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The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Economic Injustice, and the Social Imagination

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Abstract

This book explores the epistemic side of oppression, focusing on racial and sexual oppression and their interconnections. It elucidates how social insensitivities and imposed silences prevent members of different groups from interacting epistemically in fruitful ways-from listening to each other, learning from each other, and mutually enriching each other's perspectives. Medina's epistemology of resistance offers a contextualist theory of our complicity with epistemic injustices and a social connection model of shared responsibility for improving epistemic conditions of participation in social practices. Through the articulation of a new interactionism and polyphonic contextualism, the book develops a sustained argument about the role of the imagination in mediating social perceptions and interactions. It concludes that only through the cultivation of practices of resistance can we develop a social imagination that can help us become sensitive to the suffering of excluded and stigmatized subjects. Drawing on Feminist Standpoint Theory and Critical Race Theory, this book makes contributions to social epistemology and to recent discussions of testimonial and hermeneutical injustice, epistemic responsibility, counter-performativity, and solidarity in the fight against racism and sexism.

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... Thanks to work by feminist and social epistemologists, there is now widespread philosophical acknowledgment that members of certain social groups can face a distinctive form of epistemic injusticewhat Miranda Fricker (2007) calls a hermeneutical injusticewhen they are prevented from making aspects of their lived experience intelligible, either to themselves or to others. 4 This has proved a powerful insight, which has been applied productively to the experiences of women (Fricker, 2007;Jenkins, 2016;Jackson, 2018), people of colour (Dotson, 2012;Medina, 2013;Anderson, 2017a), people with illnesses or disabilities (Barnes, 2016;Carel and Kidd, 2018;Peña-Guzmán and Reynolds, 2019), and many other groups on the receiving end of society's injustices. 5 Recently, though, Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (2016) has argued that the framework typically used to diagnose experiences of hermeneutical injustice also appears to capture at least some of the communicative difficulties faced by adherents of extremist views. ...
... Of course, that there is a gap in society's collective hermeneutical resources need not entail that an individual has no hermeneutical resources to draw upon in making sense of their distinctive experiences. As has been emphasised in much recent work on hermeneutical injustice, our processes of meaning generation are not exhausted by the dominant processes from which marginalised groups are frequently excluded (Mason, 2011;Dotson, 2012;Medina, 2013;Goetze, 2018). Rather, different communities can and do develop their own hermeneutical resources and expressive tools for interpreting their distinctive social experiences, which may or may not pass into the collective resource. ...
... What we are suggesting, then, is simply that cognitive hermeneutical injustice might partially constitute one of these pathways towards extremism, at least for certain groups and 17 Even if there is reason to think that the marginalised might have a privileged insight into their own situation (Pohlhaus, 2012;Medina, 2013). 18 This is a possibility that Medina also notes in connection with the phenomenon of white ignorance: 'there are cases of white ignorance in which…underprivileged white subjects are unable to understand predicaments they share with racially oppressed subjects…think, for example, of white subjects living under conditions of poverty and being seduced by white ignorance to understand their situation as resulting from illegal immigration' (Medina, 2017, p. 44). ...
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When we encounter extremist rhetoric, we often find it dumbfounding, incredible, or straightforwardly unintelligible. For this reason, it can be tempting to dismiss or ignore it, at least where it is safe to do so. The problem discussed in this paper is that such dismissals may be, at least in certain circumstances, epistemically unjust. Specifically, it appears that recent work on the phenomenon of hermeneutical injustice compels us to accept two unpalatable conclusions: first, that this failure of intelligibility when we encounter extremist rhetoric may be a manifestation of a hermeneutical injustice; and second, that remedying this injustice requires that we ought to become more engaged with and receptive of extremist worldviews. Whilst some theorists might interpret this as a reductio of this framework of epistemic in/justice, we push back against this conclusion. First, we argue that with a suitably amended conception of hermeneutical justice—one that is sensitive to the contextual nature of our hermeneutical responsibilities, and to the difference between understanding a worldview and accepting it—we can bite the bullet and accept that certain extremists are subject to hermeneutical injustice, but without committing ourselves to any unpalatable conclusions about how we ought to remedy these injustices. Second, we argue that bringing the framework of hermeneutical in/justice to bear upon the experience of certain extremists actually provides a new and useful perspective on one of the causes of extremism, and how it might be undermined.
... Sin habla es imposible expresar deseos o creencias y, por tanto, es imposible atribuirles valor o comprender las interpretaciones de la realidad que les subyacen. Esta imposibilidad induce una merma en la economía social de la credibilidad y ésta aumenta la ininteligibilidad recíproca (Medina, 2013). Estos ciclos terminan por producir un círculo vicioso en que la injusticia y la incomprensión se perpetúan y alimentan relaciones sociales en las que predominan las imágenes especulares de la otra, esto es, ideas o representaciones de una misma en las otras personas. ...
... Pero esta diversidad involucra el desacuerdo y, por tanto, la confrontación. Aquí he argumentado que no debemos temer a esto último, ya que sólo si reconocemos el carácter confrontativo del espacio público podremos promover la fricción epistémica (Medina, 2013) que nos permita contemplar las perspectivas diferentes que constituyen nuestra realidad social sin polarizarlas o dicotomizarlas, sin presentarlas como exhaustivas, correctas o mejores que las demás. La idea de fondo en mi planteamiento es que ...
... La idea de arriba expuesta hace eco de la noción de ignorancia activa propuesta porMedina (2013). Este autor dice que ésta es un mecanismo de defensa útil para preservar el estatus quo. 5 Es importante mantener en mente que esta sordera no es necesariamente consciente o voluntaria, pero es, en todos los casos, dañina. ...
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In this manuscript I claim that the search for justice implies a complete reconfiguration of public space and a (radical) transformation of our social relations. I will argue through a negative path, i.e. starting from the comprehension of the experience of injustice. I will focus on the case of epistemic injustice since it illustrates how the unjustified harm it produces is originated in the structure of social relations. To reach my goal I will attempt to bring into a dialogue two different philosophical debates —that which deals with the notion of the public space, and that which discusses epistemic injustice—. This will help me show that epistemology has a fundamental and profound political dimension which needs to be addressed to find better avenues to search and reach (epistemic and otherwise) justice. My main contention is that the possibility of constructing a functional public space depends on recognizing the confrontational character of politics and on not trying to erase the differences that make up society, nor trying to undo them under the idea of a (rational) consensus.
... It suggests that the possibilities of being subjects of knowledge are undermined among people with mental disabilities when they are excluded from quality education. To that extent, epistemic injustice is linked to social injustice, since they are two sides of the same coin (Medina, 2013;Kotzee, 2017). Thus, denying children and adolescents with disabilities access to quality education results in both types of epistemic injustice. ...
... In both cases, we must emphasize that the injustice committed is radically different because, on the one hand, it is the basic ability to enter the community of knowledge that is at stake and, on the other hand, identity prejudice is reinforced by the material exclusion and social rejection that impede entering this community through the creation or maintenance of a social environment that transforms deficiency into disability and handicap. Now that we have reappropriated Fricker's conception of testimonial injustice through the SMD, following Medina (Medina, 2013), we can argue that testimonial injustice is relational, that is, credibility and the very possibility of being credible are not independent of the social position occupied by the subjects, nor are they evaluated in isolation and regardless of their social affiliations. In contrast, this is always a comparative and contrasting process (Medina, 2013). ...
... Now that we have reappropriated Fricker's conception of testimonial injustice through the SMD, following Medina (Medina, 2013), we can argue that testimonial injustice is relational, that is, credibility and the very possibility of being credible are not independent of the social position occupied by the subjects, nor are they evaluated in isolation and regardless of their social affiliations. In contrast, this is always a comparative and contrasting process (Medina, 2013). In our case, it is a comparison and contrast of not only those "normal" students who are attributed an excess of credibility in their learning process compared to the credibility deficit attributed to those with disabilities but also of the relationship between the students with disabilities and their context, since this is what largely determines what can be considered the ability to learn and know as well as what creates the conditions for participation in a community. ...
Article
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This article offers a perspective on inclusive education based on Fricker’s conception of epistemic injustice. What is the relationship between inclusive education and epistemic injustice in the case of students with mental deficiencies? By adapting Fricker’s thesis to this extreme case, epistemic injustice can be explored via the social model of disability (SMD). Accordingly, we propose that epistemic injustice harms the entire educational community and society.
... En adelante centraré mi atención en esta mirada porque es la que mejor refleja el tipo de daño del que están siendo sujeto un número importante de comunidades originarias en el sureste de México con la construcción del Tren Maya. Por otra parte, considero que la dimensión distributiva es bien capturada por la noción de injusticia testimonial (Fricker, 2017) y la opresiva por la de injusticia hermenéutica (Fricker, 2017;Medina, 2013Medina, , 2017, de modo que en lo que sigue me ocuparé exclusivamente de este último tipo de injusticia epistémica. 4 ...
... El primero es el que identifica Fricker, es decir, el que hace referencia a la inhabilidad de producir acciones o aseveraciones inteligibles. El secundario involucra los daños prácticos que resultan de la incapacidad de comprender o ser comprendida, tales como el silenciamiento, la invisibilización, la exclusión de las prácticas de dar y compartir sentidos, etc. Así, nos dice Medina (2013), las personas privilegiadas sufren el daño primario, pero no el secundario: ellas están mal equipadas conceptualmente (carecen de los conceptos o de las nociones adecuadas para comprender ciertas experiencias) y, por tanto, no pueden dar sentido a ciertas cosas, pero éstas son precisamente las expresiones que no quieren comprender, las cosas que les conviene mantener opacas para conservar sus prebendas (p. 109). ...
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Mi propósito es hacer ver que la opresión tiene mecanismos y rostros diversos. Hablaré de la opresión epistémica sobre la cual se expresa y manifiesta la injusticia hermenéutica, esto es, una aflicción que se origina en la imposibilidad de hacerse escuchar, en el súbito descubrimiento de la propia invisibilidad, en la dificultad de explicar cómo comprender una experiencia propia o ajena. Examinaré el caso del Tren Maya para ilustrar esta forma de la injusticia. Será necesario para este último fin conocer (aunque sea mínimamente) la realidad y escuchar los distintos modos en que se vive y se percibe la injusticia real. Si logramos de alguna manera detectar con claridad el tipo de sufrimiento o daño que ella ocasiona podremos producir un diagnóstico de sus causas y combatirlas. La idea entonces es razonar como lo harían los detectives que enfrentan “un resultado al que deben hallarle antecedentes; a partir del delito, reconstruyen lo que pasó previamente” (Villoro 2021). Como ellos que buscan “reconstruir la génesis y establecer el “modus operandi” del criminal” (Subcomandante Galeano, 2015, p. 285), nosotras iremos a la historia del daño para abrir vías de pensamiento que nos lleven a componerla y rutas que nos permitan imaginar cómo detenerlo y anularlo.
... Therefore, our aim in this paper is to draw on the tools of the deliberative systems literature, together with the literature on epistemic injustice (e.g . Fricker 2007;Medina 2013) and various literatures on participation, empowerment and co-creation (Lorenz 2020;Pandya 2012;Chevalier and Buckles 2019;Chilvers and Kearnes 2019), in order to make them explicit. We thereby also respond to the call to introduce more reflexivity in citizen science and to engage in a dialogue with the social sciences and humanities (Mahr et al. 2018; see also Strasser et al. 2019). ...
... In order to unlock the potential of citizen science as one element of deliberative systems, the three functions that Mansbridge et al. (2012) describe-epistemic, ethical, and democratic-need to be kept in mind. To realize these functions, two normative principles can be distinguished: a general notion of inclusivity of citizen science towards all members of society, and a more specific notion of "epistemic justice" that aims at avoiding violating individuals' standing as knowers (Frickel et al. 2010;Medina 2013). ...
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In this paper, we bring together the literature on citizen science and on deliberative democracy and epistemic injustice. We argue that citizen science can be seen as one element of “deliberative systems,” as described by Mansbridge et al. But in order to fulfil its democratic potential, citizen science needs to be attentive to various forms of exclusion and epistemic injustice, as analyzed by Fricker, Medina and others. Moreover, to tap the potentials of citizen science from the perspective of deliberative democracy, it needs to move towards a more empowered approach, in which citizens do not only deliver data points, but also, in invited or uninvited settings, participate in discussions about the goals and implications of research. Integrating citizen science into the deliberative systems approach embeds it in a broader framework of democratic theory and suggests the transmission of certain practical strategies (e.g., randomized sampling). It can also contribute to realism about both the potentials and the limits of citizen science. As part of a deliberative system, citizen science cannot, and need not, be the only place in which reforms are necessary for creating stronger ties between science and society and for aligning science with democratic values.
... Al mismo tiempo, implica una violencia lenta (Nixon, 2011;Davies, 2019) ya que suele ser una violencia gradual difícil de percibir -aunque sea grave-, con efectos retardados que se dispersan en el tiempo y en el espacio, una violencia de desgaste para la víctima que, además, se tiende a nombrar de otra forma, con eufemismos. En el caso de los abusos sexuales en la Iglesia, esa violencia lenta se relaciona con una expansión de las dimensiones de la Iglesia como cultura organizacional, que comparte rasgos de institución total (Goffman, 1961) y de control social informal, que termina produciendo una gran victimización secundaria , ahondada por una falta de respuesta adecuada de una sociedad y unas instituciones estatales que terminan fomentando y manteniendo el clima de injusticia epistémica y hermenéutica (Fricker, 2007;Medina, 2013;Jackson, 2018). Según los testimonios analizados y la extensión de la época en que se producen -como también afirma para el caso austríaco el cardenal C. Schönborn (Pongratz-Lippitt, 2019)-, los abusos sexuales tienen que ver más con las características de la Iglesia como institución total, como opacidad de un sistema cerrado con control sobre las vidas de múltiples personas (en este caso menores), que con la liberación sexual del movimiento de 1968, añadiendo así matices a las palabras del Papa Benedicto XVI y de otros expertos 40 . ...
Chapter
A lo largo de la historia, podemos observar que la pedofilia fue legitimada por algunas culturas. La más conocida fue la griega, que debe ser entendida dentro de su contexto histórico, pues no podemos trasladar el concepto de abuso sexual que utilizamos en la actualidad al mundo helénico. La legitimación de la pedofilia no es por tanto una novedad, sino una comprensión de la sexualidad que vulnera los derechos fundamentales de los menores. Esta legitimación, en la década de los ochenta y noventa del siglo pasado y en la actualidad, fue objeto de estudio y reflexión por parte del Papa Benedicto XVI y sus conclusiones sobre la incidencia de la legitimación de la pedofilia en los abusos sexuales a menores, tanto dentro de la Iglesia como en el resto de la sociedad, han llevado a algunos autores a profundizar sobre esta cuestión. Por ello, hemos analizado la influencia de la revolución sexual de mayo de 1968 en la legitimación o “blanqueamiento de la pedofilia”. A nivel intelectual está más que demostrado cómo algunos intelectuales la han teorizado en libros, artículos y hasta entrevistas en medios de comunicación. La legitimación intelectual tiene como consecuencia la legitimación práctica, y por ello hemos elegido dos realidades muy diferentes en los que se producen los abusos sexuales a menores: la Iglesia Católica y la pedofilia en internet. Puede parecer que estas dos realidades no tienen ningún nexo en común, pero dentro de la formación humana que reciben los candidatos al sacerdocio, o a la vida religiosa, se ha introducido el adecuado uso de las redes sociales, pues se ha detectado que los célibes entre 25 y 40 años en España no hacen un uso adecuado de las mismas. En el caso de la Iglesia Católica, examinaremos la deficiente formación afectiva y sexual que reciben los candidatos al sacerdocio y a la vida religiosa, y que puede provocar no sólo perjuicios para los propios célibes, sino convertirse a su vez en un factor de riesgo alto en sus relaciones tanto con adultos como con menores. Las nuevas tecnologías de la información es el lugar en el que los productores, distribuidores y consumidores de archivos pedófilos han encontrado un santuario donde prácticamente son intocables. Internet es una realidad transversal que afecta a toda la sociedad, y los abusos a menores que se producen en ella pasan muy desapercibidos por un desinterés que muchas veces es un ejercicio de hipocresía, como ocurre por ejemplo con el turismo sexual. Para finalizar hacemos una llamada de atención, tanto a la Iglesia Católica como a toda la sociedad, para que tome consciencia del problema de los abusos sexuales a menores en España, pues estamos ante un problema transversal que requiere el esfuerzo de todos para que esto deje de ser un tema tabú, y que tanto los gobiernos como la Iglesia Católica de una vez tomen todas las medidas de formación, prevención, y respuesta eficiente ante estos actos delictivos
... We use a mutual assistance framework in which people with lived experiences of oppression organize to help each other -facilitate solidarity as a form of resistance (Medina, 2013) and help them to survive the present and build a future without any forms of detention (Davis and Fayter, 2021). Since January 2019, we have recruited and partnered with asylum seekers who expressed interest in abolishing the use of ankle monitors. ...
Presentation
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This APSA Migration & Citizenship Newletter introduces a Symposium on International Human Mobility, guest edited by Rut Bermejo-Casado and Miryam Hazán. Contributors to the symposium include senior and junior scholars in the field, who question old conceptual frameworks for analyzing IHM in the light of the most recent developments around the world.
... Third, it needs to be recognized that technocratic approaches to adaptation are limited and exclude experiences, knowledges, and practices that are essential for ensuring robust adaptive interventions, in general as well as for Indigenous communities. This requires adopting a sense of epistemic humility (Kidd 2017;Fricker 2003;Medina 2013). Epistemic humility is the idea that we are always limited in what we can know given the contextual nature of how knowledge is acquired and that we should therefore not assume that we can understand the experiences of other people. ...
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Indigenous peoples are disproportionally vulnerable to climate change. At the same time, they possess valuable knowledge for fair and sustainable climate adaptation planning and policymaking. Yet Indigenous peoples and knowledges are often excluded from or underrepresented within adaptation plans and policies. In this paper we ask whether the concept of epistemic injustice can be applied to the context of climate adaptation and the underrepresentation of Indigenous knowledges within adaptation policies and strategies. In recent years, the concept of epistemic injustice has gained prominence, indicating that someone has been unfairly discriminated against in their capacity as a knower (Fricker 2007, 1). We argue that many climate adaptation policies are epistemically unjust towards Indigenous peoples because of the underrepresentation of Indigenous knowledges by showing how the case of Indigenous knowledges in climate adaptation planning and policy satisfies five conditions of epistemic injustice. We further consider what challenges there are to integrating local and Indigenous knowledges within development in general, and climate adaptation strategies in particular and how these can be addressed. Whether the lack of Indigenous knowledges in climate adaptation policies constitutes an epistemic injustice matters because an injustice denotes an unfair (dis)advantage to one group – whether by design or default – that ought to be remedied and redressed.
... Specifically, these conditions produce profoundly consequential epistemic deficiencies, accruing through epistemic arrogance, epistemic laziness, and closemindedness (Medina 2013). José Medina's The Epistemology of Resistance (2013) provides a sense of how asymmetrical power relations can result in situations where powerful assemblages are especially vulnerable to epistemic vices. ...
... Ultimately, my goal is to frame the question of whether the conventions of the crime fiction genre can appropriately be used for the advocacy of those placed in situations of high vulnerability and to overcome western readers' prejudices rooted in white privilege that circulate negative affects of hatred and fear against racialised bodies or that facilitate numbness to others' suffering. I conclude that Khan's deployment of the crime genre and the "disobedient gaze" she casts in this novel aims to undo the epistemology of ignorance (Sullivan and Tuana 2007) that often underpins racial and gender oppression and to further establish new "affective economies" ) that help us imagine an alternative epistemology of resistance to deeply entrenched forms of normalised injustice (Medina 2012 Greek islands, camps meant to accommodate only a few thousand filled with inmates way beyond their original capacity. Viewers around the world were shocked by mass-media circulated images of the appalling sanitary conditions in the camps, while the cost of innocent lives in transit towards more secure parts of the world was made evident in 2015 by the picture of Syrian three-year-old Alan Kurdi, dead on Turkey's shore. ...
Book
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This Open Access book considers the cultural representation of gender violence, vulnerability and resistance with a focus on the transnational dimension of our contemporary visual and literary cultures in English. Contributors address concepts such as vulnerability, resilience, precarity and resistance in the Anglophone world through an analysis of memoirs, films, TV series, and crime and literary fiction across India, Ireland, Canada, Australia, the US, and the UK. Chapters explore literary and media displays of precarious conditions to examine whether these are exacerbated when intersecting with gender and ethnic identities, thus resulting in structural forms of vulnerability that generate and justify oppression, as well as forms of individual or collective resistance and/or resilience. Substantial insights are drawn from Animal Studies, Critical Race Studies, Human Rights Studies, Post-Humanism and Postcolonialism. This book will be of interest to scholars in Gender Studies, Media Studies, Sociology, Culture, Literature and History.
... Ultimately, my goal is to frame the question of whether the conventions of the crime fiction genre can appropriately be used for the advocacy of those placed in situations of high vulnerability and to overcome western readers' prejudices rooted in white privilege that circulate negative affects of hatred and fear against racialised bodies or that facilitate numbness to others' suffering. I conclude that Khan's deployment of the crime genre and the "disobedient gaze" she casts in this novel aims to undo the epistemology of ignorance (Sullivan and Tuana 2007) that often underpins racial and gender oppression and to further establish new "affective economies" ) that help us imagine an alternative epistemology of resistance to deeply entrenched forms of normalised injustice (Medina 2012 Greek islands, camps meant to accommodate only a few thousand filled with inmates way beyond their original capacity. Viewers around the world were shocked by mass-media circulated images of the appalling sanitary conditions in the camps, while the cost of innocent lives in transit towards more secure parts of the world was made evident in 2015 by the picture of Syrian three-year-old Alan Kurdi, dead on Turkey's shore. ...
Chapter
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This chapter explores Ausma Zehanat Khan’s fourth police procedural, A Dangerous Crossing (2018), as an example of human rights fiction that casts a “disobedient gaze” on the current global refugee situation. Using the conventions of the crime genre, the novel manages to provide a detailed analysis of the gender vulnerability of Syrian refugees stranded in Greek camps and mobilises a transformative kind of empathy by drawing alternative affective economies that help readers expand the limit of our imagination. The chapter argues that Khan’s refugee advocacy rests on envisioning the human within those who are depicted as nonhuman in media and political descriptions of forced migration in the context of increased border securitisation.
... I argue that no single approach contains all the components required to defend the liberal tradition of government arts funding in the post-war era. However, I argue that Nussbaum's (1997) defence of the civic value of art, although it is focussed on literature, alerts us to a new and particularly promising strategy, on which an artistic culture is conceived as providing opportunities to contribute to and draw upon "shared hermeneutical resources" (Fricker 2007;Medina 2013). ...
Thesis
Government funding of the arts has been a common feature of liberal democracies in the post-war era, but it has rarely escaped controversy. Some liberal political philosophers have argued that public arts funding is suspect, because it gives privileged support to some conceptions of the good, namely, those in which art is considered essential (Rawls 1999), or at least certain genres of it, such as Christian art (Brighouse 1995). Another criticism, common in public debate (but less explored in political philosophy) states that arts institutions are unacceptably elitist, in that they pander to niche aesthetic tastes or perpetuate an elite social caste. This work aims to clarify these objections – (1) Neutrality, and (2) Elitism – and to develop and defend new approach to defending the public funding of the arts which overcomes them in a manner which other justifications do not. I argue that the best way to justify government funding of the arts is by appealing to cognitive benefits which arise from living in a society with a government-funded arts sector. These are benefits of self-understanding, empathy and imagination, and the ability to be better understood by others. The first two chapters motivate and clarify the Neutrality and Elitism objections. The third chapter introduces a framework for assessing possible justifications for government funding of the arts against these objections. I argue that Nussbaum’s (1997) defence of the civic value of art alerts us to particularly promising strategy, on which public arts funding makes significant contributions to our shared tools for interpreting experiences, cultural histories, and worldviews, inter alia. The final chapter is given to developing and defending this view, which I call Art Cognitivism.
... For decolonial-compatible perspectives on the epistemologies of White ignorance and the causal role of race in not knowing, seeMills (2007); for epistemic culpability and injustice, seeMedina (2013) and other critical race theorists. ...
Article
The purported goal of social science research is to develop approaches and applications to the psychological study of social issues that allow us to know, accurately and inclusively, the lived experiences of all human beings. However, our current theoretical and methodological tools, while perceived as “objective,” were founded on ahistorical and context‐eliminating perspectives that privilege research designs and analytic strategies that reflect biased racial reasoning with roots in European colonial knowledge formations. By analyzing how the language of “rigor” is deployed within specific instances of social science research, we assert that it is conceptualized and operationalized to maintain a Eurocentric worldview and conception of the “human.” In exploring the ways that the language of “rigor” furthers a European conception of knowledge production as normative, this manuscript provides a critical analysis that seeks to redress ongoing epistemic colonial violence by decolonizing a key term in psychological scholarship.
... It entails a conscious effort to de-occupy representational space in ways that do not merely leave it vacant for further colonial exploitation, but instead facilitate and amplify decolonial work by scholars from more marginalized circumstances. Along with conscious cultivation of epistemic humility (Medina, 2013) or epistemic modesty (Teo, 2019), this variety of refusal provides an important foundation for a decolonial attitude in the psychological study of social issues. ...
Article
This article provides a conceptual introduction to the second installment of a two‐issue collection of work on decolonial approaches to the psychological study of social issues. Whereas papers in the first installment consider decoloniality as a social issue for psychological study, papers in this second installment consider psychology as a site for decolonial analysis. In this article, we briefly review key concepts from decolonial theory (e.g., the coloniality of modernity, distinct from historical colonialism). We then discuss manifestations of epistemic violence in hegemonic psychology that require intervention. Epistemic violence is (not merely) a matter of epistemic exclusion of racialized others from the knowledge production process, imperialist imposition of white‐washed knowledge products as universal standards without regard to context, or pathologizing forms of explanation that construct racial others as deviants in light of white‐washed standards (i.e., epistemological violence; Teo, 2010). In addition, epistemic violence in psychology includes forms of harm (e.g., zero‐point epistemology and individualist lifeways) associated with its modern/colonial roots. Accordingly, a decolonial approach to the psychological study of social issues may require refusal of the discipline of psychology.
... And you can teach others. (Karaka) Theme three: Mātauranga 'Mātauranga', relating to 'a knowledgeable person' (Royal 2009, p. 9), refers to the concept of epistemic credibility (Fricker 2007;Medina 2013). Mokopuna talked about who 'counted' as a knower in terms of whose knowledge was considered valid, reliable, and credible, that Māori of all ages are knowledge holders and experts of their own lives. ...
... Long ignored in the social sciences, the civic engagement of women who carry the stigma of being poor and members of ethnoracial minorities is beginning to be the subject of investigation. Over the past decade, research has developed that proposes thinking together about gender, race, and class oppressions in order to explore the intertwining of different power relations, under the influence of American Black feminism, subaltern studies, and theories of intersectionality (Medina, 2013). ...
Article
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While disadvantaged neighborhoods are often seen as “political deserts,” discreet mobilizations of young people rooted in everyday practices can be observed on the issue of discrimination. Within small groups of loosely collaborating individuals, they develop a mix of sociability, mutual aid to “get by in life,” and awareness raising on social and racial inequalities. Observing these kinds of informal participation practices gives us information on the repertoires of contention of the powerless. The ethnography of an association named Zonzon 93, founded by racialized young people in Villepinte, in the far suburbs of Paris, contributes to the understanding of informal participation in a French context which restrains the politicization process on discrimination. These young people sometimes organize visible collective activities, but their mobilizations remain discreet as they do not display a militant message and articulate small acts embedded in daily life and public spaces, very cautiously. Contrasting with activism, the political dimension is implicit in these discreet mobilizations and is built in the process of doing things together, experimenting and sharing with others activities to express a gentle resistance against stigmatization. The power of identification with a leader, the attention given to the personal narrative, and the democratic dimension of “doing things together” in informal practices are the main conditions of emergence of discreet mobilizations. They ultimately appear as a substrate for consciousness of discrimination and could fuel potential social movements.
... Second, what dominant knowers should do individually or structurally (Fricker, 2007;Anderson, 2012, Alfano, 2015. Finally, the capabilities of the oppressed (Pohlhaus, 2012;Medina, 2013 When hermeneutical injustice is in place, says Fricker, the victim 'cannot properly comprehend her own experience, let alone render it communicatively intelligible to others' (Fricker 2007: 6). Although both types of epistemic injustice are differentiable wrongdoings whose rectification demands different answers, phenomenologically hermeneutic injustice may frequently imply a variety of testimonial injustice. ...
... Resistance to indoctrination can be also considered to be an activity that implicitly or explicitly questions educational impositions. In this sense, resistance to indoctrination is normative in the same way as Medina's (2013) epistemology of resistance, for whom, [resistance] can feel more like being pulled in different directions from the inside, like being torn from within. Experiencing resistance can often be like feeling a rupture that one does not know what to do with (at least initially), like feeling perplexed. ...
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This study discusses International Baccalaureate schools in Poland from the perspective of their educational function to serve as a resistance to counterbalance trends toward nationalisation in the Polish educational landscape. To address this aim, a review of the relevant legislation has been carried out, accompanied by interviews with teachers and students from 9 IB schools in Poland. Results show that during the 30-year history of IB in Poland, international schools seem to have become places where international education is not opposed to its national education programme, however, they do demonstrate their potential to break away from intra-national education in this country. IB programmes have come to represent a counter-revolutionary force that supports grassroots initiatives in schools. International schools potentially remain safe from any authoritarian interference from the government and become 'islands of educational resistance' against intra-national tendencies in education. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Bajo esta concepción social y normativa de lo que es el pensamiento crítico, la contribución más crucial para el desarrollo del mismo tampoco viene de la mano de la filosofía necesariamente. De hecho, en ocasiones las virtudes que desarrollamos en nuestros modos de razonar van a estar estrechamente ligadas no tanto a cuál sea la disciplina de nuestra especialidad, sino a cuál sea el nodo socio-normativo que ocupamos (Medina 2013). No obstante, sí que hay una aportación genuinamente filosófica, de análisis conceptual fundamentado en nuestra mejor evidencia empírica y en la intuición de hablantes competentes de un lenguaje, que puede hacerse con respecto a esta cuestión. ...
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El propósito de este artículo es desarrollar una opinión extraordinariamente poco popular que nos parece, sin embargo, obvia-mente verdadera: el pensamiento crítico no es patrimonio exclusivo de la filosofía; probablemente ni siquiera es la filosofía la disciplina de la que cabe esperarse la contribución más crucial al desarrollo del pensamiento crítico. Sin embargo, la tesis principal de este trabajo no es negativa. Por el contrario, defendemos que, desde una perspectiva no individualista, la filosofía hace una contribución genuina al pensamiento crítico a través del estudio del desacuerdo, una que permite la aparición de "desacuerdos cuidados". Un desacuerdo es cuidado cuando contribuye a que las partes involucradas en una disputa juzguen conjuntamente. En este sentido, como en otros, la filosofía sí contribuye al desarrollo del pensamiento crítico. El alcance de esta contribución, pensamos, solo puede verse cuando se presta atención a los detalles.
... 2; see, e.g., Harding 2012, 62, fn.2;Wylie 2012a, 63). 23 For very similar assertions on the part of a range of groups deemed to be marginalized and oppressed, see, e.g., Ashton (2020, 332-334), De Lauretis (1990, Harding (1991Harding ( , 124-125, 131-132, 2015, Hartsock (1983Hartsock ( , 285, 1989Hartsock ( , 27, 1998, Intemann (2010, 788-789), Medina (2013), Narayan (2004, 221), and Wylie (2003Wylie ( , 63, 2012a. 24 Although some formulations are not entirely clear in this respect. ...
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One of the most widely agreed-upon tenets of the current “postpositivist” consensus in sociological theory is the categorical dismissal of the pursuit of value neutrality in the social and natural sciences, a pursuit that is seen as both futile and undesirable. This dismissal is based on the rejection of the “positivist” claim that mainstream scientific knowledge is in some sense more objectively valid than other forms of knowledge. But this results in a “bias paradox:” on what basis can those denying the possibility of any value-neutral knowledge still claim validity for their own knowledge claims? In this paper, we analyze a series of attempts, broadly going under the label of “standpoint theory,” to resolve the paradox. We show how each of these is seriously flawed and that efforts to repair those flaws have merely led to a covert return to the kind of “positivism” the authors claim to reject. We conclude that this is the result of the persistent failure of “critical” theorists of various stripes to recognize the fact that the “positivist” ideals of value neutrality and objectivity embody the very principles of egalitarianism and democracy they claim to subscribe to.
... Catholic solidarity is grounded in the universal humanity found equally within all of God's children. However, secular philosophers have also defended conceptions of universalist human solidarity as expressed in feelings of caring for and standing with others across national borders (Gould, 2004(Gould, , 2007, of the mutual expectations and responsibility-taking across social difference (Dean, 1996), a relationship of empathetic understanding to be extended as far as practical limits allow, even to non-human animals (Harvey, 2007), and a radical openness to acknowledging indefinitely many diverse perspectives (Medina, 2013). ...
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I propose a new concept of solidarity, which I call “solidarity from below,” that highlights an aspect of solidarity widely recognized in popular uses of the term, but which has hitherto been neglected in the philosophical literature. Solidarity from below is the collective ability of otherwise powerless people to organize themselves for transformative social change. I situate this concept with respect to four distinct but intertwined questions that have motivated extant theorizing about solidarity. I explain what it means to conceptualize solidarity from below as a form of power, rather than as a feeling, disposition, duty, or scheme of social arrangements. Finally, I suggest that the moral-relational aspects of solidarity emerge secondarily from the process of collective power, and not the other way around.
... Second, what was at stake in Miller's case-rape and the kind of trauma and psychological damage it often inflicts on its victims-is thought by many of us to be a systematic injustice, a 31 Others have discussed epistemic injustice in the psychiatric context, but not in this way. Scrutton (2017) discusses a distinct but related question about epistemic injustice and mental health care; Carel and Kidd (2020) apply Medina's (2012) ideas about predicaments and epistemic injustice to make a related argument about epistemic injustice and illness more generally. Crighton et al. (2017) give an analysis of epistemic injustice in psychiatric contexts, but again, their cases, and focus, are distinct from minethough might result in a similar threat to an agent's metaepistemic attitudes (e.g. ...
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... Academia can be plagued with what might be termed the vice of 'insensitivity' or being 'cognitively and affectively numbed to the lives of others' (Medina 2012). This vice means that, usually, epistemically advantaged people are inattentive to, unconcerned with, or disparaging of the experiences, problems, and aspirations of the disadvantaged or disfavoured. ...
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Thesis
Storied Icebergs seeks to understand how, in the context of story(telling), Qallunaat knowledge production about the Canadian North might be decolonised. Inspired by Tiffany Lethabo King’s The Black Shoals (2019), this dissertation uses the iceberg as a critical terrain upon which to both interrogate the coloniality of Qallunaat knowledge production and comprehend the decolonial possibilities of story(telling). Inuit hi/stories are positioned as storied icebergs that are capable of slowing, disrupting, and transcending the hegemonic order of knowledge production. Storied Icebergs is divided into two sections. The first section addresses the disruptive potential of the storied icebergs hermeneutic. As impediments to plain sailing, storied icebergs can slow and interrupt the normative movement of the vessel of colonial knowledge production about the Canadian North. This argument is substantiated through a pointed focus on the ways in which Inuit hi/stories of Sir John Franklin’s fatal disaster have repeatedly ruptured the dominant narrative of his demise. Storied icebergs can throw Qallunaat thinking overboard; they can force Qallunaat to contend with epistemologies that exceed (settler) colonialism. In this sense, storied icebergs index possibilities for radical transformation. The second section builds on this to argue that storied icebergs do more than disrupt, they are themselves floating formations of decolonial knowledge production Canadian North. Through a poetics of storied icebergs, this section shows how storied expressions of Inuit reclamation and resurgence can reorient Qallunaat knowledge systems towards modes of thought beyond coloniality. Fundamentally, Storied Icebergs seeks to contribute to restor(y)ing epistemic relations between Qallunaat, Inuit, and the Canadian North in pursuit of a decolonial future.
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Background/Context For educators committed to unraveling racism and colonial bias in world history courses, challenges persist—particularly with Indigenous peoples and knowledges. Typical history curriculum, standards, and instructional tools misrepresent Indigenous peoples and knowledges in damaging and inaccurate ways. In cities, where Indigenous peoples and the natural world are often presumed distant, teachers may especially struggle to disrupt these patterns. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study This study explores the efforts of two experienced urban secondary teachers nominated by local Indigenous educators, asking: How do teachers craft globally-oriented history instruction that engages Indigenous knowledges in historical inquiry? Population/Participants/Subjects Both participants were experienced social studies teachers in or near West Coast cities, in public schools with strong racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity. Julie (a white woman in her late 50s) taught in a small alternative middle school, while Teacher X (a Xicano/Latino man in his early 40s) taught in a large comprehensive high school. Research Design This qualitative comparative case study relied on teacher interviews, class observations, and document analysis. Student and colleague interviews supported triangulation. Findings/Results Findings indicate three teaching practices for desettling expectations (Bang et al., 2012) in historical inquiry: (1) strengthening context for Indigenous knowledges and sovereignty to counter colonial patterns of erasure; (2) using historiographical counter-narratives to show how interpretations of history are situated in colonial power relations; and (3) offering experiential and place-based learning with Indigenous knowledges beyond the classroom. Although both teachers worked to desettle expectations in these ways, only one showed consistency with centering Indigenous knowledges in observed practice. Conclusions/Recommendations Personal resonance with relational and place-based learning appears crucial for teaching Indigenous historical perspectives meaningfully, which may prove challenging for teachers who identify as “urban” in ways perceived as distant from the natural world. Combined with the three practices above, teachers’ ongoing, reciprocal relationships with Indigenous peoples and homelands shaped their effectiveness in engaging Indigenous knowledges as valid and generative for historical inquiry, offering implications for practitioners and scholars in global historical inquiry and teacher education.
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In this paper, the term “qualifying disqualification” is introduced to express an intersection of several different types of power that (in a Foucauldian terminology) are differentiated as disciplinary, sovereign, and biopolitical formations. The paper concurs with a viewpoint that has emerged in much post-Foucauldian scholarship that these should not be understood as replacing each other in a historically emerging, linear succession. The resulting question is how to interpret instances of their convergence and intersection – for example, are they best understood as mutually consolidating (as seen in some understandings of domination)? The paper points to the friction caused by a simultaneity of heterogeneous formations of power given that they are understood to “subjectivise” differently. In turn, different understandings and conducts of “capacity” and “qualification” correspond to those differences in addition to different techniques of inclusion, exclusion, and exception. “Qualifying disqualification” is proposed as a terminology to express this friction. The fields in which its implications are explored include critical race studies (particularly the work of Saidiya Hartman), “capacity”-based rights arguments, and new interpretations of power in the work of Foucault, particularly as theorised in his Collège de France lectures.
Chapter
Building on Giorgio Agamben’s concerns about the transformations taking place in the name of health and biosecurity, this chapter characterizes an emerging matrix of power, and more specifically the logic of temporality that accompanies it. This logic—the meantime—is an ideological and temporal formation of late capitalism that offers the future as nothing other than an extension of the present. The author considers the significance of Agamben's concept of the state of exception for our current moment, and supplements his insights with decolonial perspectives in order to better understand how the meantime devastates the political imagination and fashions subjective figures that are both tethered to and severed from the present. Finally, the chapter concludes by considering what it might involve to exit the meantime. Specifically, the author focuses on exit as a crucial component of pedagogical praxis within, against, and beyond the meantime, and calls for attention to the rhythms of exit, and thus also the rhythms of exopedagogy and exo-exopedagogy.
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This article aims to problematize individualistic strategies developed in western institutions to address violence against women and suggests more collective responses that engage refugee men. The data comes from a qualitative research project in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Thirty-one interviews with frontline workers from domestic violence and refugee settlement organizations reveal dissenting voices that challenge the hegemony of dominant groups who either advocate gender equality or overemphasize cultural differences. These dissenting voices suggest new knowledge being mobilized by refugees and associated communities, presenting opportunities for nongovernmental organizations and community groups to find ways to align across their differences toward a common goal.
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In recent years, the repercussions of disruptive technologies have recalibrated many of the edges of the national legal systems. The fact that several provisions of the legislation resort to digital technologies to guarantee the deployment of essential freedoms (such as the right to information) does not necessarily translate into an understanding of their effects on daily life, nor on the development of indispensable capacities to take advantage of its benefits (without the loss of some type of agency). Therefore, being immersed in a digital culture, and in a broad informative legal framework, does not imply that the sectors and communities of society have an understanding of the requirements that this digitality seems to impose for the enjoyment of their rights, as epistemic agents that seek, process and transmit information. To freely deploy our essential faculties, and to fully enjoy our freedoms, it is vital to become digitally literate. In order to articulate the full exercise of the right to information with the faculties that digital literacy integrates, a more robust theorizing is needed that helps to discern between digital processes and informative processes, namely, a digital epistemology that helps to understand how it is that the digital dimension influences the understanding of the informative dimension.
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The metaphysics of sex and gender is of significant philosophical, social, and cultural interest at present. Terms like transgender and cisgender have come into wider circulation in the fight for gender justice. While many are familiar with ‘transgender’, fewer know ‘cisgender’, the term that captures AFAB‐women (assigned ‘female’ at birth‐women) and AMAB‐men. But ‘cisgender’ is controversial to some, which I find surprising. In this article, I reflect on my process of recognising my self as cisgender. During, I highlight the ethico‐political consequences of refusing the onto‐epistemic category ‘cisgender’. I shall argue that uptake of ‘cisgender’ and apprenticeship to trans texts uncovers how we maintain, and might purposefully disturb, queer/cis‐hetero, man/woman/other hierarchies of social identity power. I argue this self‐recognition is a crucial tool for challenging ‘cisgender commonsense’ and may be a means toward dislodging ciscentrism in my (western, Anglophone) milieu.
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This study claims that Miranda Fricker’s concept of epistemic injustice can be extended in two ways. First, the excess of credibility can be evaluated as an epistemic injustice. Fricker suggests that a deflated level of credibility causes epistemic injustice. However, practices such as forcing false statements result from excess credibility and cause epistemic injustices especially during war and detention processes. In some hierarchical situations, social actors’ hearer and speaker roles may turn into a hegemonic relationship by suggesting that the speaker has knowledge. This kind of relationship motivates exclusion, marginalization and alienation due to identity bias. Then, it can be argued that not only the lack of credibility but also its excess is an epistemic injustice. In this study, the excess of credibility is accepted as the situation faced by “people who are interrogated with the claim of having knowledge.” Second, epistemic injustice can be defined as a hybrid evil. It refers to instances of evil that contain complex motivations such as political evil, since it can neither be reduced only to the character nor to the environmental conditions. Fricker’s proposal for resolving epistemic injustice is hybrid virtues such as intellectual and reflexive critical-social sensitivity. Therefore, while individuals’ situations and context provide reflexive thinking, they also support a normative critical attitude. Fricker offers hybrid virtues for the solution while she does not define the problem as hybrid. Thus this paper proposes to extend Fricker’s concept in two ways: first, including excess of credibility within the scope of the epistemic injustice, and second, defining such injustices as political hybrid evils. Then this expansion will give political epistemology an opportunity to reevaluate given theories of politics, ethics and epistemology and increase its normative contribution to them.
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This essay argues for the conceptual connection of legitimacy, resistance and ‘the people’ within liberal theories of public justification by making two primary claims: that legitimacy and resistance are mutually constitutive of one another and that together legitimacy and resistance are constitutive of an aspirational conception of ‘the people’. These claims revolve around the idea that the legitimacy of democratic regimes necessarily entails the questioning of that legitimacy through resistance, which concerns demands that say something about the makeup of ‘the people’. The concern is conceptual, examples of resistance showing how the conceptual connection manifests itself.
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This paper presents a novel conceptualization of a type of untruthful speech that is of eminent political relevance but has hitherto been unrecognized: epistemically exploitative bullshit (EEB). Speakers engaging in EEB are bullshitting: they deceive their addressee regarding their unconcern for the very difference between truth and falsity. At the same time, they exploit their discursive victims: they oblige their counterparts to perform unacknowledged and emotionally draining epistemic work to educate the speakers about the addressees' oppression, only to discredit their epistemic trustworthiness. I argue that EEB is irreducible to various recently discussed untruthful speech, and in particular to Frankfurtian bullshit, as well as to epistemic exploitation or other epistemic injustices. Taking inspiration from Sartre's analysis of anti‐Semitic discourse, where bullshitting and epistemic exploitation are essentially interlinked, I instead suggest that recognizing the distinctiveness of EEB allows for a more refined conceptualization of these discursive phenomena. Specifically, I show how bad faith and the ensuing collective diffusion and delegation of epistemic responsibility play a so far neglected but key role here. I ultimately demonstrate that with Sartre's help, we can grasp how the existential, interpersonal and institutional dimensions involved in the negotiation of truth seamlessly intersect better than we would with the lens of analytic or critical epistemology alone.
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English speech and hearing are perceived by many in the UK population as the key ways that people listen, learn, and know. This often‐invisible assumption quietly colors almost every element of social interaction—within schooling, health, governance, social care, or in art and entertainment. This article unpacks the ways that a particular kind of sensorial bias can become embedded in knowledge‐making practices to the exclusion of other possibilities. Through ethnographic appraisal of signed versions of songs—“song‐signing”—one can witness how language and listening rigidities are built into the architecture of British social behaviors and public systems. I argue that attending to rigid perceptions concerning ways of listening as regards expectations of song experiences, and more broadly, presents a means for exposing invisible epistemic bias and injustice against deaf people. Throughout this text, readers are asked to alter expectations concerning sensory perception and definitions of listening. What this article ultimately explains is why what may seem to nonsigners to be an anodyne creative act of “song interpretation” in fact feeds into a political landscape that is divisive along sensorial and therefore epistemic and ontological lines. Habla y audición en inglés son percibidos por muchos en la población del Reino Unido como las formas claves en que las personas escuchan, aprenden y conocen. Esta asunción a menudo invisible silenciosamente colorea casi cada elemento de la interacción social –dentro de la escuela, la salud, la gobernanza, el cuidado social, o en el arte y el entretenimiento –. Este artículo descifra las formas en que un tipo particular de sesgo sensorial puede llegar a estar embebido en las prácticas de crear conocimiento para la exclusión de otras posibilidades. A través de la evaluación etnográfica de versiones firmadas de canciones –firma de canciones– uno puede atestiguar cómo las rigideces del lenguaje y del escuchar son construidas dentro de la arquitectura de las conductas sociales y los sistemas públicos británicos. Argumento que atendiendo a percepciones rígidas concernientes a formas de escuchar por lo que se refiere a las expectativas de las experiencias de las canciones, y más ampliamente, presenta un medio para exponer sesgos epistémicos invisibles e injusticias en contra de las personas sordas. A través de este texto, a los lectores se les solicita alterar las expectativas concernientes a la percepción sensorial y las definiciones de escuchar. Lo que este artículo últimamente explica es por qué lo que puede parecer a los no firmantes, ser un acto creativo anodino de “interpretación de canciones” de hecho alimenta un paisaje político que es divisivo a lo largo de líneas sensoriales y por lo tanto epistémicas y ontológicas.[lenguaje de los signos,escuchar,acustemología,epistemologías y justicia epistémica,mundo sordo]
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Purpose To encourage more just open educational practices, the purpose of this paper is to describe Jose Medina’s theory of epistemic justice and develop a framework applying this conception of epistemic justice to OEP through learning design. The authors hope this framework will help researchers and practitioners develop more equitable learning experiences in open educational contexts. Design/methodology/approach This paper is conceptual and design-oriented. This paper seeks to draw relationships between José Medina’s work in The Epistemology of Resistance , recent empirical studies in learning design and OEP. By analyzing relationships between these works, this paper lays out design principles that can empower educators seeking to create equitable open learning experiences. Findings This paper finds several generative intersections between the social justice centered epistemology presented by Medina, empirical learning design studies and OEP. This study finds that structured learning designs which integrate well-researched principles may provide guidance for further practice and research in ways not generally discussed in open education literature. This paper builds on these findings by describing practical ways these intersections can be implemented in OEP. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first theoretical analysis of the relationship between epistemic justice and OEP.
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This article draws from a decade-long community-based research partnership oriented toward learning from and supporting immigrant youth and families as they advocate for themselves in the face of educational inequity. In particular, we focus on examining the trajectory and insights of the partnership in light of ongoing educational, health, and sociopolitical crises during the pandemic and the racial uprisings against police violence. We sought to understand how the work shifted in response to these global crises and also what sustained our collaboration during these times. As we showcase through representative examples of our inquiries, members of different immigrant communities in our partnership drew on their individual and collective experiences to engage in research as an act of care, to address pragmatic and immediate needs in their schooling, and to contend with traumatic legacies of oppression. Expanding networks of care and the intellectual legacy of the collaboration itself–what we refer to as an intellectual commons–created the foundation to sustain and amplify our work together during a time of social transformation.
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In this paper I argue that Foucaultian genealogy offers a critical ap-proach to practices of remembering and forgetting which is crucial for resisting op-pression and dominant ideologies. For this argument I focus on the concepts of counter-history and counter-memory that Foucault developed in the 1970's. In the first section I analyze how the Foucaultian approach puts practices of remembering and forgetting in the context of power relations, focusing not only on what is remem-bered and forgotten, but how, by whom, and with what effects. I highlight the criti-cal possibilities for resistance that this approach opens up, and I illustrate them with Ladelle McWhorter's genealogy of racism in Anglo-America. In the second section I put the Foucaultian approach in conversation with contemporary work in prag-matism and critical theory on the social epistemology of memory. In the third and final section, I explore some of the implications of the Foucaultian notion of resis-tance and what I term guerrilla pluralism for contemporary epistemological discus-sions of ignorance in standpoint theory and race theory.
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I want to explore strategic expressions of ignorance against the background of Charles W. Mills's account of epistemologies of ignorance in The Racial Contract (1997). My project has two interrelated goals. I want to show how Mills's discussion is restricted by his decision to frame ignorance within the language and logic of social contract theory. And, I want to explain why Maria Lugones's work on purity is useful in reframing ignorance in ways that both expand our understandings of ignorance and reveal its strategic uses. I begin with Mills's account of the Racial Contract, and explain how it prescribes for its signatories an epistemology of ignorance, which Mills characterizes as an inverted epistemology. I briefly outline his program for undoing white ignorance and indicate that retooling white ignorance is more complex than his characterization suggests. Making this argument requires an abrupt shift from the white-created frameworks of social contract theory to Lugones's system of thinking rooted in the lives of people of color. So, the next section outlines Lugones's distinction between the logic of purity and the logic of curdling and explains its usefulness in addressing ignorance. With both accounts firmly in place the third section demonstrates how the Racial Contract produces at least two expressions of ignorance and explains how the logic of purity underlying the Contract shapes each expression in ways that limit possibilities for resistance. I don't mean to suggest that the social contract theory's love of purity invalidates Mills's work, only that this framework limits prospects for long-term change by neglecting the relationship between white ignorance and non-white resistance. The final sections explain how people of color use ignorance strategically to their advantage , and argue that examining ignorance through a curdled lens not only makes strategic ignorance visible, but also points to alternatives for retooling white ignorance.
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Philosophy
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Given William James's thoroughgoing individualism, it may seem peculiar-even implausible-to use his philosophy to bring together the notion of truth and the notion of solidarity. James's philosophy seems oriented toward the individual and her experiences, but not so much toward interpersonal relations. However, despite his recalcitrant and unqualified individualism, I want to argue that there is a strong social element in James's philosophy. I see this impetus toward the interpersonal and social in his pluralism and relationalism. James's radical pluralism is based on a theory of relationality according to which nothing can be understood in and by itself, but rather in relation to other things, in a network of relations. On this relational view, the identity of things is concocted in a network of interdependences; and to have a sense of self is to have a sense of the dependences that compose one's life, for we can understand the identity of something only by grasping the fabric of relations in which that thing appears. It is essential to distinguish this relationalism from the holism that is often attributed to figures such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wilfrid Sellars, Nelson Goodman, and W. V. O. Quine. Whereas the Jamesian relationalism is based on open-ended networks of relations that are typically unfinished and indeterminate, the holism that circulates in contemporary philosophy of language requires finished and complete wholes (whether they are frameworks, webs of beliefs, or language-games). James's relationalism is beyond the usual dichotomy between atomism and holism and actually undercuts it, for, without assigning priority to the component parts or to the whole, it prioritizes relations and calls attention to their formative and transformative character in shaping the relata. From a relational perspective, to understand the identity of something is to understand how that thing is related to many other things, but also how it can become entangled in many other potential relations. For it is not only the factual relations that are already given that matter, but also those other potential relations that can unfold or be created. The identity of each thing is bound up with diversity, for each thing enters into constitutive relations with many other things and becomes entangled with a wild diversity of entities to which it is related in a network of interdependences. From this point of view, issues of identity have to be understood as issues of diversity: The others are essential to the self, for it is in networks of relations that individuals and groups are formed. Diversity is not a multicultural invention of postcolonial and globalized societies. On this view, diversity is the condition of denizens of this world and, therefore also, the human condition. We are diverse and heterogeneous beings who are shaped and reshaped through diverse and heterogeneous networks of interpersonal relations. James's conception of the self underscores this deep sense of relationality and involvement with those around us. For James, the self is a bundle of relations: The self is formed in and through the relations in which it becomes involved; we negotiate our identity in these relations. As he puts it: "Every bit of us at every moment is part and parcel of a wider self, it quivers along various radii like the wind-rose on a compass, and the actual in it is continuously one with possibles not yet in our present sight" (APU, 1977). As McDermott has shown, despite James's unflinching individualism and his explicit rejection of sociality as a constitutive aspect of the self, the Jamesian Promethean self is not a solitary self but a member of a community of experience and interpretation that cannot help but be enmeshed in social networks, for it is a relational unit that shrinks and grows as it relates to others.1 In James's view truth is a value that regulates our normative engagements with others. Truth is therefore the source of solidarity, for it contributes to the sharing of experience and the coordination of action. When James defines truth as "whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief" (P, 42), he is referring not only to what we believe individually but also to what we believe together. For, as James puts it, "all human thinking gets discursified [ . . . ] by means of social intercourse" (P, 102); and in the "discursification" of our thinking our beliefs get articulated and evaluated in social negotiations that are regulated by truth. In other words, truth is a value that regulates our epistemic practices for the fixation of belief. Our truth negotiations are oriented toward the configuration of a common vantage point from which we can survey the world together. They aim at the sharing of experiences and at the coordination of action. In these negotiations we have to take responsibility for the beliefs we hold to be true. On the Jamesian view, holding a belief as true is holding that it is good to live by it; and this allegiance to a particular belief makes one responsible for its practical consequences in one's life and in the lives of others. In this way, as we shall see, James's conception of truth underscores the epistemic and social responsibility of believers and their accountability to others. It is important to note that the normative engagements that truth regulates are open-ended negotiations that involve not only actual but also possible others with whom we may share our cognitive life. That is, the normative negotiations concerning truth are open to indefinitely many others who can become our inter locutors. And what is crucial to note here is that these potential interlocutors are specific others who pose specific challenges and demands. They cannot be properly understood as a Generalized Other à la Mead or as a formal universal community of communication à la Habermas. As I will try to show in what follows, the notion of solidarity that derives from James's view of truth is very different from Mead's cosmopolitanism or from Habermas's universalism. The central goal of this essay will be to use James's conception of truth to make explicit the connections between the epistemic reconstruction of beliefs and the sociopolitical critique of our practices and ways of life. In the next section, I will examine the normative and performative aspects of truth, bringing to the fore the social and political implications of James's view. In the section after, using as an illustration the critical reconstruction of our beliefs about the past, I will try to show that, according to James's radical pluralism, epistemological analysis is always at the same time social critique. This discussion will try to make clear that, far from falling into relativism, James's pluralistic conception of truth makes room for a robust notion of objectivity, which is at the same time a notion of justice. Finally, I will explore the implications of the convergence between the epistemic and the political that I see in James's view. I will argue that the Jamesian insights about truth have a prolific (and yet untapped) critical potential and can be used to set the agenda of a critical epistemology for the twenty-first century.
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