Cultural Pluralism and Epistemic Injustice

Journal of Nationalism, Memory and Language Politics 13 (2):1-12 (2019)
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For liberalism, values such as respect, reciprocity, and tolerance should frame cultural encounters in multicultural societies. However, it is easy to disregard that power differences and political domination also influence the cultural sphere and the relations between cultural groups. In this essay, I focus on some challenges for cultural pluralism. In relation to Indian political theorist Rajeev Bhargava, I discuss the meaning of cultural domination and epistemic injustice and their historical and moral implications. Bhargava argued that as a consequence of colonialism, “indigenous cultures” were inferiorized, marginalized, and anonymized. Although cultures are often changing due to external influences, I argue that epistemic injustice implies that a culture is forced to subjection, disrespected, and considered as inferior and that it threatens the dominated people’s epistemic framework, collective identity, and existential security. Finally, I refer to John Rawls’s theory of political liberalism as a constructive approach to avoid parochialism and Western cultural domination

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Göran Collste
Linkoping University


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