ABSTRACT

Collins’s work challenges us to rethink objectivity-the idea that all things can be known through one, dominant way of knowing. Alternative epistemologies, in addition to being a standpoint from which to interpret and make sense of oppression, are also sites for resisting oppression. First, though, those alternative epistemologies must be known; we must recognize that all standpoints can contain valuable sources of knowledge. This doesn’t mean the same thing, however, as saying that all standpoints are equally true or valid. Rather, it means that what people know about the world is always illumined and distorted by their positions within it. For Collins, as well as many other critical race and feminist scholars, social theory has been distorted because it has largely refused to take into account the particular insights that women of color have to offer. Such insights challenge the white, male-centered categories historically used to construct social theory. Despite the many insights such theories offer, too often these binaries-whether West versus non-West, male versus female, objective versus subjective-constrain us from generating new, more accurate, inventive, and ethically sound social theory. The theorists in this section demonstrate that the way forward may require a new set of categories-and a new set of voices-altogether.