Medina 11 Jose, Ph. And this problematizes the notion of culpable ignorance. Genealogical investigations can be used to point out how these subjugated knowledges could have been used, how people could have known otherwise by drawing on them, how they could have become able to undo epistemic exclusions and stigmatizations. Their alt is complicity with subjugation — telling the oppressed to deal with it themselves.

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News Speaking for Others A philosophy PhD student explores how and why people come to be representatives for individuals whose identities and experiences are different from their own.

Her research interests encompass political and moral philosophy, the philosophy of law, philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and bioethics. Salkin began her doctoral studies at Harvard in before heading to Stanford Law School, where she earned her JD in She returned to Harvard in , and spent the — academic year as a graduate fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

In December , she was appointed a Harvard Horizons Scholar. What was the genesis of your dissertation? I wrote my paper on informal political representation.

That allowed me to try out an idea I was curious about, which was a good thing in my case because it served as the basis for my dissertation project.

What is informal political representation? An informal political representative is someone you did not elect, would not elect, of whom you may never have heard, but who speaks—or is speaking right now—on your behalf.

In my view, you may come into the position of an informal political representative by virtue of having that status ascribed to you by an audience. Someone else can—by encouraging you to speak or by hearing you say that you speak on behalf of others—claim that you speak for a certain group. What do informal representatives do?

Even though informal representatives are neither elected nor selected, they can be present in a number of contexts and they can be politically influential. For example, they may increase the visibility of marginalized and oppressed groups, give voice to interests not adequately expressed in formal political fora, influence public discourse, and serve as conduits between the represented and policymakers.

They can, as Martin Luther King, Jr. They can make it the case that an audience recognizes a collection of individuals as a group with shared politically salient interests. They can even make it the case that a collection of individuals come to see themselves as a group with shared interests. What are the implications or consequences of speaking for or about others?

Is it always an act of advocacy, or is it ever an act of appropriation that silences those seeking to be seen and heard in the public sphere? A number of problems might arise from being put in the position of speaking for others. You may not want to be taken to be speaking for anybody.

You might not want to be the designated speaker for a group. In my dissertation, I provide an account of how people come to be in that role. This, of course, is in tension with the concern that not being a member of the group may mean you are not well-situated to be the speaker for them. And so, I try to provide an account that is sensitive to tensions like those. It strikes me, too, that this is a phenomenon that is arising for us in new and unanticipated ways, as speakers and audiences find one another on Twitter and other social media platforms though they are geographically dispersed.

A contemporary example that I often discuss is Kim Kardashian West, who has an immense if that is even adequate to describe it social media presence, and who uses that platform in a number of ways, including to bring attention to the Armenian Genocide.

In virtue of that work, she often gets uptake not just as an Armenian-American celebrity, but as a spokesperson for Armenian Americans. How did you go about identifying the case studies in your dissertation? In my dissertation, I ask two central questions: What duties and permissions do informal representatives have toward those for whom they speak or act? And how do they come to have those duties and permissions? These questions have led me into both historical and contemporary debates in political philosophy, legal philosophy, philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and bioethics.

This inspired me to think about philosophy as a discipline where we should strive to engage with and respond to real world examples. Du Bois, and that text was a turning point in my thinking about informal representation. In several chapters in my dissertation, I engage with arguments advanced by Du Bois about the nature and scope of the role of the informal representative. Booker T.

Why law school? I knew from the time I was an undergraduate that I wanted to study law and I wanted to study philosophy, but decided not to apply to law and philosophy programs at the same time. My training in law has also guided me as a student of philosophy. It has helped me to better understand the ways the fields of philosophy and law intersect, how to advance a philosophical argument so that it is of interest both to philosophers and to broader audiences, and what sorts of legal questions may benefit from philosophical treatment.

Speaking for others seems essential to what it means it be a lawyer. Legal training prepares you to speak for others in ways that are very specific to the law: to look out for the interests of your client and to make sure they are well represented, given that in many cases a lawyer is going to know more about the law than their client.

How has your legal training shaped your philosophical thinking about the problem of speaking for and about others? I took a class on negotiation that informed some of my thinking about what a person is doing when they are speaking for others. Some of what I think about and write about in my dissertation concerns the varieties of speaking for others. This enabled me to make more and better distinctions between different ways people might speak for one another, and different purposes for which they might do so.

Speaking for Others.


Answering the Speaking for Others Critique by Linda Martin Alcoff

The question of who can, and who should, speak for whom is an enduring one within feminist thought. It comes up in research, teaching, and activist contexts. This question is important, regardless of whether you claim membership in that community or not, but is particularly salient for identity groups that have seen their histories erased, distorted, or only partially represented within dominant culture. This question has come up for me repeatedly in my own research on feminist magazines like BUST and Bitch. These are feminist texts, and yet I write in ways that are frequently critical of them. Sometimes, I worry sometimes that my criticism overrides what I see as the value of these texts. Rather, the rituals of speaking call our attention to the contexts in which speaking and being heard are made possible.


On the Problem of Speaking for Others


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