Tutorial Resources: Intersectionality

For my tutorials I always try to use different multimedia resources to help students understand and deepen their understanding of course materials. I like using multimedia because its more interesting than having students hear me talk the entire tutorial and frankly some people can convey topics better than I can. I especially like short visually appealing YouTube videos.

Here are some videos I have vetted as effective resources for teaching intersectionality to undergraduates in social sciences

A visual and succinct explanation on intersectionality as a framework for understanding the complexities of how different systems of oppression come together. This was commissioned and produced by Professor Peter Hopkins, Newcastle University

“African American women have always been part of the African American struggle for full equality. Learn how early freedom fighters like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Anna Julia Cooper fought against multiple oppressions. Scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw explains how the intersections of these oppressions "manifest today in the term she coined, "intersectionality."

This video by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture does a great job in showing how African-American women historically have used intersectionality as a lens for understanding the the multifacetedness of their experience in relation to systems of oppression.

Now more than ever, it's important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias -- and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term "intersectionality" to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you're standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you're likely to get hit by both.

Intersectionality as a Research Framework

From Theory to Practice. The Intersectionality Theory as a Research Strategy by Alba Angelucci from Universität Wien (University of Vienna. Download the working paper here.

Abstract

What is the Intersectionality Theory? How can it be used for investigating social phenomena?

This paper is aimed at scrutinizing the methodological challenges that the

wide application of the Intersectionality Theory in social sciences has brought to light,

presenting some practical examples of intersectional research. After showing strengths

and weaknesses of the intersectional paradigm, this work will try to rebut some of the

most relevant criticisms of the Intersectionality Theory which have emerged so far within

the academic debate. Then, the paper will discuss how it is possible to minimize potential

drawbacks and to foster positive aspects of this approach, delineating an intersectional

method, which can be used as a guideline to direct eventual future intersectional

research.


I was thinking about how I can demonstrate to students how an intersectional framework has been used by different types of researchers. This lead me to think about how social determinants of health is an intersectional framework for understanding health inequities and inequality.

the canadian government on the social determinants of health:

Social determinants of health refer to a specific group of social and economic factors within the broader determinants of health. These relate to an individual’s place in society, such as income, education or employment. Experiences of discrimination or historical trauma are also important social determinants of health for certain groups such as Indigenous Peoples.
— https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/population-health/what-determines-health.html

Social and economic influences on health

Many factors have an influence on health. In addition to our individual genetics and lifestyle choices, where we are born, grow, live, work and age also have an important influence on our health.

Determinants of health are the broad range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine individual and population health. The main determinants of health include:

1) Income and social status; 2) Employment and working conditions; 3)Education and literacy 4) Childhood experiences; 5) Physical environments; 6) Social supports and coping skills; 7)Healthy behaviours; 8) Access to health services; 9) Biology and genetic endowment; 10) Gender; 11) Culture

Social determinants of health refer to a specific group of social and economic factors within the broader determinants of health. These relate to an individual's place in society, such as income, education or employment. Experiences of discrimination or historical trauma are also important social determinants of health for certain groups such as Indigenous Peoples.


Canadian Research/Resources

When I incorporate other resources in my teaching, I do my best to draw upon Canadian examples/research because I want students to learn more about the country they live in. Most of the resources I come across are American. It’s easy for educators to draw upon the American experience and try to extrapolate to the Canadian context; however, I think it does a disservice to understanding the socio-cultural-political histories of- and the creation of- the nation state of Canada. While similar, the American experience is not the same as the Canadian experience.

“Health is about more than having access to doctors, drugs and hospitals. Our health is shaped by a complex set of interconnected and dynamic social factors: the circumstances in which people live, grow, work, and age. Research tells us that by addressing these social conditions, we can improve people's health and well-being and reduce health inequities.”

Here is a video by the Toronto based Wellesley Institute that works in research and policy to improve health and health equity in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) through action on the social determinants of health. The video by Wellesley Institute does a great job at showing the macro forces e.g. politics, institutions, planning, that shape our health outcomes, as an anthropologist I want to show students how these systems influences the lives and decisions that people make.

This video by Global Institute of Psychosocial, Palliative and End-of-Life Care (GIPPEC) uses an animation to show how the socioeconomic status differences between two women affects how they prioritize cervical cancer screenings.


Diagrams for understanding intersectionality

Lastly, I am using this article ‘Understanding Intersectionality’ by Kirthi Jayakumar as a guide to help students think about themselves and the greater social-cultural factors that influence their agency and experience. I like all of these resources because I do not want to come across teaching intersectionality as ‘oppression olympics’ by rather as a framework for helping understand the complexities of social life, which needs to be taken into consideration when we are designing and doing social science research.

Jayakumar draws upon the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW-ICREF)‘s Intersectionality Wheel in her article. To my delight, CRIAW-ICREF is a Canadian organization that since 1976:

“Has been researching and documenting the economic and social situation of women in Canada. Using intersectional frameworks, we have developed and undertaken a variety of important, groundbreaking research that is women centred. CRIAW-ICREF is a not for profit member based organization.”

They focus exclusively on nurturing feminist research and making it accessible for public advocacy and education.

Women and Public Sector Precarity: Causes, Conditions and Consequences 

Here’s a link to a factsheet created by Jacqueline Neapole and Sarah Morrison on an Intersectional Analysis of Women and Precarity based on the Changing Public Services: Women and Intersectional Analysis project, led by the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW-ICREF).

I like this factsheet because it shows the justifications for why researchers chose an intersectional approach. I believe it's important to emphasize to students that while it may seem obvious that a particular framework is more robust than another (depending on your research question), researchers still always need to justify their use of it. Explanation is always good practice.