A Relational Analysis of Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance in Canada’s Settler-Colonial Context

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Bristy, Syeda Karishma




In this thesis, I expand and apply the work of Miranda Fricker, Gaile Pohlhaus, José Medina, and Christine Koggel to argue that willful hermeneutical ignorance is the most appropriate entry point for analyzing epistemic injustice between settlers and Indigenous people. I examine how early settler-colonial relationships of power and oppression have evolved to help sustain a form of epistemic injustice towards Indigenous communities in Canada. I investigate the colonial history, legal legacies, and myths that create the fundamental asymmetries of material and hermeneutical power. This background context highlights how this history impacts the respective racial/social/epistemic positionality of White settler society and racialized migrant communities. I argue that each group holds a performative and interactive role in silencing and marginalizing Indigenous knowers as equal and valid epistemic agents. Lastly, I incorporate the relational insights gained from my analysis to inform/propose counteractive measures to address epistemic injustice towards Indigenous communities in Canada.






Carleton University

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