Accepted paper:

Rethinking the relationship between knowledge and power

Authors:

Lerato Posholi (University of the Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

The South African call for decolonising the curriculum and universities more broadly has brought about a renewed interest in the question of the relationship between knowledge and power. In this paper I investigate different accounts of the relationship between knowledge and power.

Paper long abstract:

The student protests in South Africa, under the banner of #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall have called for the decolonisation of the university and of the curriculum. The call for decolonising the curriculum has brought about a renewed interest in questions about how knowledge is entangled with power. Some of the debates on this call for decolonising curriculum invites us to relook and rethink the ways in which knowledge practices within the university and the university itself as a knowledge institution are embedded in social systems that influence and shape them in complex ways. This paper grapples with the relationship between epistemology and politics through understanding the relationship between the concepts of knowledge and power. My aim is to explore different accounts of the relationship between these concepts, and to investigate how power enters into knowledge and whether it must necessarily enter into knowledge. I do this by considering two accounts: the decolonial account and the account from social epistemology. My hope is that this investigation into the relationship between the concepts of knowledge and power will shed light on how we understand knowledge engagements between entities that have unequal power between them, and help us better think about how to structure knowledge engagements when there is a power imbalance.

panel Anth02
Hierarchies of knowledge production in academic collaborations between Africa and Europe [Panel of the Association for the Anthropology of Social Change and Development - APAD]