Towards an Insurrectionary Power/Knowledge: Movement-Relevance, Anti-Oppression, Prefiguration
(2015) Social Movement Studies, 16 p. Article in Press.
Despite ongoing efforts to articulate radical methods and theoretical frameworks for social movement research, the field remains embedded in exploitative, oppressive, and hierarchical modes of knowledge production. Following Foucault, I argue that this is because societies like ours, founded through racial and patriarchal violence, are invested in a regime of truth supportive of that violence. In light of this, I argue that social movements scholars need to adopt a radically different form of knowledge practice. Building on anarchist, anti-racist feminist, and anti-colonial scholarship, this paper begins by analysing how liberalism constrains social justice organizing and how academic norms foreclose accountable social movements scholarship. I then introduce three unique ethics emerging in resistance to this situation: movement-relevant, anti-oppressive, and prefigurative. The first confronts the extractive imperatives of enlightenment truth-making; the second resists its neutral and disinterested tendencies; and the third models a rejection of its hierarchical and exclusive mode of authority. I argue that together they provide scholars with a strategy for re-/orienting their research towards what Foucault theorizes as an insurrection of knowledges. These three ethical frameworks combine to facilitate an insurrectionary power/knowledge that fosters collective struggle as it progressively dismantles the regime of truth underlying social movements research.
activism; anti-oppression; movement-relevance; power/knowledge; prefiguration; Research ethics; social movements