Do The Oppressed Really Know Best?

Spencer Case

Editors Note: This article was originally published on Arc and is written by NAS member Spencer Case.

Many intellectuals and activists believe that oppressed groups have special knowledge in virtue of their “lived experience” of oppression. According to this view, outsiders suffer an epistemic deficiency that they will only be able to remedy if they come to see and feel as the oppressed do. Until then, the oppressed deserve deference on a range of important issues.

A new effort of the British government reported in the Daily Telegraph appears to be guided by this theory. White male professors are to be paired with “reverse mentors” — younger, non-white female academics — in order to help the elderly mentees confront their biases. Since the junior mentors have less experience as scholars, their suitability as mentors must stem from their identities as marginalized individuals.

Despite the prevalence of this view, I’ve found no compelling evidence that one’s “lived experience” generally contributes much in the way of knowledge about public issues. Nor that marginalization provides grounds for intellectual deference.

Read the full article here >>


Image: stormtrooper star wars lego by aitoff // CC BY

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024

1.

Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024

2.

A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024

3.

The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

June 5, 2024

2.

Subpoenas for All!

Ohio Northern University knaws its teeth with an appitite for vindictive lawfare....

October 12, 2010

3.

Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...