The Good Diversity project is working to develop an intersectional understanding of diversity as a concept for emancipatory diversity strategies.
An intersectional understanding of diversity is based on the interactions and interrelationships among various categories of social injustice. These categories are perceived as powerful attributions within a differential system. The concept of intersectionality is rooted in the black feminism and critical race theory of the English-speaking world. An intersectional approach can open up a critical view of exclusion, discrimination, and societal inequality.
Good Diversity is anti-essentialist and anti-discriminatory, self-reflective, and critical of power.
Anti-essentialist and Anti-discriminatory
The fundamental idea behind the intersectional approach is relevant in various ways, including when considering how offers of diversity measures can be formulated – without imposing rigid definitions on people as a group and reproducing stereotypes. Instead, the idea is to take a critical view of designations and categorizations commonly used in the context of diversity, such as “students from immigrant backgrounds.” These terms may seem neutral, but they also codify exclusions, such as the notion of “not really being German.”
Good Diversity aims to raise awareness of the mechanisms of discrimination at higher education institutions, which is why it takes an anti-essentialist and anti-discriminatory stance.
A Critical View of Power; Self-reflection
With its anti-essentialist basic stance, Good Diversity deliberately stands apart from efforts to celebrate diversity as such, turning its focus instead on the disempowerment of people through discourses of difference, such as when groups or individuals are “essentialized,” or defined, according to diversity-related categories.
Since differential systems are powerful, Good Diversity urges that people reflect on how they relate to differences and categories of difference with a critical view of power. In so doing, Good Diversity follows the basic principle behind intersectionality, that discrimination always occurs in multiple ways – based on the interaction between various categories of social inequality, such as immigration history, gender, social origin, and age.
In practice, Good Diversity therefore requires a self-reflective attitude toward the higher education institution as an organization and the overall conditions for diversity work with an eye to all members of the higher education community and people’s own personal and professional actions.
This perspective can make it possible to reflect critically on relationships of inequality and power within society and to actively work against exclusion and discrimination at higher education institutions.