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Alternative Epistemologies

A: Alternative Epistemologies (Convenor: Prof Sarah Colvin)

This course offers an intersectional introduction to thinking about narrative, power, and knowledge. In the first two seminars we will discuss theories of how race, class, gender, and other power relations determine what is ‘known’, exploring Mills’ and others’ understanding of epistemology as a ‘privileged universalization of the experience and outlook of a very limited (particularistic) sector of humanity – largely white, male, and propertied’ (Mills, 1988). We will also explore the development of the concept of epistemic injustice. In the second two seminars we will then address the possibilities and problems of alternative epistemologies and modes of narrative resistance. 

Participants are invited to bring their own experience and ideas to the seminar and to suggest additional or alternative reading. 

Background/introductory reading: Sarah Colvin and Stephanie Galasso, ‘Changing the Story: Epistemic Shifts and Creative Agency’, in Colvin and Galasso (eds), Epistemic Injustice and Creative Agency. Global Perspectives on Literature and Film. New York: Routledge 2023, 1-20

Seminar 1. Narrative and power

Michel Foucault, “Two Lectures’ (1976) in Foucault, Power/Knowledge. Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-77, ed. Colin Gordon. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf 1980, 78-108. E-book:

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ (1988); reprinted in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester, 1993, 66-111 

Lorraine Code, ‘Feminist Epistemology and the Politics of Knowledge: Questions of
Marginality’ (2014), in The Sage Handbook of Feminist Theory, ed. Mary Evans et al. Los Angeles: Sage 2014, 9-25. Available online:

Ken Plummer, “‘Whose side are we on?’ revisited: Narrative Power, Narrative Inequality, and a Politics of Narrative Humanity” in Symbolic Interaction (2019). Available online: 

Seminar 2. Epistemic Injustice

Charles Mills, “White Ignorance,” in Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, edited by Shannon Sullivan, and Nancy Tuana, State University of New York Press 2007, 13-38

Miranda Fricker, Epistemic Injustice. Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

Luvell Anderson, “Epistemic Injustice and the Philosophy of Race”, in Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. London: Routledge 2019 (2017), 139-48

Seminar 3. Alternative Epistemologies

Charles Mills, “Alternative Epistemologies”, Social Theory and Practice 14 (1988), Special Issue: Marxism Feminism: Powers of Theory/Theories of Power 237-63 

Jonathan O. Chimakonam, ‘African philosophy and global epistemic injustice’. Journal of Global Ethics 13 (2017): 120-37 

José Medina, “Epistemic Injustice and Epistemologies of Ignorance”. In Paul C. Taylor, Linda Martín Alcoff, Luvell Anderson (eds), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race. New York: Routledge 2018, 247-60 

Patricia Hill Collins, “Intersectionality and Epistemic Injustice”, in Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr, The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. London: Routledge 2017, 115-26

Seminar 4. Narrative / Resistance

José Medina, “Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and Guerilla Pluralism”, in Foucault Studies 12 (2011), 9-35

José Medina, The Epistemology of Resistance. Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013

Amy Allen, “Power/Knowledge/Resistance: Foucault and Epistemic Injustice”, in Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. London: Routledge 2019 (2017),187-94


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