Towards an epistemological monoculture: Mechanisms of epistemicide in European research publication

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The term "epistemicide" was coined by the sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos to describe the systematic eradication of Third World knowledges by "Western" science. However, even within Europe there are various epistemo-logical traditions encoded into different discourses in different languages that are now being threatened by the inexorable expansion of English academic discourse (EAD) as the only acceptable vehicle for knowledge in the modern world. This chapter examines the way that epistemicide operates in the current academic context. It suggests that the primary mechanism is discursive - implicit in the translation, revision and editing procedures used to bring academic papers into line with the dominant norms - but that this is backed up by a series of non-discursive mechanisms that reinforce the hegemony of EAD and, by extension, the empiricist paradigm, through "quality-control" and, crucially, resource allocation procedures. The result, it is argued, will be an epistemological monoculture of global proportions in which alternative knowledges are systematically eliminated in the interests of "quality".

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish as a Scientific and Research Language: Debates and Discourses: English in Europe, Volume 2
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781614516378
ISBN (Print)9781614517498
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015


  • Cultural gatekeepers
  • Empiricist paradigm
  • English academic discourse
  • Epistemicide
  • Research funding


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