Eur08


The politics and epistemic value of positionality 
Convenors:
Lerato Posholi (University of Basel)
Ralph Weber (University of Basel)
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Stream:
African researchers in the European academic system
Format:
Panel
Location:
Room 1228
Sessions:
Friday 10 June, 9:00-10:30 (UTC+2)

Short Abstract:

It has become an unquestioned trend to assume that social location (positionality) determines epistemic location. The purpose of the panel is to critically examine the relationship between social location and epistemic location.

Long Abstract

It has become an unquestioned trend to acknowledge that there is a relationship between social location (positionality) and epistemic location. In its radical version, the relationship is claimed to be such that social location determines epistemic location. Kindling this idea of a strong relationship between social location and epistemic location is what can be called the thesis of the 'epistemic privilege of the marginalized'. According to this thesis, there are 'special' epistemic resources that accompany marginalized positions in society. This thesis is central in critical traditions such as Marxism, feminism and decolonial theory. In decolonial theory, for example, the marginal position occupied by scholars from the global South is generally touted as an epistemic resource that should be harnessed to facilitate reciprocity in global knowledge production and advance a critical understanding of the global order. At the same time, the notion of situated knowledge carries the implication that all knowledge is limited because of the social locatedness of knowledge production. This panel critically examines the different ways in which the relationship between social location and epistemic location can be formulated. Our main goal is to delineate the constraints and possibilities of positionality as epistemic resource in knowledge production.

Accepted papers: