Privileged Ignorance, “World”-Traveling, and Epistemic Tourism

Hypatia 35 (3):475-489 (2020)
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Abstract

In this article I am concerned with how relatively privileged people who wish to act in anti-oppressive ways respond to their own ignorance in ways that fall short of what is necessary for building coalitions against oppression. I consider María Lugones's sense of “world”-travel and José Medina's notion of epistemic friction-seeking as strategies for combating privileged ignorance, and assess how well they fare when put into practice by those suffering from privileged ignorance. Drawing on the resources of tourism studies, I critique the political and material context that can turn these attempts to “world”-travel or seek epistemic friction into a morally and epistemically problematic epistemic tourism. Centrally, I argue that trying to learn what it's like to experience oppression is not an effective method of counteracting privileged ignorance, since the epistemic vices and cognitive distortions that created the ignorance in the first place continue to influence knowledge-creation even after they are acknowledged. Rather than attempting to understand “what it's like” to experience oppression, privileged progressives should undertake to learn about the provenance and purpose of their ignorance and the structures of oppression that facilitate and are facilitated by that ignorance.

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References found in this work

[Book Review] the Racial Contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
White Ignorance.Charles W. Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.
White Ignorance and Colonial Oppression.Shannon Sullivan - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: pp. 153-172.

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