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.
We 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!