Epistemic Oppression and Affective Exclusion

Developing a Subaltern Epistemology


  • Aleksandra Hernandez University of Miami




co-occurring emotions, affective exclusion, epistemic oppression, self-knowledge, grief, epistemic feelings


Epistemic oppression is the systematic exclusion of oppressed groups from knowledge-making practices. One of the goals of feminist epistemology is to understand the nature of the barriers preventing oppressed individuals from realising their epistemic agency and contributing to knowledge production. Feminist epistemologists have taken monumental strides in theorising the different forms of exclusions that constitute epistemic oppression (e.g., Fricker 2007; Dotson 2014; Bailey 2014). But more needs to be done by way of understanding what makes an oppressive epistemic landscape resilient and resistant to change. In this paper, I develop a pragmatist account of the affective mechanisms in place that protect the epistemic landscape from critical reflection and produce what I refer to as affective exclusion. I argue that, since the mechanism that protects the epistemic landscape from critical reflection is affective by nature, we cannot reason ourselves out of affective exclusion. Instead, I propose that, although they often prevent us from realising our epistemic agency, our co-occurring emotions and feelings, such as grief, anxiety, and other epistemic feelings, can be catalysts for reflection about the skewed nature of the epistemic landscape. I conclude with a discussion of the role that narrative fiction might play in helping us resist affective exclusion and ending epistemic oppression.


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