Navigating Epistemic Pushback in Feminist and Critical Race Philosophy Classes

Alison Bailey
Illinois State University
My contribution to this conversation sets out to accomplish two things: First, I offer a definition of epistemic pushback. Epistemic pushback is an expression of epistemic resistance that occurs regularly in classroom discussions that touch our core beliefs, sense of self, politics, or worldv iews. Epistemic pushback is structural: It broadly characterizes a family of cognitive, affective, and verbal tactics that are deployed regularly to dodge the challenging and exhausting chore of engaging topics and questions that scare us. It can take such forms as direct deep hostility, knee jerk skepticism, or silence. Good teaching should not only track the production of knowledge, but also the production of ignorance. There are forms of epistemic pushback that are ignorance producing, so I work with students to cultivate a mindfulness around epistemic pushback by treating it as a ‘shadow text.’ The remainder of the paper explains the nature of shadow texts, and offers suggestions for how to navigate them.
Keywords Epistemic Resistance  Teaching Philosophy  Epistemologies of Ignorance  Shadow Texts  Epistemic Pushback
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