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Episode 92: Kristie Dotson discusses epistemic oppression


Note: this episode was recorded in 2016, prior to the US presidential election. Kristie Dotson will be coming back in a future episode to give us her latest thoughts on these topics in light of recent developments in US politics!

This month, we talk to Kristie Dotson (Michigan State University) about how people’s ability to gather and share information can be negatively impacted under oppressive social systems. Click here to listen to our conversation.

minidotsonWe human beings rely on each other for most of our information. I think I can say I know that Tanzania exists–in fact, according to our records, someone from Tanzania has listened to this podcast–even though I’ve never flown out there myself to check. How do I know? I get information about what’s happening there by a mix of historical records, news reporting, testimony from people who have been there, and even testimony from people who come from Tanzania. What’s more, this information about what’s happening in the world that I learned from testimony is often of crucial importance, both for me and other people. It affects my voting decisions, to be sure, but it can also impact my day-to-day decisions.

In this episode, our guest shows that an important dimension of political oppression has to do with the sharing of information. Being oppressed isn’t just about having some of your rights denied–though of course it usually is at least about that–sometimes it’s about imbalances in who important information gets shared with, or imbalances in what kind of information gets shared. The philosophical term for these imbalances is ‘epistemic oppression.’

Join us as our guest walks us through how both having knowledge and having other people know things about you assumes a level of key importance in today’s politics!

Matt Teichman

Posted in Podcast.


5 Responses

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  1. Erin Harrelson says

    I would love to learn more about this issue because it is important but unfortunately, I can’t access this podcast because I am a deaf sign language user. I suppose this is an example of epistemic oppression because of the lack of accessibility for people who can’t hear but I can’t be sure because I don’t know how you are defining this. Is there be a transcript of this talk posted somewhere?

    • Matt Teichman says

      Hi Erin,

      Thanks so much for getting in touch. It would be great to be able to provide transcriptions, but unfortunately we don’t have the budget for it. Still more unfortunately, that response does nothing to address the accessibility issue, which I agree is important and may very well be a form of epistemic oppression. I wonder whether there are any free podcast automated podcast transcription services or apps out there? I mention this because Youtube has actually auto-generated transcriptions for two of our episodes, and they aren’t half bad. Here’s a link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URdgIWfsot0&t=972s

      In the meanwhile, I will get in touch with a friend of mine who is an expert on accessibility and see what she says. And please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

      -Matt

  2. Evie Zouras says

    This was eye opening for me. thank you.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now: The Place of Vaginas in Black Feminist Theory & Organizing linked to this post on January 23, 2017

    […] become violent and oppressive. They can act as a form of “epistemic exploitation,” (listen to great podcast on this here) in which endless questions are used as a way to disaffirm other people’s account of their own […]



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