‘Doing’ or ‘using’ intersectionality? Opportunities and challenges in incorporating intersectionality into knowledge translation theory and practice
Sibley, Kathryn M.
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Abstract Intersectionality is a widely adopted theoretical orientation in the field of women and gender studies. Intersectionality comes from the work of black feminist scholars and activists. Intersectionality argues identities such as gender, race, sexuality, and other markers of difference intersect and reflect large social structures of oppression and privilege, such as sexism, racism, and heteronormativity. The reach of intersectionality now extends to the fields of public health and knowledge translation. Knowledge translation (KT) is a field of study and practice that aims to synthesize and evaluate research into an evidence base and move that evidence into health care practice. There have been increasing calls to bring gender and other social issues into the field of KT. Yet, as scholars outline, there are few guidelines for incorporating the principles of intersectionality into empirical research. An interdisciplinary, team-based, national health research project in Canada aimed to bring an intersectional lens to the field of knowledge translation. This paper reports on key moments and resulting tensions we experienced through the project, which reflect debates in intersectionality: discomfort with social justice, disciplinary divides, and tokenism. We consider how our project advances intersectionality practice and suggests recommendations for using intersectionality in health research contexts. We argue that while we encountered many challenges, our process and the resulting co-created tools can serve as a valuable starting point and example of how intersectionality can transform fields and practices.