PIKSI public lecture series: Linda Martín Alcoff, “Extractivist Epistemologies”
Linda Martín Alcoff is professor of philosophy at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY.
ABSTRACT: This paper (which is very much a work in progress) will develop the concept of extractivist epistemology as a way to think through the effect of colonialism on knowing practices. Extractivist epistemologies work analogously to extractivist capitalism: seeking an epistemic resource of some sort—such as a piece of pharmacological knowledge held by an indigenous community or rural healer concerning the medicinal potential of a given plant, or an artifact from an indigenous funeral site. The extractivist approach to knowledge treats this epistemic resource as a piece of knowledge that can be separated from the social context and identities of its origin without epistemic loss. In so doing, extractivist practices change the items that are abstracted. I will show how this is this is an epistemic problem and not simply an ethical problem.