Political Education

"Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Difference".

Monday, March 8 2021 at 7 PM (Weekly event!)

Zoom Call (please RSVP for meeting link)


BuxMont DSA Steering Committee: buxmontsoc@gmail.com

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Event Info

Cultural norms among many leftist groups direct us to defer authority to marginalized people regarding issues that impact such groups the most. These norms are born of “standpoint epistemology”, or, the idea that our knowledge is socially situated and therefore that the “standpoint” of the oppressed gives them advantageous access to knowledge of experience within oppressive systems that the privileged lack. But when we put standpoint epistemology to practice in our organization, do we put undue pressure and burdens on the few marginalized people who’ve made it “in the room” to have the answers of liberation, regardless of their actual experiences or knowledge?

This week we read philosopher Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò’s reflections on standpoint epistemology in his essay “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Difference”. Táíwò finds standpoint epistemology to be a sound foundation for understanding the social nature of knowledge but challenges some of the practical norms it has inspired. He argues, however, that the social “rules” of deferral can create their own erasures and unfair expectations when only certain members of a marginalized group can make it into a “room” of a social space. Táíwò considers the need for us to create more collaborative, collective social norms that place the responsibility for developing knowledge to fight for a better world on everyone.