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Extractivist epistemologies

philosopher's steps
Thursday, May 6, 2021, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Philosophy Department of the Central European University, the Institute Vienna Circle and the Unit for Applied Philosophy of Science and Epistemology (of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Vienna) are jointly organizing a series of talks.

Please see the details of the first talk below or save the date for the following lectures:

  • 20 May: Heidi Grasswick
  • 27 May: Adrian Currie
  • 10 June: Patricia Blanchette
  • 17 June: Gaile Pohlhaus; Ruth Weintraub
  • 24 June: Marta Sznajder

The meetings will be online via ZOOM:

You can also log into our meetings through the Zoom application (rather than by clicking the link above), by using the following credentials:
Meeting-ID: 987 6775 8229
Password: IVC-APSE


This paper (which is very much a work in progress) will develop the concept of extractivist epistemology as a way to think through the effect of colonialism on knowing practices. Extractivist epistemologies work analogously to extractivist capitalism: seeking an epistemic resource of some sort---such as a piece of pharmacological knowledge held by an indigenous community or rural healer concerning the medicinal potential of a given plant, or an artifact from an indigenous funeral site. The extractivist approach to knowledge treats this epistemic resource as a piece of knowledge that can be separated from the social context and identities of its origin without epistemic loss. In so doing, extractivist practices change the items that are abstracted. I will show how this is this is an epistemic problem and not simply an ethical problem.