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Do you consider that your work belongs to the field of "political theory", and why (not)? If so, what has drawn you to do political theory and to describe your work as belonging to the field?
Situating my intellectual work within the theoretical landscape of any one academic discipline is difficult. I certainly see Black Feminist Thought (BFT) and Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory (IACST) as works of critical social theory. My path into social theory neither began within a particular academic discipline, nor has it been exclusively claimed by one. My theoretical framework has been influenced by mid-20th century social movements, especially Black freedom struggles. I initially read theoretical work that informed Black politics while I was working as a middle-school teacher and not in the context of a graduate seminar in social theory. For example, I read works such as Franz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, with an eye toward translating their ideas into language that my students could analyse. I also tested such theories by how useful they were for Black social movements. I engaged social theory in the context of political praxis, and the theories that stood out for me were the ones with strong political influence. I have carried this way of reading into how I engage other people's theoretical work as well as the evaluative eye that I apply to my own.
Because my intellectual work has had no comfortable disciplinary or interdisciplinary home within the academy, I developed a working definition of critical social theory that better fits my ecclectic approach…

  • Critical social theory
  • anti-racism
  • intersectionality
  • epistemology
  • resistance
  • violence
Patricia Hill Collins
Patricia Hill Collins is Distinguished University Professor of Sociology Emerita at the University of Maryland, College Park and Professor Emerita of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati. She is the author of ten books, including Black Feminist Thought (Unwin Hyman, 1990; Routledge, 2000) and Black Sexual Politics (Routledge, 2004), both award-winning books, and Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory (Duke University Press, 2019). Dr. Collins has lectured widely in the United States and internationally, holds honorary degrees from several universities and has won numerous professional awards, and has served in many capacities in professional organisations, including as the 2009 President of the American Sociological Association, the first African American woman elected to this position in the organisation's 104-year history.
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