Epistemic Oppression and Academic Dependency

Epistemic oppression results from epistemic injustice built into the global knowledge production project. An aspect of this injustice is ‘hermeneutical injustice’ – the situation where a significant aspect of an individual’s social experience is obscured due to “prejudicial flaws in shared resources for social interpretation.” The obscurity of ‘other’ experiences often results from gate-keeping tendencies of the sites of knowledge production which leads to the further propagation of dominant ideas and experiences. This hermeneutical inequality has made Africa unable to tell its own stories, and to publish works that are based on practical experiences and contextual realities. At the extreme, there is an ‘uncritical receptivity’ to these dominating forms of knowledge which makes one vulnerable to the vice of gullibility. On the other hand, however, the denial and distortion of recognition that takes place with epistemic injustice reinforces existing oppression and damages the status in society of the putative knower. This then perpetuates the cycle of epistemic oppression.

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