Genocide Denial as Testimonial Oppression

Altanian, Melanie (2020). Genocide Denial as Testimonial Oppression. Social epistemology : a journal of knowledge, culture and policy, 35(2), pp. 133-146. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/02691728.2020.1839810

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This article offers an argument of genocide denial as an injustice perpetrated not only against direct victims and survivors of genocide, but also against future members of the victim group. In particular, I argue that in cases of persistent and systematic denial, i.e. denialism, it perpetrates an epistemic injustice against them: testimonial oppression. First, I offer an account of testimonial oppression and introduce Kristie Dotson’s notion of testimonial smothering as one form of testimonial oppression, a mechanism of coerced silencing particularly pertinent to genocide denialism. Secondly, I turn to the epistemology of genocide denialism and, using the example of Turkey’s denialism of the Armenian genocide, show how it presents what Linda Martín Alcoff calls a substantive practice of ignorance. Thirdly, I apply these considerations to individual practices of genocide denial and analyse the particular characteristics of testimony on genocide, the speaker vulnerabilities involved and the conditions under which hearers will reliably fail to meet the dependencies of a speaker testifying to genocide. Finally, I explore the harms that testimonial oppression perpetrates on members of the victim group, insofar as it systematically deprives them of epistemic recognition.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Altanian, Melanie


100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 120 Epistemology
100 Philosophy > 170 Ethics




Taylor & Francis


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Melanie Altanian

Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2020 09:35

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:41

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

genocide denial; testimonial oppression; substantive ignorance; silencing; epistemic recognition




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