Discourses of the North Atlantic: Epistemology and Hegemony

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 17:45
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Celine-Marie PASCALE, Sociology, American University, Washington, DC, USA
The 21st century harkens what may be an unprecedented era of paradox, peril, and promise—for social life and for social research. New media technologies both facilitate and alienate human connections. The very processes that accelerate the expansion of global scholarship simultaneously consign global knowledge production to the more narrow realms of English-speaking scholars. In a 21st century knowledge-based global economy, the production, distribution, and use of knowledge and information has become a dominant economic force. As scholars, we must ask what does it mean to study social structure or interaction at this particular moment in history?  What does it mean to examine a “local” context?  What techniques will best enable an examination of global flows of information, people, and processes? Of power, privilege, and inequalities?

The premise of this presentation rests on the assertion sociological studies of language—in all of their variations—have uniquely important contributions to make to social research at this historical moment.  With relationality as an ontological premise, sociological studies of language demand that we pursue knowledge about the social world by examining social routes to knowledge.  Of particular relevance here, is the capacity to examine the historicity of localized contexts, the technological mediation of culture, the production of absence, and the subjective processes of social research.  Studies of language offer an effective means for apprehending relationality by linking together analyses of structure and agency, history and local interaction.

Studies of language have an uneven presence in Sociology that dates back to Gramsci. They surface most clearly in debates about the politics of knowledge production—as they did for Gramsci.  As we abandon notions of epistemic innocence, studies of language offer opportunities to deconstruct the colonaliality of North Atlantic epistemologies  that occupy contemporary geographies of knowledge production.