The Harms of Epistemicide
Examining Critical Book, Publishing, and Literacy Studies
Authors: Beth Patin and Melinda Sebastian
Expected: Summer 2023
The Harms of Epistemicide discusses epistemicide and epistemic injustice and how they intersect with books, literacy, and publishing. We define epistemicide as the killing, silencing, annihilation, or devaluing of a knowledge system (Patin et al., 2020). We believe epistemicide happens when several epistemic injustices occur that collectively reflect a structured and systemic oppression of particular ways of knowing. Epistemic injustice is the “wrong done to someone specifically in their capacity as a knower” (Fricker, 2007, p. 1). This book will describe different types of epistemic injustices in books, publishing practices, and in literacy studies and the harms these injustices further cause. There is a strong desire to understand the ways oppression manifests with this space and epistemicide is a much-needed framework to discuss these topics and points to justice-informed solutions. Epistemicide and epistemic injustice are legitimate ways of understanding and evaluating ways of knowing through a feminist, Indigenous, and liberatory lens. Publishing is a practice that ostensibly frames itself as concerned with epistemology, or ways of knowing, but often does not critically examine canonical norms. Books, publishing, and literacy are all inherently related to the ways we develop our epistemology. As book and informational professionals, we are responsible for what gets published and collected, and therefore have tasked ourselves with the responsibility to decide what is deemed worthy of knowing at all.
Beth Patin, MLIS, MIS, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. Beth’s research focuses on information equity, community resilience, and cultural responsiveness. Her current work focuses on epistemicide, libraries and community resilience, and reparative storytelling and the Civil Rights Movement.
Melinda Sebastian PhD is a senior policy analyst at Data & Society. Her research utilizes an intersectional ethical approach that focuses on structural inequalities in emergent ethical issues in media, technology, and information policy, with a particular focus on privacy, surveillance, algorithmic decision-making, and automation. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University in Culture, Communication, & Media.