Black Feminism and the Polycrisis: Configuring a Novel Solution Space Through Intersectional Methodology

How can we use the unique insights and intersectional methods of Black feminism to respond to the complexities of the contemporary polycrisis?

Black Feminism and the Polycrisis: Configuring a Novel Solution Space Through Intersectional Methodology

How can we use the unique insights and intersectional methods of Black feminism to respond to the complexities of the contemporary polycrisis?


Polycrisis is the word being used to diagnose some of the most important global concerns of our times. The Financial Times designated 2022 “the year of the polycrisis,” and defined polycrisis as the “collective term for interlocking and simultaneous crises of an environmental, geopolitical and economic nature.” While the diagnosis is certainly apt, much of the current analysis of the solution space focuses too narrowly on the consequences of the polycrisis while overlooking the systemic reasons that fuel it in the first place. There is a need for critical interventions and expanded views.

Black feminism has developed tools such as intersectionality which illuminate our world and offer new ways of co-existence. Intersectionality involves thinking about interlocking domains of power - and the way out of polycrisis requires such a multi-perspectival tool that travels in the complexity of relational patterns and systems. In this project, we aim to extend the kaleidoscopic toolbox of Black feminism by spelling out a heuristics for a novel solution space to the polycrisis.

By drawing on intersectional models, we bring a novel “polycritical” and “epistemically polyamorous” approach to the polycrisis. We will work along three dimensions: (1) develop intersectional theory and praxis including Global South perspectives, (2) formulate critical arguments about the polycrisis and its relationship to Europatriarchal systems of domination, and (3) offer concrete, imaginative visions for a better future based on applications of intersectional methodology to the polycrisis.

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Minna Salami
Feminist Author and Social Critic

Minna is a Nigerian-Finnish and Swedish feminist author and social critic. Her research interests include the politics of knowledge production, the progression of feminist theory, and contemporary African thought. Her debut book Sensuous Knowledge has been translated into multiple languages. Minna’s academic background is in Political Science and Gender Studies with a specialization in feminist theory from SOAS, University of London. She sits on the council of The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the boards of The African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University, The Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Sahel, the Emerge network, and is an associate with Perspectiva.

Program Affiliates

  • Ethel-Ruth Tawe

    stayed: 20-26.05.2024

    Ethel-Ruth Tawe is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, curator and creative researcher exploring memory in Africa and its diaspora. Image-making, storytelling, and time-travelling compose the framework of her inquiry. From collage to moving image, Ethel examines space and time-based technologies often from a speculative lens. Her burgeoning curatorial practice took form in an inaugural exhibition titled 'African Ancient Futures', and continues to expand in a myriad of audiovisual experiments. Ethel is recipient of the Magnum Foundation 2022 Counter Histories Grant-Program for her project 'Image Frequency Modulation', which was also recently selected for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2023 DocLab Forum and Black Public Media's BPM+ Fellowship. She is recipient of the 10x10 Photobook 2024 Research Grant for her project 'The Algorithms of Colonial African Photobooks’.

    At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Ethel will produce an art piece responding to the program question: How can we use the unique insights and intersectional methods of Black feminism to respond to the complexities of the contemporary polycrisis?

  • Mazviita Chirimuuta

    Originally trained in neuroscience, Mazviita Chirimuuta is a philosopher at Edinburgh University who writes about the history of ideas behind the mind/brain sciences. Her book on colour vision and perceptual reality, Outside Color, was published by MIT Press in 2015. This was recently followed by a new book, The Brain Abstracted, about the ways that the theories developed in neuroscience are a vast simplification of the underlying complexity of brain, mind and body. She is currently doing research on the biological basis of cognition and the philosophical origins of the AI programme.

    At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Mazviita gave a talk that examines the historical and social context of the invention of computers and AI, machines which, like all other machines, are designed to replicate specific forms of productive labour previously performed by humans or other animals. The process of mechanising thought – the reconfiguration of the concept of intelligence in such a way as affords performance of cognitive tasks by a machine – is akin to other forms of disenchantment that we see at the origin of industrialisation. This presents a challenge to claims for the equivalence of biological and machine intelligence and ultimately provides a reason to be doubtful that artificial general intelligence (AGI) is an imminent possibility.

  • Susan Arndt

    Susan Arndt is Professor of Anglophone Literatures at the University of Bayreuth. After studying German, English and African literature in Berlin and London, she completed her doctorate on feminism in Nigerian literature and orature. After a period as a Research Fellow at St. Antonys College (Oxford), she taught and researched as a research assistant at the Humboldt University in Berlin, the Centre for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin and the Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main. Her research on postcoloniality, feminism and intersectionality takes place within the framework of transcultural literary studies, with a focus on narratives of migration, diversity, whiteness and resistance.

    At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Susan gave a talk about the longevity of racism’s white supremacy, while linking the AfD as fascist party to the völkisch racism of c19/20. in conclusion, she will talk about intersectional solidarity as a mode of intervention.

  • Toni Haastrup

    TONI HAASTRUP is Professor and Chair in Global Politics at the University of Manchester. She earned her PhD in Politics from the University of Edinburgh. With a keen focus on interdisciplinary approaches, Haastrup's research often engages the complexities of global politics, with particular attention to the intersections of gender, race, and power. Her work has not only advanced academic understanding but has also contributed to shaping policy and practice in addressing global challenges.
    Beyond her academic work, she is also deeply committed to supporting the next generation of scholars, fostering a diverse and inclusive academic community. She is a founding member of the African Feminist Collective on Feminist Informed Policies (AfIP Collective).

    At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Toni gave a talk “Is Feminist Peace within Reach?”.

  • Cassandra Ellerbe

    Cassandra Ellerbe is a certified diversity/social justice and specializes in empowerment trainings for Black, migrant and refugee women of color. From 2011-2019 she served as a board member of Eine Welt der Vielfalt e.V. Berlin. She was an academic Fellow at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies (2013-2014) and a network member of the Black Diaspora in Germany Scholars Project funded by the German Research Foundation (2010-2014).
    Along with conducting workshops as a certified diversity trainer in the “World of Difference” method and intercultural communication, Cassandra is currently a guest faculty member at Bard College Berlin and she is a board member of Frauenloop. Cassandra currently also holds the position of Officer for Diversity & Inclusivity for the EU project YUFE: Young Universities for the Future of Europe at University of Bremen.
    She earned her PhD in Comparative Cultural Studies/Anthropology at the University of Ghent, Belgium in 2006.

    At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Cassandra conducted and lead a program workshop.

  • Emilia Roig

    Emilia Roig is the Founder and Executive Director of the Berlin-based Center for Intersectional Justice (CIJ), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting justice, equality and a life free from systemic oppression for all. Her experience growing up in a multiracial Algerian-Jewish-Martinique family in France shaped her commitment and passion for intersectional social justice. Emilia is a faculty member of DePaul University of Chicago's Social Justice Study Abroad Program and has taught graduate and postgraduate courses in Intersectional Theory, Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race Theory, Queer Feminism, and International and European Law at universities across Europe.
    She holds a PhD in Political Science, a Masters of Public Policy and an MBA in International Law. Before her doctorate, she worked extensively on human rights issues at the UN in Tanzania and Uganda, at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Cambodia and at Amnesty International in Germany - and decided to leave the field of "development" to focus on focus on social justice in Europe.

    At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Emilia was the guest speaker for our Monastery Wednesday on “Creating the New Paradigm: deploying the full potential of the great transformation ushered in by Black Feminists”.

  • Shishani Vranckx

    Shishani Vranckx is a singer, songwriter and guitarist with Namibian and Belgian roots, but she grew up mainly in the Netherlands. As a performer she has received numerous awards, including the 'Last Band Standing' (Namibia, 2012) and the singer-songwriter competition Mooie Noten (Netherlands, 2013). She was also a finalist in the Radio France International Discovery Awards (2014). In 2016, Shishani & Namibian Tales quartet won Best World Music Album from Netherlands with their debut album Itaala. She has performed internationally at events such as the Africa Festival in Wurzburg (Germany), Glastonbury Festival (UK), Lake of Stars (Malawi), and in numerous other countries. She is a founder of ARTNAM, advocating for the promotion of Namibian arts, and has written for the Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Music of the World and other platforms such as Music in Africa. Currently she is project coordinator, musician and researcher in the UNESCO funded project 'Namibian Tales - Kalahari Encounters'.

  • Jennifer C Nash

    Jennifer Christine Nash is the Jean Fox O'Barr Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University within its Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

Curatorial Note
Curatorial Note

Marcia Kure, "Shifters and Monarchs. The Series X" (2018). Collage and 23 Karat Gold on Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper. © The Artist. Courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.

Marcia Kure's artworks explore identity, memory, and cultural heritage. Her multidisciplinary practice includes drawing, painting, collage, and installation, reflecting the complexity of her transnational identity. Kure's works interrogate the legacies of colonialism and globalization, as well as the fluidity of cultural boundaries. Through the use of layered imagery and intricate compositions, the artist explores themes of displacement, hybridity, and the politics of representation. Kure incorporates diverse materials, such as found objects and traditional African textiles, to add depth to her work and imbue it with layers of meaning and texture. The juxtaposition of disparate elements invites viewers to engage with the complexities of identity formation in an increasingly interconnected world. Kure's art is distinguished by its sense of urgency and activism, as she addresses issues of social justice and human rights. Her works frequently serve as poignant reflections on the ongoing struggles for liberation and equality, both in Africa and beyond.


PROGRAMS 2023/24

  • Governing the Planetary Commons

    How are the planetary commons to be governed in an ecologically responsible, just, democratic, and resilient way?
    The program "Governing the Planetary Commons: a Focus on the Amazon" examines how to responsibly and sustainably govern crucial Earth systems, using the Amazon Rainforest as an example, and explores different governance models that could work in an ecologically sound, democratic, and resilient way.

    Learn more about the Program

  • Depolarizing Public Debates

    How can we depolarize public debates on socio-ecological transformations?
    The aim of the program „Depolarizing Public Debates“ is to develop tools for reducing polarization in public discussions about socio-ecological issues, engaging with practitioners from journalism, digital platforms, and civil society.

    Learn more about the Program

  • Conceptions of Human Flourishing

    How does a non-materialist conception of human flourishing inform the reformulation of the SDGs in 2030?
    The program „Conceptions of Human Flourishing” explores how different cultures conceive of human flourishing, how the current materialist approach may limit it, and how to redesign the SDGs with a broader, more inclusive view of what human flourishing means.

    Learn more about the Program

  • Reclaiming Common Wealth

    What are pathways, processes and institutional designs for the generation and governance of land commons?
    The program "Reclaiming Common Wealth" explores pathways, processes, and institutional designs for the generation and governance of land commons, aiming to address discontents arising from institutional investments in land, assess theories and concepts of property and value, and establish a repository of the law and institutional design of land commons, with a focus on Commons Public Partnerships.

    Learn more about the Program

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