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CFP: Mise Au Point (n°16): Analysing intersectionality in cinema

Analysing intersectionality in cinema.

Circulation of a concept, in France and the United States

A concept coined in 1989 in American law by researcher Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality was initially intended to reflect a blind spot in the apprehension of violence suffered by black American women, exposed to various types of discrimination. Subsequently, the interest of the concept widened to consider the interaction between several forms of domination (gender, sexuality, class relations, age, disability, etc.).

Within the framework of film and media studies, intersectionality has not yet given rise to an exploration of its theoretical and practical possibilities in the specificities of cinema as art but also as an industry. What meanings and uses can we make of the concept of intersectionality within the field of film studies? How does the concept of intersectionality allow the exploration of power relations in film representations but also within the film industry itself, in France and in the United States? This special issue of Mise Au Point intends to question the circulation of the concept of intersectionality, its relevance, and its limits in film studies. By linking film economics, cultural studies, and aesthetic approach, we wish to develop three angles of reflection emblematic of cinema as an art, an industry, and a relationship with different audiences.


The international film industry suffers from an under-representation of women and minorities in front of and behind the camera. Spurred on by the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, many international film festivals have promoted gender equality at the programming level (50/50 collective at the Cannes Film Festival).

In the United States, Warner Bros. is the first major Hollywood film production and distribution company to adopt the "inclusion rider" clause (Stacy Smith), making a change after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2015. What are the consequences of these incentive policies on the functioning of the film industry? What changes does the introduction of quotas bring about in terms of performances? How can we take into account the question of "race" as a sociological concept, when the use of the term remains problematic in France?

  • Economics of cinema and representations

  • Funding, quotas, and positive discrimination

  • Representativeness and economic impact


Film forms can reinforce gender, class, and "race" norms or deconstruct them by offering alternative models (e.g., emancipation of women, sexual, and ethnic minorities). How can the intersectional approach provide new tools for analysing film forms? To what extent does intersectionality allow for the analysis and articulation of social relationships? In what way does this tool offer a new approach for analysing racist, classist, and sexist stereotypes while at the same time proposing anti-stereotypes and counter-stereotypes (Eric Macé, 2007)? Can cinema redefine power relations and counter-hegemonic models?

In the analysis of aesthetics and representations, the question of performance is also central. The language, the tone of voice, and the choice of costumes can mark the belonging to social categories. How can an actor's persona be shaped by these different categories (class, gender, race)?

  • Aesthetics, cultural studies, gender studies, queer studies

  • Realism, choice of actors, and persona (star studies)

  • Construction of the gaze in cinema: "female gaze," "queer gaze," "black gaze"

  • Construction and questioning of stereotypes on screen


The intersectional analysis brings together different cinema experiences and spectator identifications. How can intersectional criticism make noticeable the blind spots of traditional aesthetic criticism, more attached to aesthetic forms than to the sociological component? Intersectionality also questions the legitimacy of actors and actresses' choices for characters belonging to ethnic or sexual minorities. The various receptions of the public can call into question the legitimacy of a performance. Is it possible to embody a dominated character when one belongs to a dominant social class?

This axis could include reception questions between the academic field, film criticism, and the public (ordinary spectators) and militant or anti-feminist receptions under the prism of intersectionality and their impact on the industry.

  • Traditional criticism and amateur criticism (blogs, social networks)

  • Influence of intersectional criticism on film production

  • Critical reception, cultural legitimacy, ethical questions and double reading (Stuart Hall)

  • Differences in reception between France and the United States

  • Films accused of cultural appropriation and white washing ; activist audiences questioning the performance of transgender characters by cisgender actors/actresses, etc..

If you are interested in publishing a paper in English in this special issue of Mise Au Point, please submit your abstract (400 words max.), joined with bibliographic sources and a short biographic note to the address

Special issue coordinated by:

Sabrina Bouarour (Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Héloïse Van Appelghem (Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle)


BUTLER Judith, Trouble dans le genre, Le féminisme et la subversion de l’identité, Editions La Découverte, Paris, 2006.

CHAUVIN Sébastien et JAUNAIT Alexandre, 2015, « L’intersectionnalité contre l’intersection », Raisons politiques, n°2, p. 55-74.

CREMIEUX Anne (dir.), Les minorités dans le cinéma américain, CinémAction n°143, Charles Corlet, Condé-sur-Noireau, 2012.

CRENSHAW Kimberlé Williams, « Cartographies des marges : intersectionnalité, politique de l'identité et violences contre les femmes de couleur », Cahiers du Genre, 2005/2 (n° 39), p. 51-82. URL :

DORLIN Elsa, Sexe, race, classe. Pour une épistémologie de la domination, PUF, Paris, 2009.

DORLIN Elsa, La matrice de la race. Généalogie sexuelle et coloniale de la nation française, La Découverte, Paris, 2006.

DORLIN Elsa, Black Feminism. Anthologie du féminisme africain-américain, 1975-2000, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2008.

DUBOIS Régis, Le cinéma noir américain des années Obama : 2009-2016, LettMotif, La Madeleine, 2017.

DUBOIS Régis, Images du Noir dans le cinéma américain blanc (1980-1995), L’Harmattan, Paris, 1997.

FASSA Farinaz, LEPINARD Eléonore et ROCA I ESCODA Marta (dir.), L’intersectionnalité : enjeux théoriques et politiques, La Dispute, Paris, 2016.

GUERRERO Ed, Framing Blackness. The African-American Image in Film, Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1993.

GUILLAUMIN Colette, L’idéologie raciste. Genèse et langage actuel, Mouton, Paris/La Haye, 1972.

LÉPINARD, Eléonore, “Impossible Intersectionality? French Feminists and the Struggle for Inclusion”, Politics and Gender, vol. 10, n°1, 2014, p. 124-130.

MACE Éric, « Des « minorités visibles » aux néostéréotypes », Journal des anthropologues [En ligne], Hors-série | 2007, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2008, consulté le 30/10/2018.

MASK Mia, Contemporary black American cinema : race, gender and sexuality at the movies, New York ; London : Routledge, 2012.

ROLLET Brigitte, Femmes et Cinéma : sois belle et tais-toi !, Ed. Belin, Paris, 2017.

SMITH Stacy, “The data behind Hollywood’s sexism”, Conférence TEDWomen, octobre 2016,

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