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HP17 - Understanding Epistemic Erasures of Local & Indigenous Communities: Decolonising Research and Re-imagining Alternative Partnerships in Development Studies

Convened by Yafa El Masri (COST Action Decolonizing Development/University of Padova, Italy) and Paola Minoia (University of Turin)

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Academic scholarship in critical development studies defines Epistemic Erasure as the function of eliminating resources and categories of knowledge from spaces of communication, rendering entire communities as second-class knowers who are seen as unfit to contribute rationally to a knowledge consensus, policy, or decision-making. This deficit of credibility usually arises from gender, ethnic and race-based prejudice. Epistemic erasures have been the basis for imposing Eurocentric models of living that are capitalist, colonial, racist, and patriarchal, and expressed through alleged “development” interventions. Instead, work in the margins inspired by post-development visions, has unveiled a pluriverse of knowledges that have been oppressed, but still survive as alternative ways of living, feeling, being, and relating one another, showing that different societal models exist and cannot be reduced into the one the globalized/mainstream culture. This panel aims to expand the boundaries of the concept of epistemic erasures in a wide range of institutional designs at the local, national, regional, European and international levels by presenting research on alternative partnerships between actors from academia, civil society and politics that could contribute to recognizing, repairing and re-imagining new decolonial futures. Starting from the work of various scholars in the field, and shedding light on epistemic erasures in indigenous and local communities, we aim to understand the everyday inequalities of marginalized spaces both in Global North and South, and how they resist them through collective grassroots movements. Through giving an account to stories from the sites of resistance, this panel aims to engage with the local and/or indigenous knowledges, values and practices of the communities living on the fringes of society to forge epistemic spaces from colonial interventions, and create alternative intellectual spaces for critical thinking on development challenges.