IMPLISITT - project closing conference: Decolonizing Epistemic Injustice and Implicit Bias

Illustrasjons-/bannerbilde for IMPLISITT - project closing conference: Decolonizing Epistemic Injustice and Implicit Bias

The two day closing conference establishes a connection between the topic of epistemic injustice and decolonial theories, which have so far been treated relatively separately. It thus contributes to making the cross-connections between the two topics obvious and thus accessible for further scientific analysis. It addresses three main questions of this important relationship:

  • To what extent can theories of epistemic injustice be applied to fields of inquiry in decolonial theories?
  • To what extent are theories of epistemic injustice and decolonial theories necessarily to be thought of together, especially in relation to social inequality and our academic practices of theorizing?
  • To what extent do theories of epistemic injustice themselves need to be decolonized?

While theories of epistemic injustice are have reached a wide audience and are being investigated in detail , as can be seen from the increasing number of books, papers, workshops, and seminars being offered on the topic, there is still little significant research on the intersection of epistemic injustice and decolonial theories. The edited collection is intended to contribute to closing three gaps in the academic discourse: (A) To highlight the importance of decolonial research in the field of epistemic injustice and to explore the relation between decolonial theory and theories of epistemic injustice; (B) to enrich the debate on epistemic injustice with non-Western experts on epistemology and/or decolonial theory; and (C) to critically investigate the ways in which the debate on epistemic injustice and our academic and, more generally, epistemic practices have to be decolonialized themselves.

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Programme

DAY 1  - Wednesday, January 25th

Teorifagbygget hus 1 Rom 1.425

10:00 - 10:15 

Welcome

 

10:15- 11:00  

Can Theorising Epistemic Injustice Help Us Decolonise?

Veli Mitova
 

11:15 - 12:00

Epistemic Decolonization in the midst of Europe?

Hilkje Hänel
 

12:00-13:15   

Lunch

13:15 - 14:00 

Theories of Epistemic Colonialism

Ezgi Sertler & Elena Ruiz 
 

14:15-       15:00

An Epistemology of the Oppressed: Resisting and Flourishing under Epistemic Oppression

Gaile Pohlhaus
 

15:15 -        16:00

Decolonizing Social Memory: Epistemic Injustice and Political Equality

Amandine Catala
 
 

16:15 - 17:00  

Substantive and Procedural Epistemic Injustice

Desirée Lim
 

18:30-21:00    

Dinner


DAY 2 - Thursday, January 26th

9:00 - 9:15    

Welcome

 

9:15 -    10:00 

Overcoming Epistemic Injustice in Africa: A Global South Perspectiv

Dennis Masaka
 

10:15 -      11:00

Knowledge-specific forms of epistemic injustice and the remnants of colonialism

Kerstin Reibold
 

11:15 - 12:00

On Epistemic Freedom and Epistemic Injustice

Karl Landström
 

12:00 -13:00 

Lunch

13:15 -  14:00

Decolonizing Epistemic Injustice: Ambivalent or Multiple Borders?

Caroline Marim
 

14:15 - 15:00

Europe’s Suppressed Jewish Episteme

Elad Lapidot
 

15:15 - 16:00

In Search of a “Truly-Feminist” Agency? 

Rethinking Feminist Epistemology in the Context of Partition-Induced Forced Migration in India

Ekata Bakshi
 

16:15 -         17:00 

Decolonising climate justice: On the epistemic injustice of neo-colonial climate politics

Fabian Schuppert
 

18:30 - 21:00

Dinner

 

Abstracts of workshop papers 

Can Theorising Epistemic Injustice Help Us Decolonise?

Veli Mitova

According to some philosophers, the debate on epistemic injustice is (to put it crudely) ‘white-people stuff’: it reinforces the very structures of oppression and marginalisation that it supposedly aims to unravel. If this is right, theorising epistemic injustice is inimical to the decolonial project. In this paper, I argue that while this problem indeed bedevils some scholarship on epistemic injustice, there is nothing intrinsically marginalising about thinking in terms of such injustice. On the contrary, the debate has some good precision tools for diagnosing and combatting deep challenges for the oppressed. I take the decolonisation of knowledge as a point in case. I first sharpen the white-people-stuff objection. I then foreground three notions from the epistemic injustice literature – epistemic oppression, white ignorance, and contributory injustice – and argue that these notions are both useful for the decolonisation of knowledge and invulnerable to the white-people-stuff objection.

Epistemic Decolonization in the midst of Europe?

Hilkje Hänel
Decolonization in its broadest understanding is the undoing of colonialism, which in turn is the process whereby a hostile nation dominates foreign territories. Roma and Sinti are both traveling people and thus the discrimination, exploitation, and oppression of Roma and Sinti is ill-fitted for the framework of decolonization. Nevertheless, this paper argues that Roma and Sinti can be accurately described as decolonial subjects particularly with respect to the ongoing Epistemic Injustice and White Ignorance they are continuously facing. Drawing on work concerned with the identities of “Gypsies” in Western imagination (Appiah & Gates 1995, Lindemann 2001, Baker & Hlavajova 2013) and a thorough explication of the ongoing oppression of Roma and Sinti (Atkin 2021, MacLaughlin 1999) and its parallels to other decolonial subjects (Mudure 2003, Kochanowski 1968), the paper explores the underlying epistemic ignorance and injustice faced by Roma and Sinti; arguing that these forms of epistemic violence is tightly connected to dominant imagination of the “other”.
 

Theories of Epistemic Colonialism

Ezgi Sertler & Elena Ruiz 

We start this paper with two diagnostic questions: 1. What is the nature and the purpose of the work of epistemic injustice, as the term becomes more and more ubiquitous in many academic projects? And 2. What is the nature and the purpose of the work of decolonizing epistemic injustice? The first question probes critical as well as creative potential of the term epistemic injustice and the limits of its non-structural projects. Answering the second question, we argue, requires both an investigation of the terms under which the work of decolonization is performed and an inquiry into how decolonization is understood, by whom, and for whom.

In light of these inquiries, we first demonstrate how the project of decolonizing epistemic injustice can itself be a colonial project. It can specifically be a colonial epistemological project that structures the terms of engagement between dominant and non-dominantly situated knowers through a hermeneutic pay-to-play exchange that recenters the terms, epistemic concerns, languages, and conceptual orthodoxies of Anglo-European intellectual traditions and their feminist inheritors and beneficiaries in philosophy. Here, we draw parallels to projects such as ‘decolonizing Aristotelian political philosophy’ and ‘decolonizing Rawls’ and ask: How are these projects relevant to the rematriative, reciprocal, reparative, restorative, and structural justice projects of Indigenous people and people of color in settler colonial societies who are actively trying to dismantle the vast reaches of European settler colonial whiteness and settler white supremacist violence in our lives? In other words, we question the value, but more importantly, the purposes of the epistemic labor that goes into enumerating and extracting non-whitewashed versions of whitewashed theories of injustice. Here, we also investigate whether this kind of project can decouple people’s colonial education from serving the interests of the culture that propagated that system of education.

 We track the histories of long-standing theoretical traditions in Indigenous and women of color feminisms in order to demonstrate a project of decolonizing epistemic injustice with different orientations. We argue that these particular theoretical traditions offer non-deal framings of epistemic injustice as epistemic colonialism, where the norms of prioritization are written and enacted differently than a hermeneutic pay-to-play exchange. We identify discussions and theorizations of structural epistemic violence as an impactful systemic force in women’s lives by multiple feminist theories in the global south, and we argue that these projects of structural epistemic violence work tirelessly to highlight mechanisms of corruption, destruction and silencing in colonial epistemological systems.

An Epistemology of the Oppressed: Resisting and Flourishing under Epistemic Oppression

Gaile Pohlhaus

In “The Ethics of Uncle Tom’s Children” Tommie Shelby notes that an ethics of the oppressed needs to attend to at least two aspects of living under conditions of oppression: first, resisting and overturning the unjust conditions that constitute oppression and second, sustaining a livable life despite injustice, so that one might, so to speak, live to fight another day. In this essay I consider whether the same is true for an epistemology of the oppressed. By “epistemology of the oppressed” I mean a philosophical account of epistemic life from the perspective of those who are systematically subject to unjust infringements on their epistemic agency. Despite a growing amount of literature on epistemic injustice, it strikes me that much of this literature does not yet fully contribute to an epistemology of the oppressed (but instead is geared toward an epistemology of “how oppressors oppress and how oppressors could do better”). Of the literature that does contribute to an epistemology of the oppressed, most of it seems to contribute to the first aspect identified by Shelby, resisting and overturning unjust conditions. Is there also room for thinking about what it means to flourish, epistemically speaking, when one faces epistemic oppression? Or is all epistemic flourishing under such conditions reducible to epistemic resistance so that the conditions that impede one’s epistemic flourishing begin to be overturned?
 

Decolonizing Social Memory: Epistemic Injustice and Political Equality

Amandine Catala

Most western democracies have been, or continue to be, involved in colonialism. Yet colonial memory is often either severely distorted or lacking entirely – a situation I characterize as “colonial erasure.” I argue that, by obscuring the continuity between historical and contemporary injustice, colonial erasure produces and maintains inequalities in both epistemic and political power for Afrodescendants and Indigenous peoples. Specifically, I argue that colonial erasure creates epistemic injustice; that this situation of epistemic injustice undermines political equality in contemporary societies; and that securing epistemic justice and political equality therefore requires, among other things, a collective duty of colonial memory. I proceed in three steps. I first point to the mechanisms that underlie colonial erasure by looking at the functions that social memory serves for social groups, and I show how defective social memory regarding colonialism produces and maintains epistemic injustice for Afrodescendants and Indigenous peoples. I then argue that this situation of epistemic injustice seriously undermines these minorities’ ability to engage in the democratic process of political participation on an equal basis. In this way, colonialism very much continues into the present. Ending colonial domination and achieving political equality thus require, among other things, bringing about epistemic justice through colonial memory. Finally, I specify what the collective duty of colonial memory involves and the processes whereby it might be fulfilled. Here I show how an understanding of the different functions that social memory serves can help to identify effective strategies to fulfill the collective duty of colonial memory, and hence to move toward greater epistemic justice and political equality.

Substantive and Procedural Epistemic Injustice

Desirée Lim
 
Epistemic injustice is most frequently understood as falling into two categories: testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice (Fricker 2007) Generally speaking, to address epistemic injustice, we are required to do at least two things. Firstly, we must attend to credibility deficits, under which subordinated persons’ capacity for knowledge are routinely called into doubt. Secondly, we should actively foster the development of concepts that will enable subordinated persons to better-understand and articulate the conditions of their subordination. Taking these duties of justice as a given, my chapter critically analyzes the rectificatory steps that institutions have undertaken to achieve a more epistemically just social world. Specifically, I propose that we ought to draw a clearer distinction between procedural and substantive forms of epistemic justice. As I will argue, an excessive focus on the procedural aspects of epistemic justice may in fact run contrary – or even be detrimental to – to the goal of substantive epistemic justice. Concentrating particularly on the case of Western universities, I examine three possible conditions through which this self-undermining phenomenon has occurred: elite capture, non-transparency, and epistemic rigidity.
 

Overcoming Epistemic Injustice in Africa: A Global South Perspectiv

Dennis Masaka

In this chapter, I seek to show how the problem of epistemic injustice in Africa could best be approached in a way that will possibly lead to the attainment of envisioned genuine epistemic justice. I particularly posit that substantive attention ought to be focused on how knowledge production in Africa could be recast so that the knowledges that are produced identify with existential situations of their producers. This dimension has largely been under-emphasised in debates about epistemic injustice in Africa which have so far focused more on showing the merits of counterbalancing the stake of the dominant knowledge tradition of our time in learning arenas through creating space for other knowledges. In the first section, I attempt to indicate what African peoples typically regard as epistemic injustice and how it has constrained the flourishing of their epistemologies. In the second section, 1 highlight what has been commonly believed in extant literature to be viable solutions to this problem. In the final section, I attempt to show what possibly needs to be done to attain genuine epistemic justice in Africa, that is, ensuing that the knowledges that are produced reflect the aspirations and terms of cultures from which they emerge. The overall objective is to offer a proposal from a typical global South perspective that, on balance of scale, offer a compelling basis on which to ground efforts to overturn epistemic justice and engender epistemic justice.

Knowledge-specific forms of epistemic injustice and the remnants of colonialism

Kerstin Reibold

Successful integration often hangs on whether trust can be established between the native and the immigrant population. Trust, in turn, is related to different forms of knowing. Trusting someone means, among other things, to believe that the other person has not just the will but also the knowledge to fulfill whatever one is trusted with (competences, norms etc.). This chapter analyzes how prejudices about former colonial subjects and their assumedly lower competence, differing norms and nature still influence whether immigrants that can be visibly identified as belonging to a former ‘colonial population’ are believed when they communicate their trustworthiness. The chapter argues that colonial prejudices are fostering different kinds of epistemic injustice that directly undermine the establishment of trust, and thus integration, of immigrants in Western states.

On Epistemic Freedom and Epistemic Injustice

Karl Landström
 

‘Seek ye epistemic freedom first’ is how Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni begins his book Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (2018:1). The book constitutes a nuanced study of the politics of knowledge, and particularly of the African struggle for epistemic freedom. In the opening stages of the book Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2018:3) develops an account of epistemic freedom as the right to think, theorize and develop one’s own methodologies to interpret the world, and write from where one is located unencumbered by Eurocentrism. He argues that extant struggles for epistemic freedom stem from the continued entrapment of knowledge production in Africa within Euro- and North America centric matrices of power, and that control of the domain of knowledge production is central to the maintenance of asymmetric global power structures. Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2018) describes his project as one driven by a restorative epistemic agenda centred around epistemological decolonisation, provincializing Europe, and deprovincializing Africa. He argues that epistemic freedom speaks directly to what Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2014) has called cognitive justice. That is the recognition of the diverse ways of knowing by which humans from across the globe make sense of their experiences. In this chapter I explore the intersection of Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s account of epistemic freedom with a different set of theories pertaining to justice and injustice in the epistemic realm, namely the theorizing of epistemic injustice and epistemic oppression. In doing so I demonstrate that Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s theory of epistemic freedom, and theories of epistemic injustice and oppression intersect. Further I argue that they are complementary and can be fruitfully combined both to theorize and expose unjust conditions and structures that shape epistemic lives and practices. Further I argue that doing so will serve ameliorative and, in the words of Ndlovu-Gatsheni, restorative purposes.

Decolonizing Epistemic Injustice: Ambivalent or Multiple Borders?

Caroline Marim
 
Epistemic injustice was fostered along the entire colonization process and, when situated in countries of the global south, it is characterized both by the perpetuation of the reproduction of Western-centric models of knowledge – based on theories and operative concepts derived from Western European and North American experiences - and by the contempt, devaluation and invisibility of knowledge from our multiple originary and diasporic matrices. Epistemic abuse and exploitation play a strong role in maintaining active ignorance in society and dominant epistemic structures. This abuse can be described in three ways, which reveal the connections between epistemic injustice and different types of exploitation. First, the injustice due to the lack of epistemic recognition that prevails in maintaining dominant epistemic structures to the detriment of other epistemologies, such as Amerindians for example. Second, it is common in higher education institutions that coalitions, alliances and interpersonal relationships established in traditional epistemic values constitute themselves as epistemic or social and political oppression. And third, this implies the loss of power of indigenous peoples as epistemic agents. Their authority, narratives and affectivities are denied, strengthening, perpetuating and making invisible, therefore, not only other narratives but also limiting their very expansion in the West. This phenomenon takes on multiple forms and one of them occurs in rooted polarities conceptions of the world, such as the relationship between nature/culture, and human/non-human. As the Brazilian anthropologist, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (2002: 350) explains: “Each one sees the other from a point of view, or rather, from a perspective.” Amerindian perspectivism recognizes miscegenation between subject and object, human and non-human because as much as humans, animals, plants or meteors are endowed with a spiritual subjectivity. This conception of the world - in which animals are people [humans], or are seen as people - contrasts with classical Western ontology, based on a rigid separation between the subjective and objective domains, in particular between nature and culture. And that is why it is fundamentally a matter of recognizing the ontological self-determination of these peoples, that is, that they live in a different reality their own reality, not reducible to any of the western epistemological paradigms.
 

Europe’s Suppressed Jewish Episteme

Elad Lapidot

The chapter addresses the restitution of Europe's suppressed Jewish episteme. The contribution will concern, examine and critique contemporary projects that try to carry out something like a decolonization of Jewish Studies, which seek to undo the reification of "the Jewish" as an object of modern science, and to retrieve an alternative Jewish episteme and epistemology. Among others, my contribution will examine the tension between properly postcolonial projects of non-European epistemes and the decolonization of Jewish Studies, which approaches the Jewish episteme not as non-European but as an inner other to Christian Europe. The authors I will deal with include writers such as Emmanuel Levinas, Benny Lévy, Jonathan and Daniel Boyarin and Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin.
 

In Search of a “Truly-Feminist” Agency? Rethinking Feminist Epistemology in the Context of Partition-Induced Forced Migration in India

Ekata Bakshi
 
This paper is an attempt to reflect on my academic journey with regard to the ethico-political and methodological challenges, in researching the ‘Other(s)’. These challenges arose in the course of my doctoral research that sought to rethink the narration of the partition of British India (1947-71) through the intersecting lenses of caste, gender and region. I took the intersectional-category of Dalit-Bahujan, refugee-women, located in the non-metropolitan city of Asansol in West Bengal, as my protagonists, for such a re-telling. For the exercise, the question that became ethically and methodologically crucial was, how an academic enterprise by a savarna woman, that is enabled by the consumption of devalued, feminized labour of women, mostly from lower/outcaste (Dalit-Bahujan) groups, can seek to, ethically, understand such lives. I argue that imposing categories of research, born out of caste privilege to narrate such lives is to commit epistemic-injustice. But to achieve epistemic justice simplistic deployment of self-reflexivity and empathy as methods, is not enough. Taking a relational approach, that not only posits the upper caste and lower/out-caste femininity as co-constituted but also the researcher–researched relationship, as an extension of that co-constitution, however, may provide a partial way to strive towards greater epistemic-justice.
 
Decolonising climate justice: On the epistemic injustice of neo-colonial climate politics

Fabian Schuppert  

Contemporary climate politics, including efforts that are explicitly aimed at achieving climate justice, largely suffers from a (neo-)colonial perception of the world. Many well-intended policies which aim at solving the collective action problem which affects everybody on earth that is climate change, fail to reflect the deeply colonial roots of the problem itself as well as most proposed solutions. Ideas such as to govern land as a global commons fail to grasp that land, nature and the environment comes with a range of different meanings and uses, based on different epistemes and worldviews. However, in the context of climate politics there is currently only space for one dominant way of looking at the world, namely, the Western rationalist scientific understanding of the world and the systems which make life on earth possible. What falls by the wayside are different ways of understanding the world and the insights they could generate for the problem at hand. This chapter will highlight the distinct epistemic injustices which current climate politics commit and argue for decolonizing the normative ideal of climate justice.
 
 
Starts: 25.01.23 at 09.15
Ends: 26.01.23 at 17.00
Where: Teorifagbygget hus 1 Rom 1.425
Location / Campus: Tromsø
Target group: Employees, Students, Guests
Contact: Ida Johannessen

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