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2021/2022: intersections

It is likely that intersections––historically-rooted intersections, such as between colonialism and the oppression of marginalized communities; brave new intersections, such as between human beings and computers; newly revealed intersections, such as between globalization and viruses; still invisible intersections, such as between quantum particles or within distant dark matter; the intersection of poetry and music and dance and circus and sport and health sciences and engineering; and intersections of numerous other kinds––will confront today’s youngest generation more forcefully than any generation in recent memory, inspiring and even requiring them to rethink old assumptions, to pose challenging questions, to offer fresh perspectives and to develop novel approaches to understanding and living in the world.

Our society is entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era that will be marked by the impact of AI, biotechnology and genomics on human beings, non-human animals and our planet in ways we may not yet even imagine. This scientific and technological revolution is also arriving at a time when the human race is facing urgent global challenges of its own making, from climate change to social, political, economic, and cultural upheavals around the world to the COVID-19 pandemic. These rapidly emerging and changing realities hold the potential to intersect with nearly all aspects of our lives and almost every field of study, giving rise to ambiguities, uncertainties, barbarisms and what American sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom calls the “moral panics of our moment”[1], while also generating new opportunities for creativity, breakthrough, innovation and insight.

Intersections point to what American academic Kimberlé Crenshaw called the “conceptual limitations of . . . single-issue analyses”, in her 1989 paper titled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex”.[2] Crenshaw’s focus was on the intersections between racism, sexism and the law––specifically, on the way the US legal system had not yet recognized the fact that a person can be discriminated against in multiple ways at the same time. (For example, a Black, lesbian, handicapped woman working in a factory can be discriminated against as a Black person, a woman, a lesbian, a handicapped person and a worker.) Our identities, Crenshaw argued, both the ones we assume and the ones that are imposed on us, are “intersectional”, and to deny that intersectionality was to ignore the reality of life in American society at the time.

We can expand Crenshaw’s critique of the “conceptual limitations of . . . single-issue analysis” to explore any area where intersections occur, whether those intersections are coming about for the first time or simply coming to light––intersections between disciplines, professions, societies, cultures, values, humans, quasi-human machines, the
many other creatures and life forms with whom we share the planet, and more. What discoveries and creations might result, for example, from explorations of the intersections between AI and humans, art and technology, biogenetics and human identity, capitalism and nature, the unconscious and conscious mind, among other kinds of inquiry?

In 2020, the World Economic Forum upgraded Creativity from 10th to 3rd on its list of Top 10 skills that will be necessary in the future workforce, with Complex Problem
Solving topping their chart. For the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year, SPACE invites Dawson students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the broader community from across the disciplines to creatively explore the complex nature of INTERSECTIONS by participating in SPACE activities––from attending workshops and events to publishing work on our website to taking part in collaborations and integrated projects to fulfilling the requirements of the new SPACE: Arts and Sciences Certificate––and in the process helping each other to consider the “conceptual limitations of . . . single-issue analyses” and the need for us to reflect on the dynamic intersections that crisscross,
shake, and illuminate our reality.

[1] https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tressie-mcmillan-cottom-on-the-moral-panics-of-our-moment/id1548604447?i=1000516925735

[2] https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/5/20/18542843/intersectionality-conservatism-law-race-gender-discrimination

Above: detail of poster design by Evy Voyatzis, Illustration student, Dawson College.

If you wish to get involved with the SPACE web magazine or events, please contact one of the SPACE coordinators or fellows:

 

Amanda Beattie—Fellow, Fall (Fine Arts)
Nadim Boukhira—Fellow, Fall (Physics)

Andrew Katz—Coordinator, Fall (English)
Joel Trudeau—Coordinator, Fall (Physics)