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  • Writer's pictureKiran Kaur

Epistemic injustice in Ethical Practices


Ben Grama, Nairita Roy Chaudhuri and Maria Jose Recalde-Vela

I am excited to share the recent publication of our open-access article titled Ethics and Epistemic Injustice in the Global South: A Response to Hopman’s Human Rights Exceptionalism as Justification for Covert Research that I had the opportunity to work on alongside my colleagues from the EDOLAD program.

Our collaborative work examines the issue of epistemic injustice in ethical practices of human rights-based research, focusing on studies conducted in the Global South. In developing our analysis, we responded to a previous article by an author who conducted covert research in Western Sahara and argued that obtaining ethical consent from participants isn't necessary under certain conditions. Specifically critiquing the three-pronged ethical test suggested by Hopman to justify covert research in Global South communities.

In our response, we reflected on the implications of the author's assertion that ethical permission from a western university could justify bypassing the need for consent from research subjects. Drawing on critical theory and decolonial scholars, we argued that such practices contribute to the ongoing extraction of knowledge from Global South communities, perpetuating a legacy of coloniality and epistemic injustice. Our article highlights the importance of reciprocity and the exploration of epistemic justice as an alternative to these harmful research practices, which have long-lasting

consequences on marginalized populations.

The issue of epistemic injustice is also particularly relevant in refugee-related research. All too often, human rights practitioners, NGOs, and researchers engage in extractivist work without obtaining informed consent from the refugees themselves. This not only undermines the refugees' ability to participate in the knowledge production process but also disregards their invaluable insights into their own lives, perspectives on human rights, and aspirations for a brighter future. By emphasizing the need for reciprocity and epistemic justice, we hope to encourage a more ethical and inclusive approach to academic research in the Global South, fostering an environment where everyone's voice is heard and valued.

We hope you take time to engage with our work and promote greater discussion on these topics. Click here to check out the article in the Journal of Human Rights Practice.

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