Professor Ina Kerner: 'Relations of Difference: Diversity, Power and Inequality in Intersectional and Postcolonial Feminist Theories

Ina Kerner will address how is diversity conceptualized and represented, as well as in which way does this representation differ from the representation put forward in the rival approach.

Seminar CANCELLED due to staff stickness. 


'Relations of Difference: Diversity, power and inequality in intersectional and postcolonial feminist theories'

Feminist theory has addressed diversity within gender groups as well as the entanglement of various forms of differentiation, power and inequality for a long time. This does not mean that there was unanimity with regard to the best way of doing this, though. In fact, there are rather distinct approaches to conceptualizing diversity within feminist theory today, and there are heated debates about the analytical and the political advantages and pitfalls of each of them.

In my paper, I concentrate on two of these approaches. Both have contributed to considerable theoretical renewal during the last decades and years. The first one is intersectionality research, the second one is connected to postcolonial studies.

Intersectionality research has its roots in black and women of color feminism, which could never restrict its critical analysis to a single axis of differentiation, or to a single section of inequality. Over the last years, the field has broadly expanded. Currently, it is informing intense theoretical as well as methodological work that more and more transcends the original group based orientation and seeks for intersectional interpretations of policies, social dynamics and practices, social and political structures and the like.

Postcolonial studies, on the other hand, critically assess the ways in which legacies of colonialism, as well as forms of neocolonialism, inform and shape our postcolonial world. Postcolonial feminist theories concentrate on the gender aspects of these issues as well as on the challenges that they create for the political project of transnational feminism. Given this program, postcolonial feminist theories seem more historically and more globally oriented than many of the positions put forward within current intersectionality research.

Drawing on select positions from both approaches, the talk will address two questions: First, how is diversity conceptualized and represented here? Second, in which way does this representation differ from the representation put forward in the rival approach, and where do they overlap? Finally, I assess some of the strengths and limits of the two approaches and suggest ways in which some of their respective insights might be combined.


Professor Ina Kerner

Ina is an Assistant Professor for Diversity Politics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Germany and currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Postcolonial Studies at Goldsmiths.  Her research interests include contemporary political and social theory (particularly feminist and postcolonial theories) and questions of diversity and intersectionality.

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