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Thursday Night Philosophy Workshop: Satya Mohanty on “Intersectionality and Epistemic Privilege"

Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

Satya P. Mohanty was born in Orissa, India, and was educated in India and the United States. His work in literary criticism and theory has focused on issues that are shaped by his bi-cultural background and his commitment to a vision of culture as “a field of moral inquiry” (on this view of culture, see chapter 7 of Literary Theory and the Claims of History). In the field of literary and cultural theory, Mohanty is best known for his “post-positivist realist” theory, a position that is simultaneously a critique of postmodernist theory and an elaboration of a radical alternative to it. Postpositivist realism draws on recent analytic philosophy and has major implications for such key theoretical questions as the nature of social identity, the value of objectivity as an epistemic goal, and the epistemic status of our moral and political values.  Mohanty’s theory of identity has been the subject of a major book published by the U of California Press, a collection of essays by literary scholars, intellectual historians, and philosophers that is titled Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism (edited by Paula Moya and Michael Hames-Garcia).

Mohanty has edited or coedited the following books: Colonialism, Modernity, Literature: A View From India; Identity Politics Reconsidered; The Future of Diversity; and the forthcoming China, India and Alternative Asian Modernities.  He is completing a book titled Thinking Across Cultures, to be published by Duke Univ Press.


This talk focuses on two concepts that are central to discussions of minority politics and social justice: intersectionality and the epistemic privilege of the oppressed.  Both concepts are often misunderstood as leading to separatism and essentialism, but this paper shows why they should be seen instead as crucial components of an adequate social theory and a cogent theory of social identity, theories that can be the basis of a progressive politics of coalition and solidarity.  

Presented by The New School for Social Research (NSSR) Philosophy Department

Sponsored by MaP ("Minorities and Philosohy").  

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


Intellectual Culture and Big Ideas


The New School for Social Research, Department of Philosophy




Free; No Registration required

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