Intersectional Politics at the Boundaries of the Nation State


Bassel, Leah. 2010. “Intersectional Politics at the Boundaries of the Nation State.” Ethnicities 10 (2): 155-180.

Author: Leah Bassel


This article explores what it means to take women’s agency seriously and to fulfill the potential of intersectional politics. If we accept the central tenets of intersectionality, that axes of oppression are simultaneous and interacting, then we must interrogate the framing of current debates over women’s rights around the tension between gender and religious/cultural accommodation. It is argued that the unfulfilled potential of intersectional politics leads to the denial of intersectional voices. This potential can only be fulfilled by enabling participation that goes beyond responding to predetermined positions to permit the exercise of meaningful power in the construction of contexts. These claims are illustrated through analysis of the debate over so-called ‘shari’a tribunals’ in Canada. The debate is juxtaposed with the experiences of Somali refugee women who instead assert interacting and simultaneous challenges that combine the axes of religion, legal status, ‘race’, class and gender.

Keywords: agency, Canada, immigration, intersectionality, participation, politics, refugees, voice, Somali women

Topics: Class, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Governance, Political Participation, Race, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Canada

Year: 2010

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