José Medina, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University, kicked off our series of Short-term Visiting Fellows lectures for the 2021 – 2022 academic year on September 22nd and 23rd as the first of our three Whitney J. Oates Visiting Fellows in the Humanities Council and the Department of Philosophy. Medina said he was giving the lectures in honor of his friend and colleague Professor Charles Mills, author of the seminal philosophy text “The Racial Contract,” who had passed away earlier that week.
Known for his work in critical race theory, feminist and queer theory, political philosophy, communication theory and social epistemology, Medina’s first lecture provided an analysis of epistemic oppression as a group phenomenon – arguing that it happens simultaneously at both the level of social interaction and at the institutional level – and that resisting such epistemic oppression requires what he calls epistemic activism: resistant collective epistemic action aimed at changing both group dynamics and institutional arrangements.
Building on the arguments put forth in his first lecture, Medina’s second lecture, “Protest, Silencing, and Solidarity,” focused on the Black Lives Matter movement to analyze the expressive power of street protests, the different ways in which such protests are silenced, and ways of resisting silencing through epistemic activism.
The lectures were also co-sponsored by the Program in Latin American Studies.