The intersectional body: – an embodiment perspective on differentiated experiences

Camilla Elg, Sune Qvotrup Jensen

Research output: Working paperResearch


Intersectionality has become a central concept for contemporary gender research. This paper explores intersectionality as embodiment, arguing that the corporal turn in social constructivism has potentials for the theorizing of intersectionality. It argues that such theorizing can draw inspiration from Merleau-Ponty’s thinking about human experience as always already being part of the physical world, and from the concept of mimesis which denotes that we are always as human beings spontaneously engaged with sociality, implying both the accumulation of practical sense and radical conditionality. It furthermore argues that while discursive thinking is not in itself a problem, thinking about social constructions and intersectionality in purely discursive terms is problematic.
The paper then outlines three potential gains of embodying the theorizing of intersectionality: 1, The problem of producing non-additive analyses might be managed as the body is by definition non-additive. 2, Considerations about fluidity and changeability might be refocused, as a central characteristic of the body is its intertia. 3, Thinking about power relations might be recast as attention is drawn to how power relations are embodied in a way which necessitates a reconsideration of strategies that focus on consciousness.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)978-87-90867-37-9
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2012
SeriesSociologisk arbejdspapir

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