Resisting Epistemic Oppression
In order to address questions about how to conceptualize and resist epistemic oppression most effectively, this essay develops a critical engagement with Kristie Dotson’s (2014) “Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression.” Relying on a conceptual clarification of what is meant by “shared epistemic resources,” I argue against Dotson’s distinction which finds some instances of epistemic oppression to be “reducible” to the unequal distribution of social and political power, and some to be distinctively epistemic, and thus “irreducible” to these factors. Rather, I maintain the most effective conceptualization of the phenomenon will find that all of its forms have a distinctive epistemic dimension that must be contended with; they are thus irreducible in Dotson’s sense. In other words, the critical interrogation of governing norms will be necessary for resistance in all three cases. I briefly consider the import of my view by looking at epistemic oppression amidst the presidency of Barack Obama.
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