On common ground?: feminist theory and critical race studies

Feminist theory and critical race studies have often and long been considered to have separate and incompatible, indeed oppositional histories. This essay hopes to show that they not only share theoretical ground but offer critical interventions in the discourses and practices, both institutionalized and marginalized, of race and gender. This also means that both feminist theory and critical race studies are invested in analyzing the ground of representation, especially as it pertains to how we read literary and cultural texts. This essay will trace the contours of this common ground, highlighting the productive negotiations that have taken place between feminist theory and critical race studies. These interchanges have enabled the formulation of what I will refer to throughout as “feminist critical race studies.” Such a critical studies emerges out of two tendencies within theorizations of race and gender. Over the past fifty years, at least since the era of civil rights and women’s rights struggles in the 1960s, race and gender have been variously represented as being “parallel, “intersecting,” and “overlapping” systems of identity formation that structure social relations. Each of these ways of describing the relationship between race and gender persists in seeing race and gender as separate social systems. Feminist critical race studies challenges this distinctness and instead posits an articulation of race and gender.