Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Because This Is Not A Game of Bridge

Between (or I guess, "among") Nubian's place, Alas, A Blog, and Ginmar's A View from Abroad (April 21st and 26th), there has arisen (sorry to use that so soon after Easter:-) a multi-faceted conversation that, from what I can discern, began with Ginmar's proclamation that gender trumps race (in matters of oppression). Some strong arguments and heated comments all around--which is why I provide links; I don't think this should be missed. To be honest, I don't agree with Ginmar. If we're going to talk in the most simplistic terms, I probably lean towards race "trumping" gender, at least in this society. However, even that is unfair and incomplete.

Why?

In the early stages of my dissertation, I assumed that "being black" was the most salient part of the identities of the black women poultry workers I study and that "being black" was the most influential factor in their work experience--both the conditions in which they worked and how they responded to that work. My advisor's carefully worded response: "This may be true in some cases, but in a work of this magnitude, you need to look at black women's position at 'the nexus of an interlocking system of oppression': race, class, and gender."

She's right. Any less-thorough or one-sided analysis leaves much unexplained and misunderstood. I just wanted to share her insight, as, apparently, I am not the only scholar who needs to be looking a bit deeper.

BTW, for a historical point of view, (off the top of my head), I'd recommend Dolores Janiewski or Sharon Harley.

2 comments:

Quinn said...

Your advisor is wicked smaht. I'm dealing with some of these same issues, especially in the one chapter that she sent back to me with a big ole "this needs some more class and gender analysis" stuff. I had thought it was all about race... but the more I dig, the more I see that it's so much more complicated (and interesting!) than that.

Maybe I'm getting all Jackie Jones on us, but class is becoming my big point of emphasis lately.

Elle said...

She is brilliant--with brilliant taste in grad students :-). But the analysis is hard for me in some spots--I still want to look at race and write as if everything flows from there. Lazy Elle.

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