A detailed report on the Conference of 18th/19th October 2012 in Graz on "Intersectional disadvantage and discrimination - social realities and legal practice" is available in German.
The project Locating Intersetional Discrimination (LID) is financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
. Intersectionality and intersectional discrimination in theory and (legal) practice in Austria and Europe Project information Project team
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The project “Locating Intersectional Discrimination” (LID) adopts an interdisciplinary, theoretical and empirical approach with a focus on practice
The LID project seeks to apply intersectional theory to legal practice in order to both identify and address intersectional discrimination. It aims to show not only that intersectional discrimination as such matters, but also to investigate whether and how intersectional discrimination can currently be addressed by legal systems. It does this by adopting an interdisciplinary approach including both theoretical and empirical research.
Intersectional discrimination is a distinct variety of multidimensional discrimination in which discrimination occurs based on characteristics such as age, sex, race and belief, being combined in such a way as to be mutually constitutive. However, the law does not (fully) reflect this, and legal systems often deal with cases of intersectional discrimination on the basis of a single-ground approach. This means that, insofar as cases of intersectional discrimination appear in legal systems, they are often analysed either as additive discrimination, with each ground treated separately, or presented on the basis of only one ground – the one seen as the strongest – while the other grounds are not included in the claim at all. The intersectional aspect of these claims is thus hidden.
The LID project aims to provide both theoretical and practical tools for identifying multidimensional discrimination in general and intersectional discrimination in particular. Furthermore, the LID project also investigates ways in which existing equality-, equal treatment- and antidiscrimination laws could better cope with the reality of multidimensional discrimination. To this end, the LID project is constructing a tool-box for legal practitioners, developed in conjunction with legal practitioners, to help them address discriminatory structures and practices so that they are better able to provide fair and human-rights compliant remedies to those individuals who are discriminated against on several grounds, be they additive, compound or indivisible.
The project has three parts:
Part I: Clarifying the concept
Part I clarifies the concept of ‘intersectional discrimination’ and its theoretical implications while retaining an awareness of its ultimate legal application. It explains why intersectional discrimination is distinct from other forms of discrimination and provides an accompanying toolbox (for theorists and practitioners alike) on this point.
Part II: Legal analysis
Part II assesses the legal recognition of intersectional discrimination as such. This includes, firstly, an examination of the capacity of existing bodies of anti-discrimination law to both recognize and remedy forms of intersectional discrimination; and, secondly, an analysis of the problem of providing a ‘comparator’ to evidence direct or indirect discrimination in intersectional cases. Again, an accompanying toolbox is provided (toolbox 2).
Part III: Practical relevance
Part III builds upon parts I and II, by empirically examining the practical relevance of intersectional discrimination. This is done by first, establishing a methodologically sensitive access to fields of intersectional discrimination; secondly, by assessing whether and in which paradigmatic forms intersectionality occurs in practice – in both victims’ perceptions and in verifiable discriminatory practices in cases of intersectionality – while, at the same time, identifying crucial obstacles to the practical recognition of intersectional discrimination; and thirdly, by assessing ways in which matters of intersectional discrimination are dealt with in practice, especially in legal practice. In this way the theoretical and legal parts of the LID project are complemented by a practical account that reflects the overall pertinence of the concept of intersectional discrimination.
Karin M. Schmidlechner
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Last update: November 7th, 2012