Offending White Men: Racial Vilification, Misrecognition, and Epistemic Injustice

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 4 (4):1-24 (2018)
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Abstract
In this article I analyse two complaints of white vilification, which are increasingly occurring in Australia. I argue that, though the complainants (and white people generally) are not harmed by such racialized speech, the complainants in fact harm Australians of colour through these utterances. These complaints can both cause and constitute at least two forms of epistemic injustice (willful hermeneutical ignorance and comparative credibility excess). Further, I argue that the complaints are grounded in a dual misrecognition: the complainants misrecognize themselves in their own privileged racial specificity, and they misrecognize others in their own marginal racial specificity. Such misrecognition preserves the cultural imperialism of Australia’s dominant social imaginary—a means of oppression that perpetuates epistemic insensitivity.Bringing this dual misrecognition to light best captures the indignity that is suffered by the victims of the aforementioned epistemic injustices. I argue that it is only when we truly recognize difference in its own terms, shifting the dominant social imaginary, that “mainstream Australians”can do their part in bringing about a just society.
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