CFP: Epistemic Decolonization (deadline: Mar. 1, 2020)

Special issue of Philosophical Papers

Guest editor: Veli Mitova (University of Johannesburg)

The growing body of work on epistemic injustice can be seen as falling roughly along two strands. The first involves understanding the phenomenon in relation to central epistemological (and moral) concepts, such as ‘knowledge’ and ‘(epistemic) agency’. The second focuses on epistemically unjust connections between knowledge and power, and aims to illuminate broader social issues that plague our patriarchal, racial, and supposedly post-colonial world. ‘Cultural imperialism’ and ‘decolonization’ have been discussed for generations, but only a subset of this work focuses on the epistemic features of these phenomena. Such work seeks to ‘decolonise knowledge’: to identify, disentangle, and rectify the power imbalances that arise in the light of the dominance of colonial practices determining what we know and do not know.

This special issue of Philosophical Papers aims to put these strands in dialogue with each other, by focusing our efforts toward understanding what it means to decolonise knowledge, and how to go about achieving this, in the light of recent discussions of the kinds of epistemic injustice there are in the social world.

Possible Questions (but not exhaustive):

·         What is epistemic colonization, and why – if at all – is it a useful notion? What are its important features?

·         If epistemic colonization is a socially systemic phenomenon, a feature of communities, then what kinds of epistemic injustice (are allowed or encouraged to) take place within an epistemically colonized community? Are some of these kinds currently overlooked in the literature?

·         How is epistemic colonization related to similar phenomena, such as the ignorance of the privileged, hermeneutical injustice, or so-called epistemicide?

·         What, precisely, are the wrongs of epistemic colonization? Are they moral, epistemic, and/or other kinds of wrongs? What are its central harms? How is life improved in the light of epistemic decolonization?

·         When and why do we want to decolonise knowledge? Is it a moral demand, or an epistemic one, or both? What are the aims of epistemic decolonization?

·         Should ‘decolonization’ ever mean ‘ridding of all colonial influences’, or is it always something weaker? Which institutions, traditions, and disciplines –educational and non-educational – need to be decolonized, and how? 

·         What are the virtues of the epistemically decolonized? What is the relationship between epistemic decolonization and consciousness-raising?

·         Will epistemic decolonization inevitably involve our following different norms or believing different things, from those we do now? Or might decolonization involve having a different epistemic relationship to colonial (ways of) thought? 

·         Is it coherent to theorize epistemic decolonization in English or other colonial languages?

·         Is theorizing epistemic decolonization justified in the light of more urgent problems facing the colonized? Might it be necessary for addressing those problems?

·         How are we to conceive of the epistemic decolonization of philosophy?

The deadline for receipt of submissions is 1 March 2020. This issue of Philosophical Papers, comprising both invited and submitted articles, will appear in July 2020.

Manuscripts must be prepared for anonymous review, and no longer than 6000 words, and must include a 200-word abstract. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically, as a pdf- or word-document attachment, to <>. Authors must include their full name, affiliation, and email address with their submission. Further enquires may be addressed to either Veli Mitova <> or Ward E. Jones <>.

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