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ASU faculty fellow examines intersectionality in new book

headshot of Patrick R. Grzanka
February 26, 2014

"Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers Reader," by Patrick R. Grzanka, honors faculty fellow at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, is a new and comprehensive resource for the study of the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality and other dimensions of social inequality.

The book, recently published by Westview Press (a division of Perseus Books), is an anthology of foundational readings and emerging classics by scholars in the field of intersectionality. Grzanka’s writing situates each of the 42 readings within ten thematic units and introduces the field of intersectionality in an original essay that provides context and poses guiding questions about intersectionality’s capacities to critique inequalities and promote social justice.

Key writings encompass the broad scope of intersectionality in diverse aspects of society, including the law, communities, media, politics, science and technology. An epilogue by sociologist Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, professor of women’s studies and founding intersectional theorist, reflects on intersectionality’s travels across the disciplines and sites of analysis.

Intersectionality has become an important paradigm in the social sciences and humanities that offers insights into how systems of oppression, such as racism and sexism, are connected to one another in complex and intricate ways, Grzanka said.

The book charts the origins of intersectional theory and methods while looking ahead to new frontiers in the field, Grzanka added. Accordingly, the book features empirical case studies and theoretically driven analyses from widely cited and influential authors, including Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Angela Y. Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, Gloria Anzaldúa, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Roderick Ferguson and Jasbir Puar.

“In selecting the excerpts and crafting my own writing, I hoped to explain and convey the complexity of intersectionality in ways that could be understood by new audiences and appreciated by experts,” Grzanka said.

Advance praise for the book suggests Grzanka accomplished his goal.

Vrushali Patil, professor of sociology and women’s studies at Florida International University, said that “Grzanka historicizes and situates the multidisciplinary field of intersectionality studies, managing to achieve a depth and breadth that academics in the field will appreciate, while engaging in a clear and straightforward writing style that also makes this a suitable undergraduate text. We’ve needed a work like this for quite some time.”

Elizabeth R. Cole, professor of psychology, Afroamerican and African studies and chair of women’s studies at the University of Michigan, also has endorsed the book. “This well-curated and insightfully organized collection will be a tremendous resource both to novices wanting to learn about the origins and rationale for the concept of intersectionality, as well as those looking for cutting-edge applications in theory, policy and research,” Cole said.

Cole and Patil are among a group of leading scholars from institutions including Virginia Tech, Kenyon College and Simmons College, who have offered their praise for Grzanka’s work, calling it a “wonderful contribution” and “essential reading.”

"Intersectionality" is available on Amazon at