Epistemologies of Discomfort: What Military-Family Anti-War Activists Can Teach Us about Knowledge of Violence

Studies in Social Justice 4 (1):25-45 (2010)
Abstract
This paper examines the particular relevance of feminist critiques of epistemic authority in contexts of institutionalized violence. Reading feminist criticism of “experts” together with theorists of institutionalized violence, Stone-Mediatore argues that typical expert modes of thinking are incapable of rigorous knowledge of institutionalized violence because such knowledge requires a distinctive kind of thinking-within-discomfort for which conventionally trained experts are ill-suited. The author demonstrates the limitations of “expert” modes of thinking with reference to writings on the Iraq war by Michael Ignatieff and Fouad Ajami. Finally, the author turns to a newly active group of epistemic agents—anti-war relatives of soldiers--to examine the role that undervalued epistemic traits can play in knowledge of war and other forms of structural violence.
Keywords feminist epistemology  militarism  epistemic authority  Hannah Arendt  Simone Weil  Dorothy Smith  Lorraine Code  Michael Ignatieff
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