This session will look at the politics of knowledge production and discuss the ways in which the establishment of the dominant discourses of legitimate knowledge relied upon the concomitant marginalisation of ‘other’ sources of knowledge. Mainstream approaches to the philosophy of social science have not, for the most part, been particularly concerned with the effects of epistemology on the racialized/ethnicized and/or the non-Western and non-white. This is because the West, as the location from which the majority of these viewpoints have been constructed, has either implemented a universalistic image of the world which proposes that it can be all encompassing, or because it has more directly ignored the world beyond Europe and the West. This session will critically discuss the emergence of ‘postcolonial studies’ and its positioning of the subaltern as the vantage point from which to critique these dominant discourses, as well as attending to the various problems present in such an undertaking, as identified in the writings of Spivak. It will also look at the problems of doing social research with or on ‘Other’ (non-white, non-Western) groups. We shall examine the problems of paternalism, tokenism, objectivism, victimisation and the intended or unintended abuses of power that can arise out of sensitive and highly politicised research situations. We also ask what a philosophy of social science would look like if it was purposefully dedicated to acknowledging the injustices borne of racism and colonialism and redressing them.

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