Collins, Patricia Hill

Collins, Patricia Hill, 1948–, American sociologist and social theorist, b. Philadelphia, Ph.D. Brandeis University, 1984. A noted African-American studies scholar and activist, Collins completed her BA in sociology from Brandeis University in 1969 and MA in teaching from Harvard University in 1970. At Brandeis, Pauli Murray served as an influential advisor. In 1982, Collins joined the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati where she taught for two decades and eventually became a Distinguished Professor of Sociology. In 2005, Collins joined the University of Maryland where she is currently Distinguished University Professor. A social theorist of race, gender, social class, sexuality, and nationality, Collins has written extensively on numerous sociological topics, including standpoint epistemology, matrix of domination, and feminist epistemology. She is considered a major scholar of Black feminist thought and philosophy.

Collins is known for her influential essay, "Learning from the Outsider Within," published in Social Problems in 1986. Although first formally articulated by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, Collins is credited with developing the term intersectionality. Through this concept she has explained how oppression from any single identity cannot be studied in isolation from the network of oppression that functions due to myriad identities. In 1990, she published Black Feminist Thought, which won the Jessie Bernard Award from the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP). In 2008, she became the president of the ASA, the first African-American woman elected to this position in the history of the organization. Throughout her career, Collins has been a key voice as a public sociologist.

Collins has published several books, including, but not limited to, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (1990), Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice (1998), Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (2005), From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism (2006), and Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory (2019).

See A. P. A. Busia and S. M. James, eds., Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women (2005); C. Calhoun, ed., Sociology in America: A History (2008); S. Kim and C. McCann, eds., Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives (3d ed. 2013); P. R. Grzanka, ed., Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers Reader (2018); J. C. Nash, Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality (2018); Z. Luna and W. Pirtle, eds., Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis (2021).

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