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)
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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.

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Shari Stone-Mediatore
Ohio Wesleyan University