The Epistemology of Protest: Silencing, Epistemic Activism, and the Communicative Life of Resistance

José Medina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBook

4 Scopus citations


This book offers a polyphonic theory of protest as a mechanism for political communication, group constitution, and epistemic empowerment. The book analyzes the communicative power of protest to break social silences and disrupt insensitivity and complicity with injustice. Medina also elucidates the power of protest movements to transform social sensibilities and change the political imagination. Medina's theory of protest examines the obligations that citizens and institutions have to give proper uptake to protests and to communicatively engage with protesting publics in all their diversity, without excluding or marginalizing radical voices and perspectives. Throughout the book, communicative and epistemic arguments are given for the value of imagining with protest movements and for taking seriously the radical political imagination exercised in social movements of liberation. Medina's theory sheds light on the different ways in which protest can be silenced and the different communicative and epistemic injustices that protest movements can face, arguing for forms of epistemic activism that resist silencing and communicative/epistemic injustices while empowering protesting voices. While arguing for democratic obligations to give proper uptake to protest, the book underscores how demanding listening to protesting voices can be under conditions of oppression and epistemic injustice. A central claim of the book is that responsible citizens have an obligation to echo (or express communicative solidarity with) the protests of oppressed groups that have been silenced and epistemically marginalized. Studying social uprisings, the book further argues that citizens have a duty to join protesting publics when grave injustices are in the public eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages442
ISBN (Electronic)9780197660904
ISBN (Print)9780197660911
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • ACT UP
  • Black Lives Matter
  • activism and active citizenship
  • communicative and epistemic injustice
  • democratic obligations
  • liberation movements
  • protest and protest movements
  • silence and silencing
  • social imagination
  • social sensibility/insensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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