Prof Alison Wylie (Departments of Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Washington - Seattle, Department of Philosophy, Durham University, UK) on "What Knowers Know Well: Why feminism matters, to archaeology for example".
Abstract: A growing number of critical/social epistemologists argue that, rather than compromising the integrity of empirical inquiry, situated interests and value commitments can be a crucial epistemic resource. I draw out the implications of this claim through analysis of 'gender archaeology', a vigorous research program that has in many ways transformed what we know about the past. Despite its roots in a set of recognizably feminist critiques of disciplinary androcentrism and sexism, some of its strongest advocates deny that they are in any way influenced by feminist politics. I question their conviction that research is only credible if it approximates a 'view from nowhere', and propose that we reformulate ideals of objectivity in terms that mobilize the situated interests and experience of diverse knowers. In particular, I argue that what’s required is not the absence of contextual values but an explicitly critical and constructionist standpoint on their role in knowledge production.