Philosophy and Global Affairs

Volume 1, Issue 1, 2021

Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, Lewis R. Gordon
Pages 5-21

To Undiscipline Knowledge
Toward a New Geography of Reason

The social sciences were founded at the height of the Euromodern era when the belief in infinite expansion coexisted with the willingness to enclose, categorize, and lock up a large part of humanity. The invention of the social sciences was closely linked to this enterprise of disciplinarization of spaces and of populations which accompanied the expansion of capitalism and colonial conquest. Stigmatized, dominated, and colonized groups were constituted as objects by social scientists who considered themselves as pure subjects, and concealed the conditions under which they undertook their research and prohibited the colonized from expressing their own subjectivity. Colonization also imposed a binary cartography of the world and a geography of reason with obligatory references and strict disciplinary divisions. There are many ways to decolonize knowledge, but they remain marginal in a world where white male supremacy is also epistemological. The rejection of disciplinary decadence implies not only a critical but a metacritical gesture, and the refusal of the imperative of objectivation and non-engagement.