New Center Explores Complexity of Discrimination

Spring 2012

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The Law School has launched the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, a research hub dedicated to the framework for analyzing discrimination that Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw introduced more than 20 years ago.

Crenshaw, who has published widely on civil rights law, discrimination, and other topics, originally developed the analytical construct as a means of investigating and articulating the multiple layers of discrimination faced by women of color.

Intersectionality examines how social structures and related identity categories such as gender, race, and class interact and overlap to create inequality on multiple levels. The new center is dedicated to revealing and combating the overlapping dynamics of discrimination that are often missed by one-dimensional conceptions of equal opportunity law and practice—issues also being addressed at the Law School by Professor Susan P. Sturm.

The new center’s existing projects focus on race, gender, and incarceration; substandard education and low-wage work; race, sexuality, and masculinities; and the generation of new disabilities and illnesses among communities of color.

At one of the center’s inaugural events this past fall, prominent feminist legal scholar, activist, and University of Michigan law professor Catherine A. MacKinnon addressed how intersectionality has influenced her work.

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