McMaster Philosophy Department Speaker Series Welcomes:
Lidal Dror (Princeton University)
Lived Experience, Theoretical Knowledge, and the Role of Allies in Social Movements
Many important social movements fight injustice and oppression that affects a particular group of people. One fraught question for such movements is what should the role of allies, or privileged out-group members – people not victims of said injustices – be. This talk defends the role of such allies against skeptics, who are wary of allies on epistemic grounds. I first defend the value of allies contributing “theoretical knowledge”, against those that only emphasize knowledge from “lived experience”. Second, I argue that allies with the right “lived experience” can also achieve the requisite knowledge to participate fully in social movements, even if there’s some epistemic advantage to being oppressed. Lastly, drawing on those skeptical of “allies”, including Malcolm X’s suggestive remarks on John Brown, I argue that instead of being primarily concerned about the social identities of participants in social movements, we should focus on the knowledge and lived experience they have.