Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and <i>Guerrilla</i> Pluralism

  • José Medina Vanderbilt University


In this paper I argue that Foucaultian genealogy offers a critical approach to practices of remembering and forgetting which is crucial for resisting oppression and dominant ideologies. For this argument I focus on the concepts of counter-history and counter-memory that Foucault developed in the 1970’s. In the first section I analyze how the Foucaultian approach puts practices of remembering and forgetting in the context of power relations, focusing not only on what is remembered and forgotten, but how, by whom, and with what effects. I highlight the critical possibilities for resistance that this approach opens up, and I illustrate them with Ladelle McWhorter’s genealogy of racism in Anglo-America. In the second section I put the Foucaultian approach in conversation with contemporary work in pragmatism and critical theory on the social epistemology of memory. In the third and final section, I explore some of the implications of the Foucaultian notion of resistance and what I term guerrilla pluralism for contemporary epistemological discussions of ignorance in standpoint theory and race theory

Author Biography

José Medina, Vanderbilt University
José Medina is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and Distinguished Chair in the Humanities at the Carlos III University (Madrid, Spain). He works primarily in Philosophy of Language, Social Epistemology, and Political Philosophy, with a special focus on gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. He is the author of Speaking from Elsewhere (SUNY Press, 2006), Language: Key Concepts in Philosophy (Continuum, 2005), and The Unity of Wittgenstein’s Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2002). His forthcoming book is entitled The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and the Social Imagination. He has published numerous articles in journals such as Dialectica, Inquiry, Metaphilosophy, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Social Epistemology, etc.
How to Cite
Medina, J. (2011). Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and <i>Guerrilla</i&gt; Pluralism. Foucault Studies, (12), 9-35.
Special Issue on Foucault and Race