Feminist and Post-Colonial Epistemologies course description


PHILO 78700

Mondays 2:00-4:00


Linda Martín Alcoff

Department of Philosophy

CUNY Graduate Center



This course will consider the relationship of knowledge to power, and of epistemology to power, through recent work in epistemology on questions of gender and of colonialism, as well as work in social epistemology and science studies.  What counts as epistemic injustice, to use Miranda Fricker’s term? What role has western epistemology played in regard to promoting, and also ameliorating, epistemic injustice? What are the epistemic, and not simply sociological or political, lessons to be learned from the history of preemptive epistemic disauthorization of women and whole groups of people across the globe?

Beyond the critical project, we will look at work that develops normative reconstructions of epistemology. These include, for example, proposals to build in a reflexivity about the social context in which belief formation and justification occurs, to reassess the role of social and political values as epistemic virtues, and to reconsider whether the assumptions in epistemology about the universal nature of justification are epistemically warranted. Innovative concepts such as “border gnosis,” “postcolonial standpoint theory,” and “pluritopic hermeneutics” will also be explored and assessed.

Readings will include recent work from the following: Miranda Fricker, Sue Campbell, Helen Longino, Susan Buck-Morss, Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, Anibal Quijano, Fernando Coronil, Sandra Harding, Michel Foucault, and Edward Said.


Advance reading

Students with no or little familiarity with these topics might want to look at some of the following over the summer:

Genevieve Lloyd The man of reason

Alcoff and Potter, eds., Feminist epistemologies

Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin, eds., The post-colonial studies reader

Edward Said, Orientalism