Transformative Intersectional Collective (TRIC) Updates

exterior of the Gardner Commons building at the University of Utah surrounded by trees with autumn foliage

Transform is currently in year one of implementation of our Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant activities toward the creation of an intersectional studies collective. Read on to see what we’ve been up to and what is coming up.

Year-One Activities

Intersectional teaching is job one.  It’s the prime way to establish thinking as the pathway to doing. 

To this end, we launched our collective plans by creating an in-state cohort of Intersectional Pedagogy Fellows. With Mellon funds, and in special partnership with Utah State University’s Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research, we have gathered 14 scholar-teachers who together represent Utah State University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, and the University of Utah. This group will meet throughout the year as a bonding cohort, joined by other invitees across the U, to attend a set of workshops designed to advance the concept and practice of intersectional teaching.   

As part of Black History Month, we designed and offered a February webinar, Intersectionality Here & Now, featuring scholars Mecca Jamillah Sullivan (Georgetown University), Andrea Baldwin (Virginia Tech University), Christy Glass (Utah State University), and Wanda Pillow (University of Utah). The panel noted that it has been 33 years since Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced “intersectionality” as a necessary analytic for grasping the intersecting impacts of race, gender, and sexuality, and it could be argued, the webinar stated, that no other concept has been more utilized, misunderstood, and maligned in academia and politics.  Intersectionality Here & Now reflected on this history to think with the debates surrounding intersectionality, leading to the question: how are we teaching it so as to practice it?

The intersectional pedagogy workshops that have followed or are planned to take place are:

  • Critical Disability Studies, led by Nirmala Erevelles (University of Alabama), March 24, 2022
  • Intersectional Design and Classroom Approaches, led by Mario Suárez (Utah State University), September 15, 2022
  • Queer and Trans Color of Critique, led by Jules Gill-Peterson (Johns Hopkins University), October 27, 2022
  • Carceral Studies, led by Erin Castro (University of Utah), November 17, 2022
  • Environmental Anti-Racism and Decolonial Justice (Yale University), March 2, 2023

Building a Collective

Central to building a national network are the gatherings of our fellow institutions.  We were excited and deeply honored to hold the inaugural Mellon Summer Institute for Intersectional Studies here at the U, hosted by Transform, on June 7-10, 2022. 

“Intersectional Collectives and Ecologies of Place” was the title of the Institute.  And we were pleased to welcome teams from New York University, the University of Southern California, Georgia State University, University of Virginia, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, along with our team from the University of Utah. 

This first Institute for Intersectional Studies allowed each Mellon-funded team to present key features of its plans and give a detailed sense of institutional/local/regional contexts that pertain to the building of a national network.  Attentive to the lineage of intersectionality as lived reality and critical concept, teams at the Institute broadly explored its ongoing influence and points of debate, while specifically forging praxis-centered strategies that aim to answer: where, when, and how are we doing this concept? How are we teaching it? How are we preparing to make change through it? How can we honor its genealogical emergence via Black feminisms and its new extensions, particularly through community connections? Nestled at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, in a valley of rich Indigenous heritage, still a vital crossroads for rural and urban Native people, along with populations of diverse demographics, a series of thought-and-action exchanges sought to advance these urgent matters.

Talking with others about our ideas, plans, dead ends, adjustments, and wins will remain essential. There can be no network without shared wisdom. To foster conversations in our regional domain, we’re convening a Year-One Sounding Board this year, meeting each semester.  At these sounding sessions, we present our vision; ask for feedback; stimulate back-and-forth discussion; together explore regional connections; and plot the form of our mutual binding.

Our selections center place-driven needs.  We have existing networks we yearn to grow and nurture.  Our connections to our land-grant fellow state school—Utah State University to our north—and our main feeder school (Salt Lake Community College in our city), along with our treasured community work with University Neighborhood Partners and community artists with activist roots, particularly beckon and have shaped our invitations. We have invited key scholars in Indigenous, Pacific Islander, (Afro-)Latinx, Asian, and Black ethnic studies, gender studies, disability studies, and queer/trans studies—from Utah, the intermountain west, the southwest, and beyond—to think with us. 

Members of the Sounding Board confirmed or invited include: the director of the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research at Utah State University (Christy Glass); the provost of Salt Lake Community College (Clifton Sanders); the associate director of University Neighborhood Partners (Paul Kuttner); community artist/activist Jorge Rojas; scholars from the University of Colorado, Boulder (Kristie Soares), University of Texas, Austin (Julie Avril Minich); and two non-regional scholars (Jules Gill-Peterson from Johns Hopkins University and Kēhaulani Kauanui from Wesleyan University); along with U of U Mellon Coordinating Team members (Edmund Fong, Wanda Pillow, Angela Smith, Claudia Geist, Estela Hernandez, and Kathryn Bond Stockton). 

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