Undermining Intersectionality

The Perils of Powerblind Feminism

Barbara Tomlinson
Book Cover

HC: $69.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1650-6
Publication: Nov 18

Ebook: $69.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1652-0
Publication: Nov 18

284 pages
6 x 9

A sustained critique of the ways in which scholars have engaged with and deployed intersectionality

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


In this provocative book, esteemed scholar Barbara Tomlinson asserts that intersectionality—the idea that categories such as gender, race, and class create overlapping systems of oppression—is consistently misinterpreted in feminist argument. Despite becoming a central theme in feminist scholarship and activism, Tomlinson believes dominant feminism has failed to fully understand the concept.

Undermining Intersectionality reveals that this apparent paradox is the result of the disturbing racial politics underlying more than two decades of widely-cited critiques of intersectionality produced by prominent white feminist scholars who have been insufficiently attentive to racial dynamics. As such, feminist critiques of intersectionality repeatedly reinforce racial hierarchies, undermining academic feminism’s supposed commitment to social justice. Tomlinson offers a persuasive analysis of the rhetorics and conventions of argument used in these critiques to demonstrate their systematic reliance on “powerblind” discursive practices.

Undermining Intersectionality concludes by presenting suggestions about concrete steps feminist researchers, readers, authors, and editors can take to promote more productive and principled engagements with intersectional thinking.

Table of Contents

1. Interrogating Critiques of Intersectionality
2. Category Anxiety
3. Metaphor Anxiety
4. Legitimating Powerblindness
5. The Vise of Geometry
6. Intersectionality Telephone and the Canyon of Echoes
7. The Invisible White Woman
8. Colonizing Intersectionality
9. Affect and the Epistemic Machine
10. Turning Off the Epistemic Machine

About the Author(s)

Barbara Tomlinson is a Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award. She is the author of Authors on Writing: Metaphors and Intellectual Labor; Feminism and Affect at the Scene of Argument: Beyond the Trope of the Angry Feminist; and (with George Lipsitz) Insubordinate Spaces: Improvisation and Accompaniment for Social Justice.