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Global Approaches to Intersectionality

Global Approaches to Intersectionality is an ongoing interdisciplinary research project that conducts research into theories of race, gender, class, sexuality, and other intersections of identity in three sites, Rwanda, South Africa, and the United States. The project seeks expressly to decenter the northern bias of theorizing on these topics by engaging in a sustained conversation with intellectuals in southern as well as northern contexts. The project began in September 2011 as a collaborative project with the African Research Center and was conducted through a series of fortnightly reading groups, meetings in person, and by video conference with faculty and graduate students in African and African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Philosophy, and Literature, among other disciplines, at Penn State, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, and Stellenbosch University. The initial three-year collaboration culminated in a conference at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in January 2014 and included co-sponsoring talks at Penn State by Mahmood Mamdani, who has written important works on race, history, and citizenship in Rwanda and South Africa, and Michele Berger, co-editor of The Intersectional Approach. The project is continuing and in December 2014, a one-day workshop was held on campus with Achille Mbembe as the main speaker. Similar events are planned for the academic year 2015-2016, including a workshop with Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall provisionally planned for March 26, 2016.