Un/Doing Epistemic Violence
Volume XXXIX • Issue 1/2 • 2023

In Western academia, knowledge is often seen as being opposed to violence, whereas the latter, separated from its ideational and material context, is reduced to its most visible manifestations. As a consequence, the global entanglements of Western knowledge and the violent conditions of global modernity have become an academic non-issue, obscuring the role of knowledge in colonial and imperial enterprises. In contrast, the concept of epistemic violence brings into focus the constitutive relationship between knowledge, domination and violence in colonial modernity. Building on the critical traditions of feminist, post- and decolonial, and indigenous theorists, as well as including experiences from and within social movements, authors of this special issue explore violent formations of knowledge regarding the Global South and connect them to other forms of violence. They show how deeply embedded epistemic violence is in research practices, scholarly disciplines and academia in general. Furthermore, they search for counter-hegemonic ways of challenging and changing imperial modes of knowing the world and highlight the complex challenges of trying to undo epistemic violence. 


"The stimulating contributions in this special issue provide essential inspiration for the debates on epistemic violence." Anke Graneß/polylog 50 (see the whole book review in German here)


Schwerpunktredaktion: Brunner, Claudia

Print ISSN: 0258-2384│Online ISSN: 2414-3197









Inhalt dieser Ausgabe
Claudia Brunner

Un/Doing Epistemic Violence while Trying to Change the World

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 5-29https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-5
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

The aim of this introduction to the present JEP volume on epistemic violence is threefold: by linking a post- and decolonial perspective to the productively ambivalent German notion of Gewalt, I first argue why it is important to keep analysing and theorising epistemic violence across different scholarly disciplines and fields of (academic) knowledge production. Second, and based on the concept of the coloniality of power, knowledge, and being, I present a multi-disciplinary approach to the concept of epistemic violence that is rooted in multi-disciplinary efforts to work with it. Based on a multitude of approaches to the problem, readers from many disciplines can find ways to make use of it within their own terrain of knowledge. Third, I introduce the notion of Hegemonie(selbst-)kritik in order to link the heterogeneous efforts of dealing with epistemic violence, both as a phenomenon and as a concept, that are presented in this volume, with a deep reflection on our own scholarly practices across modernity’s epistemic territory and its Euro-Anglo-American epistemic monoculture. The latter has inspired the title and focus of this article. Since even critical scholarship cannot transcend the double-bind that comes along with knowledge production in colonial modernity, we should remember that our efforts to undoing epistemic violence remain entangled with the colonial condition. This is why I suggest speaking of un/doing epistemic violence instead of claiming to be able to fully undo it.

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Brunner, Claudia (2020): Epistemische Gewalt. Wissen und Herrschaft in der kolonialen Moderne, Bielefeld: Transcript. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783839451311 


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Vázquez, Rolando (2011): Translation as Erasure. Thoughts on Modernity’s Epistemic Violence. In: Journal of Historical Sociology 24(1), 27–44. https://doi. org/10.1111/j.1467-6443.2011.01387.x 


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Epistemic violence, knowledge, decolonisation, academia, colonial modernity


Farida Global Writing Collective

Undoing Epistemic Violence in Academic Knowledge Production through Survivors’ Participation: Learning from the Experiences of Yazidi Survivors

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 30-49https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-30
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

In this paper, common experiences of survivors of the Yazidi genocide of being silenced in academic knowledge production processes and (higher) education are discussed (as examples of doing epistemic violence). Based on this, we formulate recommendations to the academic community and derive first proposals for the implementation of these in the areas of research and teaching (as examples of undoing epistemic violence). By this means, we want to contribute to a process that initiates a thorough discussion on the ethical, equal, and permanent participation of survivors in academic knowledge production processes.

Brunner, Claudia (2020): Epistemische Gewalt. Wissen und Herrschaft in der kolonialen Moderne. Bielefeld: transcript. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783839451311 


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survivors, silencing, epistemic violence, epistemicide, decolonising academia


Christina Pauls

Performing Cracks in Public Memory: Undoing Epistemic Violence Through Artistic Interventions

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 50-73https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-50
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

The article explores the potentials and challenges of artistic interventions for undoing epistemic violence in public urban memory. Focusing on temporal imaginaries that underlie the politics of memory and their contestations, it problematises the coloniality of time materialised in practices of monumentalisation which inscribe epistemic violence onto public urban space. Focusing on the intervention ‘Bismarck-Dekolonial’, which addresses the world’s largest monument to Otto von Bismarck, in Hamburg, the article applies an analytic framework of epistemic fissure that lays bare the cracks in the Western temporal imaginary and traces the complexities of ‘doing’ and ‘undoing’ epistemic violence.

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Vázquez, Rolando (2011): Translation as Erasure: Thoughts on Modernity’s Epistemic Violence. In: Journal of Historical Sociology 24(1), 27-44. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6443.2011.01387.x

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postcolonial urban activism, decolonial interventions, epistemic fissure, Bismarck, relational temporalities


Mechthild Exo

Democratic Peace Concepts Beyond the Abyss: Examples from Afghanistan, Nagaland, and Kurdistan

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 74-99https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-74
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Peace concepts from three grassroots political processes in different countries are presented, which are based on alternative logics to the militaristic, state-centred ‘liberal peace’ and have a basis in independent authorisation and knowledge production. There, it is not primarily about intra-scientific, subversive work towards a change of the dominant scientific institutions, but rather on parallel forms of authority over knowledge, with their own institutions, embedded in democratic, gender-liberating processes of societal self-organisation. Thus, epistemic violence is overcome through the material construction of counter-models of societal organisation. However, these are in turn attacked both epistemically and physically-materially. 


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peace concepts, self-organised society, democratic confederalism, decolonial science, Jineolojî 


Melanie Hussak

Exploring Self-in-Relation: UnDoing Epistemic and Ontological Violence in the Context of Indigenous Peace

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 100-121https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-100
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Indigenous scholars have criticised the hegemony of Western epistemologies and ontologies as constituting profound aspects of the colonial process, marginalising and erasing Indigenous knowledge. Based on my research experiences in the field of Peace Studies with Indigenous communities in North America, I discuss the transformative claims of Indigenous relational research paradigms that require far-reaching changes in the positioning and role of the researcher. Informed by an approach of self-in-relation, I reflect on the potential and limitations of reducing epistemic and ontological violence in Peace Studies from the perspective of a European researcher.

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Indigenous peaces, Indigenous research paradigms, Peace Studies, epistemic and ontological violence, Dakota and Lakota

Lena Merkle

Epistemological Anarchism Against Epistemic Violence? A Rereading of Paul Feyerabend towards the Decolonisation of Academic Knowledge Production

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 122-138https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-122
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

This paper aims at a rereading of Paul Feyerabend’s later work through the lens of decolonial research and towards the aim of contributing to the debates around epistemic violence. Three of Feyerabend’s ideas, namely epistemological anarchism, democratic relativism and the likeness of science and myth, are chosen as essential elements of Feyerabend’s critical perspective of scientific hegemony. They are evaluated, against the backdrop of epistemic violence in scientific research, on the levels of the coloniality of knowledge production and concerning the entanglements of science and society and state. The paper concludes that Feyerabend’s proposal towards concrete action is promising and could add to the project of decolonisation through a restructuring of academia in the global North.

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Feyerabend, epistemological anarchism, democratic relativism, coloniality of knowledge, epistemic violence

Simone Müller

Undoing Epistemic Violence in Educational Philosophy: Changing the Story with Donna Haraway’s SF

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 139-161https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-139
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

This paper aims at exploring the potentials of a post-dualistic narrative approach to doing theory for facilitating the undoing of epistemic violence with a special focus on educational philosophy. Using ‘SF’ – an approach developed by Donna Haraway – methodological, epistemological and ontological aspects of epistemic violence are subjected to a critical reflection. One of the main conclusions from this elaboration is that being sensitive to epistemically violent theories, concepts and practices of knowledge production is crucial, but not enough. Rather, it seems to be important for undoing epistemic violence to think about theory and theorising in a radically different, post-anthropocentric way.

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Anthropocene, relationality, SF, response-ability, ethico-onto- epistemology

Ursula Posratschnig

Epistemic Violence and the Carnistic Matrix: Intersecting Oppressive Hierarchies among Human and Animal Others

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 162-184https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-162
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Animals are subject to epistemic violence through their definition as other and less than human in the western imagination. Their exploitation is based on anthropocentric and speciesist ideas, and occurs most notably in the global meat industry. Although billions of other animals are subjected to extreme violence, and severe social injustice and environmental destruction are inherent in its production, meat consumption is constructed as a benign cultural practice in the carnistic matrix. The joint oppression of animals and humans in the meat industry and in other contexts shows that ‘species’ is closely connected to other markers of difference including race, class and gender. Considering species equally may facilitate un-doing epistemic violence through a better understanding of the oppression of other animals and how it ties in with oppressive hierarchies among humans.

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epistemic violence, othering, anthropocentrism, speciesism, carnism, ethical veganism, animal rights activism, global neoliberal capitalis

Andreas Exner, Raphael Ferbas

Pluriversity, Epistemic Selectivity and Social Ecological Transformation: The Example of Latin American Universities

Sprache: EnglischSeiten: 193-217https://doi.org/10.20446/JEP-2414-3197-39-1-193
  • Abstract
  • Literatur
  • Keywords

Modern educational systems in Latin America have marginalised the diversity of epistemologies and ontologies that had shaped Abya Yala before colonisation. By separating culture and nature, modernity is disassembling and thus destroying the webs of life. Reducing the onto-epistemological plurality to the ‘one world’ and ‘one university’ of modernity is the root of contemporary social ecological crises. The paper investigates how different violent epistemic selectivities perform this onto-epistemological reduction in the modern university. Three examples of educational and research practices within Latin American universities demonstrate how such selectivities can be overcome in favour of a pluriversity. In concluding, the paper outlines conditions that are required for such attempts to successfully promote social ecological transformation.

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crisis, epistemology, epistemic selectivities, ontology, pluriverse, pluriversity, university, social ecological transformation

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