Melanie Altanian (UCD/Bern), 'The Epistemology of Genocide'
It is commonly argued that genocides are based on a very effective lie supported by conspiracy thinking on behalf of the perpetrating group, namely that the targeted group presents an existential threat intent on annihilating them if they did not annihilate them first. This is done by integrating the targeted group into a real or imagined, powerful enemy. Genocides are thus prepared by lies and carried out in lies, and these lies prepare the grounds for subsequent genocide denialism. However, genocide denialism consists of more than systematic disinformation or propagandistic lies about a community’s particular circumstances. Unlike lying, denying precludes the acceptance of the truth of what actually happened. It rather points to the “active effort not to see, no matter what the evidence may be; as a result of constant distortion and redescription” (Medina, Epistemology of Resistance, 35) of the injustice. As such, its efforts also involve the distortion and obstruction of the very moral concepts and practices through which we (individually or collectively) gain knowledge and make sense of such injustices, such as the concept of “genocide”, or practices of genocide remembrance and social restoration. In this talk, I provide an analysis of genocide denialism as a substantive epistemic practice guided by particular cognitive norms of assessment (of evidence or sources of evidence) and faulty, problematic interpretive resources that actively generate and maintain ignorance about the subject matter of genocide. Identifying such ignorant agency requires taking into account structural conditions and how they generate epistemically disadvantageous or defective identities, social locations and modes of belief formation (Alcoff, Epistemologies of Ignorance, 40) or epistemic vices. This will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the practices and mechanisms that generate and sustain ignorance about genocide, as well as its pernicious implications.
Contact Suzanne Whitten (firstname.lastname@example.org) for link.
|Name||Dr Suzanne Whitten|