2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Investigating the Epistemology of Ignorance

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Michael Kreiter and Dr. Arthur Scarritt


In exploring the relationship between Neoliberalism and race in higher education, I use literature such as Charles Mill’s “Epistemology of Ignorance,” particularly the component of historical amnesia, as well as T. Elon Dancy II and his co-authors ``Historically white Universities and Plantation Politics: Anti-Blackness and Higher Education in the Black Lives Matter Era” to show the continuing legacy of Black folks’ objectification of American higher education. In this research project, I argue that white students engage in the epistemology of ignorance to avoid their responsibility to social justice with phrases like “I’m not the person to talk about this” or “I have to pick my battles.” Anti-racism for racial/ ethnic equity is then thrust upon the BIPOC community, whose activism is a fight for survival. I use data from my sociology research lab in which a group of six students has been split into two groups of three, conducting interviews with current undergraduate students at BSU. In these interviews, we ask students about their motivation to attend an institution like Boise State, their race and class influence in their academic pursuits, and their interactions with and experiences of diversity on the Boise State University campus and within the curriculum offered by the institution. Some of our preliminary findings indicate a profoundly entrenched and internalized ideology of colorblindness, which tracks well with the literature on mechanisms of racism in the “post-racial” American society. As a solution, drawing from Dancy et al.’s theory of the “New Plantation,” I argue for a Black-centered curriculum to allow students like myself to finally be able to learn and not teach or have to be a show for the University’s performativity attempts of diversity rhetorics.

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