Race and feminist care ethics: intersectionality as method

Raghuram, Parvati (2019). Race and feminist care ethics: intersectionality as method. Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 26(5) pp. 613–637.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2019.1567471


Gender has been the privileged optic through which care ethics has been theorised. However, a long line of theorists has argued that gender intersects with other vectors such as race, class and disability in the social world, including in caring practices. This paper contributes to the emergent literature on intersectionality and care ethics by focusing on how racialised difference affects care practices and therefore care ethics. It argues that slavery and colonialism have underpinned racial hierarchies marking contemporary racialised care encounters. As a result, racially marked people’s skills are often undervalued and their competency questioned even as race becomes an increasingly important difference between who cares and who receives care. Secondly, racial hierarchies in who gets care and what that care looks like can make care so distinctive as to be unrecognisable both to the care giver and those who need care. Lack of care is as productive of subjectivities as care so that care needs simply may not be articulated. Finally, given these differences in what care means, caring can become risky. The paper concludes by suggesting that thinking through intersectionality as method allows us to focus on moments and events where care can become unsettled. Care ethics should learn not only from its successes but also from instances when care has failed. We need a feminist care ethics that responds to the distance and difference that race brings to care. That is the promise of good care.

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