03/02/2010 17:01

Epistemic Injustice: The Occupation of Rigoberta Menchú

Mindi Torrey
Michigan State University

Epistemic Injustice: The Occupation of Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchú's testimonio, I, Rigoberta Menchu, an Indian Woman in Guatemala has generated a great deal of political discussion in the academy. Anthropologist David Stoll has ignited a controversy that has focused primarily on the question of how to employ the text in Western universities. This paper explores important epistemological questions, which have been concealed by the political debate. I employ Miranda Fricker's account of epistemic injustice to show how Menchú suffers structural harm in the form of hermeneutical injustice due to identity prejudice. Next, I show that Menchú suffers harm due to Stoll’s uptake of her testimonio and, moreover, that Fricker’s paradigm is insufficient in explaining the epistemic injustice executed by Stoll. Fricker allows for the fact of oppression, but she does not account for individual acts of oppression. Finally, I propose an account of epistemic injustice that illuminates Stoll’s aggression toward Menchú and holds him responsible for his actions.