Intersectionality, Discourse, and Methodology

The topic of hegemonic discourses, especially those taking gender, sex, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, mother tongue, dis/ability, etc as a ground to legitimize social hierarchies, power differentials, and in-/exclusions. Also,
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  Intersectionality, Discourse, and Methodology Gaudi Delgado Falcón    ————————————————————————————————————— The topic of hegemonic discourses, especially those taking gender, sex, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, mother tongue, dis/ability, etc as a ground to legitimize social hierarchies,  power differentials, and in-/exclusions. Also, examining theories of intersectional gender/sex in interdisciplinary perspectives like Mohanty’s (1984) on how colonization has been used not only for its analytic value as a category of exploitative economic exchange but, in some “feminist” texts to characterize everything from the most evident economic and political hierarchies to the production of a particular cultural discourse about what is called the “Third World,” known now as Global South. This paper presents a survey of works that discuss intersectionality, discourse, and methodology. In her Under Western Eyes  (1984) Mohanty attempts to draw attention to the textual strategies used  by particular writers that codify Others as non-western and hence themselves as (implicitly) Westerns, separating themselves from the object/subject of analysis. Mohanty asserts that feminist scholarly practices (whether reading, writing, critical or textual) are inscribed in relations of power  —relations which they counter, resist, or even perhaps implicitly support. There can, of course, she admits, be no apolitical scholarship. In this regard, I consider that a researcher should maintain an objective position and not one of power in relation to the subject that is analysed. As Mohanty points out, to shed light on the relationship between “woman”—as a cultural ideological composite Other constructed through diverse representational discourses (scientific, literary, juridical, linguistic, cinematic, etc.)—and “women”—real, material subjects of their  collective histories—is one of the central questions the practice of feminism scholarship seeks to address (Mohanty, 1984:334). However, many researchers, not necessarily feminists, would  probably object that an analysis of this kind do not include all differences or intersections of the analysed woman/women. To Mohanty, Western feminist scholarship cannot avoid the challenge of situating itself and examining its role in such a global economic and political framework (p.336) Yet, by presenting these perspectives, Mohanty also identify herself as culturally from the West.  Nevertheless, I will probably suggest that the focus of Mahoney on those five specific ways in which “women” as a category of analysis is used in Western feminist discourse on women in the third world illustrates the construction of “Third World Women” as a homogeneous “powerless” group. (p.338). This can serve as a model to future research of what can be avoid when producing scholarly material. To illustrate this, in one of Mohanty’s cases of study  Married Women As Victims of The Colonial Process , one might notice that scholars have analysed the structures of systems that allow the exchange of women in places like Zambia, while ignoring that these systems were adopted during colonisation—in Western societies women were used as an exchange commodity as well. Furthermore, in today’s western societies women have “needs” and “problems” too. So instead of stigmatising a social group from a certain part of the world maybe we, scholars, should start focusing in those social issues that affect all women and not keep on producing women as the Other. In her  Feminist Studies  by Nina Lykke (2010), drawing on Haraway (1991) asserts that, “All  production of knowledge is to be understood as located or situated.” Also, Lykke emphasises that the researcher cannot give an objective depiction of the world out there but produces a story of which she or he is part. Accordingly, in chapter 3, Lykke discusses Butler´s work Gender Trouble (1990), in which Butler problematises the political subject of feminism: the category of women. At this point, Lykke asserts that like Haraway, Butler, and herself are well aware that as researchers  and as political subjects and citizens, always think talk and act in medias res. Therefore, the researcher cannot position outside of the world he or she is analysing and in which we act. (p.33). Further, in the though-provoking essay,  Doing Justice To Someone  (2001) Judith Butler raises interesting questions such are what a person is and what social norms must be honoured and expressed for personhood to be allocated (p.622). To illustrate this, Butler presents the legal and  psychiatric John/Joan case—a person who was determined without difficulty to be a boy at the time of birth, but after his penis got severed during an operation his parents were recommended by John Money, a psychologist specialised in research into sexual identity to raise him as a girl. John then decided to become a man in his teenage years. The John/Joan case was brought to public attention in the early 1990s. This unethical case reminds me of the Vipeholm experiments in the 1940s in 1 Sweden. The Vipeholm experiments used intellectual disabled patients to feed them with large amount of sweets to provoke dental caries to determine whether carbohydrates affected the formation of cavities. The experiment provided extensive knowledge about dental health—one of the practical results of the study was the recommendation of eating sweets once per week, a practice known in Sweden as Lördagsgodis. However, today they are considered to have violated the  principal of medical ethics, as it happened with the John/Joan case. To conclude, the texts by Mohanty and Lykke made me reflect on the texts I analysed before —ranging from conduct books from the Eighteenth century and novels from the time to more modern works like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, a work that reminds us that hegemonic discourses can be harmful to women; and those I could use for an intersectional analysis in the future. Further, Butler’s text resonates with what it is ethical when it comes to research in the name of normalisation.  Anika Agebjörn. (2006). Sugar experiments of mental patients. Retrieved from https://  1  Works Cited Agebjörn, Anika. (2006). Sugar experiments of mental patients. Retrieved from Butler, Judith. (2001). Doing Justice to Someone: Sex Reassignment and Allegories of Transsexuality. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Lykke, Nina (2010). Feminist studies: a guide to intersectional theory, methodology and writing.  New York: Routledge. Mohanty, Chandra T. (1988). Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. Feminist Review
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