Epistemic injustice in agricultural development: Critical reflections on a livestock development project in rural Mozambique


  • Birgit Boogaard Wageningen University


epistemic justice, development, agriculture, goat keeping, Africa, epistemologies, indigenous knowledge


For decades Western development projects have been intervening in Africa?s agriculture with the aim to reduce poverty and hunger. Since colonization and beyond the political independence of Africa, the West, primarily but including other countries, has practiced exclusion, systematic and structural suppression of African ways of knowing and doing. This constitutes epistemic injustice. In this paper I address a central question that has gained little attention so far. It is: do Western agricultural development projects in Africa maintain, reinforce, or even cause epistemic injustice? To answer this question, I draw on studies in African philosophy, Western philosophy and Western sociology. To empirically study epistemic injustice, I reflect critically on a livestock development project in rural Mozambique (2011-2013) via qualitative analysis of 27 project documents. The findings show that the answer to the main question is affirmative. The findings of this study are deeply concerning, because it means that epistemic injustice towards Africa continues, but is covered under benign concepts like 'reducing poverty' and 'reducing hunger.' The thesis defended here is that restoring epistemic justice is an essential part of social justice for Africa.


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