New year’s resolutions that are not about me

by Ingrid Robeyns on January 1, 2024

Happy 2024 everyone! May there be no more wars, no more avoidable suffering, and justice for all. That’s a steep wish-list, but then I am one of those who thinks that giving up is not an option, and that [almost] everyone has opportunities to contribute to make us move into that direction.

In that spirit, I made three resolutions for 2024: one for myself, one for a specific very vulnerable person, and one political resolution, for society at large.

I can already hear the cynic laughing: New Year’s resolutions don’t work! Resolutions are for weak people who could have solved their problems long ago if they were a little more decisive. With New Year’s resolutions we only fool ourselves. The cynic pours himself another drink, and has a good laugh at those who make resolutions. [click to continue…]

Geopolitics of knowledge is a fact. Only few (conservative) colleagues would contend otherwise. Ingrid Robeyns wrote an entry for this blog dealing with this problem. There, Ingrid dealt mostly with the absence of non-Anglophone colleagues in political philosophy books and journals from the Anglophone centre. I want to stress that this is not a problem of language, for there are other centres from which we, philosophers from the “Global South” working in the “Global South”, are excluded. In political philosophy, the centre is composed of the Anglophone world and three European countries: Italy, France, and Germany. From my own experience, the rest of us do not qualify as political philosophers, for we are, it seems, unable to speak in universal terms. We are, at best, providers of particular cases and data for Europeans and Anglophones to study and produce their own philosophical and universal theories. I think most of you who are reading are already familiar with the concept of epistemic extractivism, of which this phenomenon is a case. (If not, you should; in case you don’t read Spanish, there is this).

Critical political philosophy is one of the fields where the unequal distribution of epistemic authority is more striking. I say “striking” because it would seem, prima facie, that political philosophers with a critical inclination (Marxists, feminists, anti-imperialists, etc.) are people more prone to recognising injustice than people from other disciplines and tendencies. But no one lives outside a system of injustice and no one is a priori completely exempt from reproducing patterns of silencing. Not even ourselves, living and working in the “Global Southern” places of the world. Many political philosophers working and living in Latin America don’t even bother to read and cite their own colleagues. This is, to be sure, a shame, but there is a rationale behind this self-destructive practice. Latin American scholars know that their papers have even lesser chances of being sent to a reviewing process (we are usually desk-rejected) if they cite “too many” pieces in Spanish and by authors working outside of the academic centre. [click to continue…]