Intersectionality and Social-Reproduction Feminisms

Toward an Integrative Ontology

In: Historical Materialism
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  • 1 Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario

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Seeking to capture the multi-layered, contradictory, nature of subjectivities and social positions through a framework which insists upon the complex, dynamic nature of the social, intersectionality feminism has inspired Marxist-Feminists to push the social-reproduction feminism paradigm beyond a narrow preoccupation with gender/class relations. Yet even its most politically radical articulations stop short of fully theorising the integrative logic they espouse. This article explores the roots of this under-theorisation, and suggests that a more fully integrative ontology informs certain formulations of social-reproduction feminism. In understanding the social as constituted by practical human activity whose object (the social and natural world) is organised capitalistically, social-reproduction feminism highlights the dialectical relationship between the capitalist whole and its differentiated parts. The challenge for Marxist-Feminism is to embrace this dialectical approach while building on the insights of intersectionality feminism to more convincingly capture the unity of a complex, diverse social whole.

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  • 2

    See Ferguson 1999, 2008; Luxton 2006; Luxton, Ferguson, Schein and Carty 2014.

  • 4

    Sayers 1985, p. 16.

  • 8

    Nash 2008, p. 4.

  • 10

    Ackerly and McDermott 2012, p. 367.

  • 11

    Davis 2008, p. 68.

  • 12

    Ackerly and McDermott 2012, p. 367. See Davis 2008, p. 75, for a snapshot of the literature. Also see Butler 1990; Bannerji 2005; McCall 2005; Nash 2008; Winker and Degele 2011.

  • 13

    Yuval-Davis 2006, p. 195. The term ‘camp’ is in scare-quotes because each ‘camp’s’ adherents do not rigidly subscribe to and/or defend the distinctions Yuval-Davis draws.

  • 14

    Nash 2008, pp. 6, 7.

  • 16

    Carbado, Crenshaw, Mays and Tomlinson 2013, p. 206.

  • 17

    Nash 2008, p. 12.

  • 18

    See Dhamoon 2011, p. 233; Nash 2008, pp. 6–7; and Yuval-Davis 2006, pp. 195–8, for elaborations on these criticisms. See Carbado et al. for a partial rebuttal (Carbado, Crenshaw, Mays and Tomlinson 2013, p. 308).

  • 20

    Yuval-Davis 2006, p. 195.

  • 21

    Nash 2008, p. 10.

  • 22

    See, for example, Yuval-Davis 2006, p. 195. Crenshaw and others who take an additive approach will describe oppressions as interdependent, but this is asserted rather than explained.

  • 23

    Hill Collins 1990, p. 222. Hill Collins uses the term ‘interlocking’ to evoke the necessary relation of systems of oppression in the broader social context (as opposed to the more contingent ‘intersectional’ historical moments).

  • 24

    Dhamoon 2011, p. 234.

  • 25

    Dhamoon 2011, pp. 238–9.

  • 26

    Anthias 2012, p. 130.

  • 27

    Yuval-Davis 2006, p. 195.

  • 29

    Dhamoon 2011, pp. 238–9 (emphasis added).

  • 30

    Anthias 2012, p. 132. Anthias does not explicitly equate ‘translocational’ with ‘transnational’, but is unclear about what else might constitute the former.

  • 31

    Anthias 2012, pp. 133 and 131.

  • 33

    See Davis 2008. As well, Dhamoon’s ‘matrixes of meaning-making’ (Dhamoon 2011) seem to see power primarily in discursive terms.

  • 35

    See McNally 2015.

  • 36

    Williams 1977, pp. 83–9.

  • 37

    Bannerji 2005, p. 146.

  • 38

    Bannerji 2014, p. 128.

  • 41

    See, for example, Nash 2008, p. 13; and Anthias 2012, p. 131.

  • 42

    Laslett and Brenner 1989, p. 382.

  • 43

    Marx 1964, p. 111; Marx and Engels 1932, Volume 1, Chapter 1. If this expansive understanding of labour is indeed a premise of history, its internal differentiation (over time and across space) needs to be explained. An exclusive focus on any particular form of labour (value-creating, or domestic, or peasant, for instance) risks occluding the wider picture.

  • 44

    Gramsci 1971, pp. 34–5.

  • 48

    Ferguson and McNally 2013, p. xxv.

  • 50

    For example, see Picchio 1992.

  • 51

    Luxton 2006, pp. 36–7.

  • 52

    Marx 1973, p. 29.

  • 53

    Marx 1976, pp. 275, 716.

  • 56

    Miles 1989, p. 70.

  • 57

    Ferguson 2008; see also Katz 2001.

  • 61

    Ollman 1971, Section iii.

  • 68

    See McNally 2015, pp. 142–4.

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