This interdisciplinary, graduate-undergraduate seminar, designed for students in anthropology, women’s studies, and related fields, explores contemporary intersectionality theory: namely, how the intersections of race/class/gender and other axes of oppression (e.g., based on age, ethnicity, ability) affect women’s lives and women’s health in the contemporary United States. In this course, recent feminist approaches to intersectionality theory will first be introduced. Then intersectionality will be explored through anthropological ethnographies that highlight the multiple forms of oppression faced by poor women of color in the United States.
In this student-led, feminist reading group, we will think, talk, and write about women’s lives as portrayed in twelve key books. Through this reading group, students in this course will not only gain broad exposure to a number of exigent women’s health issues in the U.S., but will examine the methods of feminist ethnography, policy debates, and the interdisciplinary theorizing of black feminist, medical anthropological, and public health scholars.
In particular, this course will demonstrate how anthropologists studying women’s health issues in the U.S. have contributed to social and feminist theorizing through humanistic engagement in women’s lives. Topics they have highlighted in their work include reproductive and child health disparities; women’s elevated risk in the era of AIDS; the neglected health problems of girls and adolescents; and the social suffering of minority women in a racist, classist, sexist society. Feminist anthropologists have contributed considerably to theoretical debates about women’s agency, oppression, suffering, and resistance to (dis)ease-producing social relations produced by poverty, racism, and patriarchy. By doing so, they have produced a rich corpus of scholarship on minority women’s lives, which complements the theoretical work of black feminist scholars in other disciplines.
Students in this course will be graded on seminar participation, leadership of one seminar discussion, two book reviews, and a final comparative book essay.