Cornelia Goethe Centrum

Angela Davis Guestprofessor 2021: Ann Phoenix

In 2013, the Cornelia Goethe Center for Women’s Studies and the Study of Gender (CGC) established the Angela Davis Guest Professorship in International Gender and Diversity Studies. The Guest Professorship serves to promote international and interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of Gender and Diversity Studies.
The inauguration by its namesake, activist, public intellectual, and scholar Prof. Angela Davis, attracted considerable public attention both nationally and internationally. Following professors Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2015) and Amina Mama (2018), this year’s Angela Davis Guest Professorship will be held by Ann Phoenix.

Prof. Ann Phoenix (University London) at the official opening of GRADE Center Gender

Ann Phoenix is Professor of Psychosocial Studies at the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL). After studying philosophy, economics and psychology, she obtained her PhD in 1991 with a study on mothers under the age of 20. This was followed by a stint as Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University and as Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit at the University of London, until she was appointed Professor of Psychosocial Studies at the Institute of Education, University College London. In 2014, Ann Phoenix was honored with membership in the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of her outstanding scholarly achievements. She has been and continues to be an internationally sought-after visiting professor. With her passion and commitment to critical, empirical, and intersectional research and teaching, Ann Phoenix has inspired scholars and students worldwide.

When Black Lives Matter All Lives Will Matter.

In September 2020, Ann Phoenix published a blog together with graduates from UCL, under the headline “When Black Lives Matter All Lives Will Matter”. The authors make the case for engaging in difficult conversations, taking a stand against systemic racism, acknowledging the diversity of racisms, and reflecting on what decolonization means not only for education but also for the state and society in general. They emphasize that conversations in which Black voices are given space can bridge social divides. But this, they say, requires effort and courage. To bring about lasting change, universities would have to change fundamentally: in terms of students, employees, and curricula. In short, in terms of the entire organization.

Intersectionality Research

For me it’s not possible to think about Black feminism without thinking about intersectionality. Black feminism was an inclusionary project. It was quietly saying, look, we, in our multiplicities are here as well. But it was also saying – this is a mode of thinking, this is a way of understanding the social world.

Ann Phoenix is one of the most internationally prominent scholars in the field of intersectionality studies. The connection between subjectivity and social structures is as central to her work as the intersection of race, gender and class as dimensions of inequality. She expands this intersection from case to case to include further categories relevant to the particular context of inequality. In numerous international research projects and a vast array of publications, Ann Phoenix deals with the topics of motherhood and family, school and racism, childhood and youth, poverty and migration. The connection between intersectionality and Black feminism is a common thread running through her work.

Childhood, poverty, migration

We are all always multiply located, and the different categories to which we belong decentre each other, but always operate together, so that nobody is ever one gender position, one racialised position and so on.

How children cope with challenging family relationships, poverty or relationships shaped by migration is one of the central research questions for Ann Phoenix. For example, she studies children’s ‘language brokering’ –translation services by children that are associated with shifts in power positions and generational relations both within and outside the family. Another focus of her work is gender socialisation, which she believes can only be understood intersectionally. Children learn from an early age that gender differences between Black men and women are different from those between white men and women. Experiences of racism shape and permeate gender differences.

School and Racism, Black Masculinities, Black Femininities.

School and school education function as social place-makers, which is another reason why intersectional studies of everyday school life and its experience are central. Ann Phoenix’s research on Black masculinities shows that Black boys struggle with interaction cultures and a recognisable student habitus negatively impacting their school performance. Black girls, on the other hand, perform better in school, but are often devalued by (white) teachers because their performance of femininity is measured against norms associated with whiteness. Education, according to Ann Phoenix, is structured by complex relations of inequality that differently distribute possibilities and ideas of who we can become.

For more information please go to our website or consult the booklet and the fact sheet concerning this year’s guest professor Ann Phoenix.

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Information on COVID-19

Due to the currently unpredictable developments regarding COVID-19 and the ensuing restriction, the Cornelia Goethe Centrum reserves the right to postpone or cancel events at short notice or to arrange video conferences. Please check again before the events to find out about time, place and format.


Cornelia Goethe Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CGC)
Concept: Bettina Kleiner, Helma Lutz, Marianne Schmidbaur
Coordination: Mandy Gratz

We would like to thank our cooperation partners for the support of the lecture series!