisation have led scholars to raise two major concerns: the lack of a clearly defined intersectional methodology; and the erasure of black women scholars in intersectionality scholarship, particularly in the discipline of political science. While the latter rightly addresses epistemology and the politics of knowledge production, the former has lacked a thorough discussion on the ways in which epistemology impacts intersectional methodology, focusing instead on methods and method choice. Drawing on my own experience studying lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer people of colour activism in Canada, I argue that we need to bring epistemology into intersectional methodology. Hence, this article demonstrates how reflecting on one’s positionality, one’s embodiment of privileges and one’s ethical responsibilities informs the ways in which researchers operationalise intersectional projects, thereby shaping methodology.
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Keywords: epistemology; intersectionality; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer people of colour activism; methodology; social movements

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Université de Montréal, Canada

Publication date: September 2020

This article was made available online on December 23, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Bringing epistemology into intersectional methodology".

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  • The European Journal of Politics and Gender (EJPG) is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes international, cutting-edge research in the broad field of politics and gender. EJPG is the flagship journal of the European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG).

    EJPG is firmly embedded in global politics and gender scholarship, its scope is not limited to Europe. EJPG aims to advance gender and politics research in all its diversity. To this end it publishes Research Articles in the wide field of gender and politics, including a variety of geographical and thematic foci, methods and epistemological traditions. Contributions may rely on single-country case studies as much as cross-national comparative work or theoretical debates. The core criterion for publication is innovation and rigorous argumentation. Articles must have a clear 'take home message'.

    EJPG understands gender as a political phenomenon that shapes power relations. Gender is contextual and is influenced by the intersection of multiple social categories and identities. The processes produce patterns of political inclusion and exclusion that are sometimes immediately visible, but often also hidden. EJPG therefore studies formal and informal components of politics in local, national, transnational and global realms. Subfields encompass, but are not limited to: social movements; representation; political participation; governance; public policy; the European Union; political economy; conflict and development; citizenship; LGBTQI politics; sexuality; and international relations.

    EJPG solicits State of the Art pieces, which provide timely analyses of developments in the many subfields of politics and gender. These contributions focus on salient and contemporary themes. What are new research puzzles and dilemmas? Finally, EJPG includes a Gender Updates section, in which short descriptive pieces present data or analyses related to elections, policy changes, and public debates on gender-related issues across Europe. This section is a valuable resource for scholars, students, activists, and practitioners who may use this data for research and interventions in policy and public debate.

    For questions and pre-submission enquiries, please contact the editorial team at: [email protected]

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