“Intersectional theology recognizes that each of us exists in differing relationships to power and hierarchy based on gender, race, class, nation, sexual identity, ability, age, and other forms of social difference” (41). In Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide, authors Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Susan M. Shaw offer a concise and instructive guide on how to pay attention to social location and context in theological reflection that seeks to foster greater social justice. The authors apply Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionalityas analytical matrix to do “theology by questioning assumptions that are rooted in the dominant culture, purposefully pursuing justice, embracing the complexities and contradictions, and refusing to do theology as usual” (16).
Collaboratively written, this book performs what it sets out to teach, impressively weaving together multiple voices and perspectives, and presenting rich and diverse sources accessibly.
Beginning with an introduction to intersectionality, Kim and Shaw explore social location through their own autobiography, highlighting the importance and difference it makes to develop a critical (self)understanding of one’s own intersectional identity in the process of theologizing. Several concepts are explored and interpreted constructively to demonstrate intersectional theological thinking at work—for example, the multiplicity of God, baptism, suffering, biblical interpretation, as well as a chapter on ecclesiology. The authors walk the readers through the different steps and stages of intersectional theological reflection, illustrating with examples and interjecting voices from diverse locations. Some of the deliberation moments elaborated on are, for example, the importance of understanding specific contexts and their histories; how to expand towards both/and thinking; employing power analysis to ideas and their implications; moving from center to margins when emphasizing critical reflection; and maintaining a self-critical stance of one’s own positionality within structure of domination. One strength of this work is the multitude of voices featured, from black liberation theology, womanist and ecowomanist perspectives, queer proposals, Asian conceptualizations, and more.
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About the Reviewer(s):
Heike Peckruhn is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Daemen College.
Date of Review: