Epistemic Oppression, Resistance, and Resurgence

Contemporary Political Theory 21 (2):283-314 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Epistemologies have power. They have the power not only to transform worlds, but to create them. And the worlds that they create can be better or worse. For many people, the worlds they create are predictably and reliably deadly. Epistemologies can turn sacred land into ‘resources’ to be bought, sold, exploited, and exhausted. They can turn people into ‘labor’ in much the same way. They can not only disappear acts of violence but render them unnamable and unrecognizable within their conceptual architectures. Settler systems of epistemic and conceptual resources and the relations among them are constructed to preclude certain forms of knowledge. This is not an accident; it is a central goal of colonial violence. Colonization and land dispossession would not be possible without the violent disruption of Indigenous knowledge systems and ongoing organized attempts to disrupt their survival. Violently disrupting the relationships of people to land is as much an epistemic project as it is a material one, and these two projects are inherently linked. The task of theorizing epistemic oppression is not only about epistemic oppression. Epistemic oppression is a story that gives language to a phenomenon in order to get past it, to carry on with the maintaining and reviving the forms of Indigenous and diasporic knowledge that colonialism has worked tirelessly to corrupt and silence.

Similar books and articles

White Feminist Gaslighting.Nora Berenstain - 2020 - Hypatia 35 (4):733-758.
Epistemic Exploitation.Nora Berenstain - 2016 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3:569-590.
Eight Dimensions of Resistance.Tamara Fakhoury - 2019 - In Jennifer Kling (ed.), Pacifism, Politics, and Feminism: Intersections and Innovations. The Netherlands: Brill | Rodopi. pp. 68-79.
Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression.Kristie Dotson - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):115-138.
A Cautionary Tale: On Limiting Epistemic Oppression.Kristie Dotson - 2012 - Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 33 (1):24-47.
Genocide Denial as Testimonial Oppression.Melanie Altanian - 2021 - Social Epistemology 35 (2):133-146.
Epistemic Corruption and Social Oppression.Ian James Kidd - 2020 - In Ian James Kidd, Quassim Cassam & Heather Battaly (eds.), Vice Epistemology. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 69-87.


Added to PP

1,302 (#8,490)

6 months
353 (#5,214)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Nora Berenstain
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Kristie Dotson
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Elena Ruíz
Michigan State University

References found in this work

Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression.Kristie Dotson - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):115-138.
Can the Subaltern Speak?Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak - 1988 - Die Philosophin 14 (27):42-58.
White Feminist Gaslighting.Nora Berenstain - 2020 - Hypatia 35 (4):733-758.
Cultural Gaslighting.Elena Ruíz - 2020 - Hypatia 35 (4):687-713.

View all 12 references / Add more references