Today, we’re going to talk about epistemic injustice and epistemicide.  These are dynamics of knowledge and power.  This discussion will build on what we’ve already learned about knowledge.  You’ve read the short paper by Miranda Fricker and the excerpt from Another Knowledge is Possible in preparation for today.

In October 2015, Coby Burren and his mother, Roni Dean-Burren, exposed a geography textbook that described enslaved Africans as “workers” brought to the United States, with no mention of enslavement.  This is the video she posted.  We might watch it in class today.

We will probably talk at least a little about cultural capital, a concept articulated by Pierre Bourdieu.  Most likely we’ll talk about it as it relates to class. Here is a quote from a book called Limbo by Michael Lubrano.  In this book, Lubrano talks about the “straddlers,” people who transition from working class to middle class, often through a college education.  He discusses the adjustments and experiences the “straddlers” have in life:

“Regardless, if you come from the working class, you haven’t got a clue how to conduct yourself when you first land in an office. You’re lost if you can’t navigate the landscape – if you follow blue-collar mores and speak your mind, directly challenging authority. Without tact and subtlety, without the ability to practice politics amongst the cubicles, an executive with a blue-collar background will not rise. And it’s a drag watching others get promoted over you.

Language, too, is a sticking point – both what you say and how you say it. If the work environment is particularly sterile, cold, distant, and austere, then anything more than a mild giggle at a tasteful joke will raise eyebrows. And it’s no secret that on-the-rise types solicit help from speech experts to bury Southern accents, Brooklyn accents, and any other perceived verbal barbarisms that would offend the ears of a genteel corporate listener. Along with sound, the right picture is imperative. Clothes, then, become vital for the proper office portrait. Straddlers swathed in polyester from birth, or simply unacquainted with the standard-issue Brooks Brothers uniform, report being taken aside by higher-ups and literally told how to dress.”