12 May 2021

Collins and Bilge—The Applied Focus and Its Discontents

Intersectionality (2016)
Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge
p. 37—"To varying degrees, scholars and practitioners in social work, criminology, public health, law, and education recognize that knowledge production in their respective fields cannot be separated from professional practices. ... Because they straddle scholarship and practice, academic disciplines with a strong clinical or applied focus have been especially receptive to intersectional frameworks. Intersectionality often finds a welcome home in fields that already see theory and practice as interconnected."
The arts (or some version of them) would seem to merit passing mention here, but alas, another example of their failing to register. I tend to think that such conspicuous omissions are informative for artists.

As far as the internal dynamics of particular art practices, the relevance of intersectionality would seem to hinge on a given practice's relationship to notions like personal expression, telling your story, etc.

Certainly the arts also are, to varying degrees, "oriented to public engagement," but of course it is the basest form of this orientation (i.e. marketing) that brings consideration of identity most directly into the dialogue; and to be sure, much ostensibly charitable outreach work deserves to be categorized under the heading of marketing. The basic problem is that class remains a useful catchall vis-a-vis access to the arts, and in a way that the authors specifically deny is the case elsewhere.

[from a post-it, late 2017]

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