Commentary: Epistemological Positionalities

Singh, Jaspal (2021). Commentary: Epistemological Positionalities. Applied Linguistics, 42(6) pp. 1168–1175.



Understanding how people resist European colonial modernity by collaboratively constructing southern epistemological positionalities is crucial for plotting plans about what applied linguists can do to promote social justice in the third decade of the 21st century. Epistemological positionalities describe how speakers metapragmatically theorize the knowledge they make or do not make relevant in communication. From the articles collected in this volume we learn how previously colonized people find new ways to re-envision what kinds of knowledges are important to them, which knowledges oppress them and how they can know differently and collaboratively to advance social justice and imagine hopeful and liveable decolonial futures. In this commentary I emphasize that instead of simply giving previously colonised people bits of European modern knowledge (such as access to inner-circle Englishes), applied linguists must encourage the people who we research to theorize their own knowledge, i.e. to assume epistemological positionalities, that are meaningful to themselves and to the communities from which they come.

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