Spring 2022

An Epistemology of the Oppressed: Resisting and Flourishing under Epistemic Oppression with Gaile Pohlhaus
Friday, January 21: 3:00 pm
Zoom – Register Here
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 live to fight another day.  In this talk 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 body 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 what oppressors should do to be better people”).  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?

Dr. Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Graduate Studies at Miami University (Ohio).  She is co-editor
of The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice and has published essays in such journals as HypatiaFeminist Philosophical QuarterlySocial EpistemologyPhilosophical Papers, and Political Theory.