October 16, 2018

Humility as an Intersectional Practice

Editor’s Note: Judith Rosenbaum is the executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive and a member of HBI’s study group “Dialogues on Feminism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism.” The group discussed many of the issues of this blog in the March 14th session.

Reprinted with permission from the Jewish Women’s Archive. You can read the original article in its entirety here.

L-R: HBI Director Lisa Joffe, JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum, WSRC Scholar Ruth Nemzoff, and University of New Hampshire Professor Marla Brettschneider discuss Feminism, Anti-Zionism, and Anti-Semitism.

By Judith Rosenbaum

I have a love/hate relationship with theory. Sometimes theory is beautiful, describing realities we’ve caught brief glimpses of but haven’t quite been able to wrap our minds around until we had language and structures to capture them. Theory can provide the illumination and clarity that seems to bring order to the universe.

And sometimes theory fails us. It can be too precise, too rigid, too sure of itself. This messy world often resists or challenges our theories, escaping their ideological confines to run roughshod over what we thought we knew.

The messiness of the world and the limits of intersectionality as a theory have re-asserted themselves once again in the events surrounding Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory’s embrace of Louis Farrakhan and refusal to publicly condemn his anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ diatribes. As someone who generally finds insight in the theory of intersectionality—a concept coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the way identity and power structures are always more complicated than we realize—I was saddened and discouraged to see its glaring blindspot when it comes to antisemitism.

To read more, click here.

 

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