Crossroads: Intersectionality in Critical Feminist Research, Practice and Policy

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt's picture
November 3, 2020 to November 4, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Geography, Research and Methodology, Sexuality Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Crossroads: Intersectionality in Critical Feminist Research, Practice

and Policy


An international conference at the Australian National University

Signature Event, 2020, ANU Gender Institute

Also supported by:

Development Policy Centre, ANU


3-4 November 2020

Molonglo Theatre, J.G. Crawford Building, Liversidge Road, ACTON 2601, Canberra, Australia


Today, feminist politics recognises multiple forms of social stratification, such as class, race, indigneity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion and disability as well as gender. 'Intersectionality' was introduced as a name for the ways they combine to create intensified disadvantages and exclusions. As gender mainstreaming has gained momentum, the idea that identities are heterogeneous has also evolved and spread into multiple arenas. Yet, in institutional settings, the term is often watered down: difference is equated with diversity, and  ‘intersectionality’ is utilised as a shorthand for a bland conception of diverse needs and interests.


The growing use of the term ‘intersectionality’ in contemporary research, policy-making and practice creates challenges in a wide range of contexts – from the careers of women in universities and other institutions in the Global North to development research, policies and practices in the Global South. While putting intersectionality at the centre of gender debates enriches awareness of  marginality, the diffusion of the term risks emptying its powerful and specific meaning, and diminishing or instrumentalising feminist politics.


This conference will discuss the meanings of intersectionality in feminist analysis and emerging gender politics. It will consider the power of the concept to advance and deepen feminist thought, and the theoretical and methodological challenges as well as practical implications of translating a sophisticated feminist theory into research, policy-making and practice in all parts of life. We invite everyone interested in intersectionality to participate in discussions with a wide range of actors who are affected by the circulation of the concept, including civil society activists, union-workers, academics, researchers, policy-makers as well as professionals who apply these policies, and development institutions.


We encourage the presenters to address the four broad sets of issues that arise across this spectrum:


  • Experiential – Who is ‘intersectional’? We all have multiple characteristics that make up our identities but the intersections are more likely to be obscured for characteristics that are normative, such as whiteness, maleness and so on. How are intersectional inequalities experienced in different locations and contexts? Does this approach change our understandings of politics or power?


  • Theoretical - The term 'intersectionality' came from practical attempts to show the cumulating impact of gender and race. How does the term work for other structures of inequality such as class and disability? How do subaltern, decolonised or postcolonial perspectives converse with intersectionality? Does intersectionality change our understanding of gender, power and feminism? What further potential does the concept have to advance feminist  thought and social change?


  • Political – How does intersectionality strengthen the mainstreaming of gender in institutions and in policies (such as those about violence against women)?  How does an understanding of intersectionality allow us to imagine feminist solidarities in a globalised world? How do we now understand the ground of feminist solidarity and cooperative action if not through the category ‘women’?


  • Methodological - In today's audit culture there is pressure to turn any policy-relevant concept into a measurable and replicable tool. What has happened to the idea of intersectionality in the world of indicators, and does quantification help or hinder feminist work? What use is currently being made of the term in research and practice? What prospects are there now for combining feminist theories with applied practices without diluting either?


Information for intending participants/presenters

We hope to create interactive platforms such as designated panels for a wide range of participants on topics chosen by you. please nominate the session title, a brief content (length as above) and the names of speakers in that panel. Please send your proposal, written as a few lines of text with a suitable title. Such panels offer opportunities for audience participation with active discussions fecilitated by provocative, short talks offered by panelists reflecting on specific points and questions they have confronted in their areas of work. The proposal should be a short (not more than 250 words) abstract, along with a proposed title, sent as a Word document. Please also send a short (not more than 150 words) bio (or bios of all presenters in that panel) at the same time.


If you would like to deliver an academic paper or a presentation, please also follow the above guides.


All correspondence should be sent to, by 30 May, 2020.


We will be in touch by mid-June with final decision to allow adequate time to plan travel etc.


Organising Committee, ANU

Chair: Associate Professor Fiona Jenkins, Convenor of ANU Gender Institute, and Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory, College of Arts and Social Sciences

Primary Organiser: Professor Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific

Honorary Associate Professor Sally Moyle, ANU Gender Institute

Professor Bina D’Costa, Coral Bell School of Asias-Pacific Affairs, College of Asia and the Pacific

Professor Margaret Jolly, School of Culture, History and Languages, College of asia and the Pacific


Keynote addresses

Professor Raewyn Connell, University of Sydney, Australia

Professor Sirma Bilge, Faculté des arts et des sciences, Département de sociologie, Université de Montréal, Canada

Confirmed Panel Speakers:

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens. NSW.

Ms Celeste Liddle, National Tertiary Education Union

Associate Professor Swati Parashar, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Dr Shakira Hussein, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Sita Venkateswar, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University, New Zealand

Senior Lecturer Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Monash Asia Institute, Monash University



Please pre-register for the conference on ANU’s Gender Institute website. Please register by 15th October, 2020 to avail the following prices.


Participants from outside of ANU – AUD 200 for two days (no single-day registration is available).


Participants from ANU: Staff – AUD 100; Masters & PhD students pay $30.


The conference organizers regret that we do not have funds to offer travel or accommodation assistance.


Information on ANU/Canberra, and some logistics

Established in 1946 under a special Act of the Parliament, The Australian National University is one of the highest-ranking universities in Australia and in the world. In 2011, it established the ANU Gender Institute, which acts as the nodal point that connects all ongoing work on gender and sexuality in research, education and outreach in the university and beyond. It also promotes innovative research and programs to help redress gendered inequalities within the ANU.


Canberra is Australia’s capital city, located about 290 km from Sydney, the nearest large metropolis. The best way to travel is to fly to Sydney and then catch a Murrays or Greyhound bus from Sydney Airport. The three and half hour bus ride is pleasant, and brings you to the heart of Canberra (Jolimont Centre bus station) from where the ANU Campus is less than 2 kilometres away. With its many nature reserves and the nearby ranges, the planned ‘bush capital’ city offers excellent exposure to the compelling beauties of Australian nature. Weather in November is generally pleasant, but please look up the BOM site for latest updates.


There are many hotels, and quite a few AirBNBs and self-serviced apartments available nearby. If you choose to stay within the ANU campus, accommodation is available in the short-stay and self-serviced facility Liversidge Apartments.

Contact Info: 

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Professor, Resource Environment & Development Program

Crawford School of Public Policy

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

The Australian National University

ACT 2601, Australia

Tel: +61 2 6125 4343; +61 409158145


Member, Academic Board, and SAGE Self Assessment Team, ANU.

ARC Discovery Projects on informal, artisanal and small-scale mining; & Farmers of the Future'

YouTube channel

Editor, ACME, International Journal of Critical Geographies; and Ecology, Economy and Society- The INSEE Journal