Dr. Nancy Lopez Visits as Guest Lecturer

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Sep 15, 2016 - 11:00am

On September 15 UNM Sociology professor Dr. Nancy López, a foremost scholar and activist in the area racial justice, appeared as a guest speaker at the Evaluation Lab.  López presented her research on "street race," which concludes that the identity perceived by others is correlated with health status, and on the myth that socioeconomic status is an adequate proxy for the unequal schooling outcomes for racial minorities.  Both of these projects reflect Lopez' interest in intersectionality, the idea that race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status and other groupings overlap to create many different experiences of power, powerlessness and inequality.

Intersectionality was a new concept for several Fellows, and it had a big impact.  Economics graduate student Alejandra Villalobos remarked that "The first time I heard the concept was a couple weeks back when [another Fellow] mentioned it. Looking up the definition it made sense, but Crenshaw’s* vivid description of what’s missed by only focusing on one dimension and the huge implications to a person’s life experience that are missed by not using the intersectionality lens is simply eye-opening, transformative."  

A central question for the Evaluation Lab is how intersectionality can inform our work.  Dr. López emphasized how crucial it is that peoples' histories and experiences matter and that we must recognize that our partner organizations work with people from unique social locations and cultural histories.  And she encouraged Evaluation Lab Fellows to practice self-reflexivity, a process whereby self-awareness brings unconscious assumptions to light.


*Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1991.  "Mapping the Margins:  Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color." Stanford Law Review 43: 1241-1299.