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2015-16 Theme - Intersections: Breaking Barriers & Binaries


Placing ideas, people, and experiences into categories helps to sort through complex data quickly. These categories, however, can become blinders. The categories foreground similarities and gloss over the nuances and complexities of each individual person, idea, or experience.

The Clayman Institute aims to explore the territory beyond these fixed categories. By investigating the intersections of the defined categories of gender, race, and sexualities, we aim to move beyond the artificial barriers between them, and discover new pathways beyond the black-and-white, binary world of fixed categories.



  1. a feminist theory that seeks to understand how various biological, social, and cultural categories interact on multiple and simultaneous  levels, contributing to systems or forms of oppression, discrimination, and inequality


  1. something (such as a systemic obstacle—e.g. inadequate health care or lack of affordable child care—or social obstacle—e.g. prejudice or individual experiences of discrimination) that prevents or blocks movement toward progress
  2. a law, rule, policy, problem, etc., that makes something difficult or impossible
  3. something that makes it difficult for people to understand each other

binary (system)

  1. a pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning
  2. binary opposition is the system by which, in language and thought, two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set off against one another. It is the contrast between two (seemingly) mutually exclusive terms, such as on and off, up and down, left and right, male and female