Intersectionality as theory and method

Human rights adjudication by the European Court of Human Rights

Authored by: Charlotte Helen Skeet

Routledge Handbook of Socio-Legal Theory and Methods

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138592902
eBook ISBN: 9780429952814
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter focuses on intersectionality theory and methodology and draws on practical examples from my own work. Despite one of the early developments of the theory coming from legal analysis by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989), outside the USA it is less often used in legal research than in sociological or political projects. Its relative absence is still particularly noticeable in my area, gender and human rights. The first part of the chapter describes intersectionality theory and charts the development of intersectionality. It also considers different methods that can be used to provide intersectional analysis and discusses its application in the field of human rights. This section argues that failure to address intersectionality in human rights adjudication can lead either to incomplete acknowledgement of discrimination, which compromises future determinations, or even a complete failure to address discrimination. The second part of the chapter shows how intersectionality informed my textual analysis of decisions on claims by visibly Muslim women in the European Court of Human Rights. In particular, I discuss how women experiencing intersectional discrimination find this replicated by the European Court, which deconstructs them as valid rights holders. Finally, there is a recommendation for key readings.

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