Sociology of Knowledge

Hunter College, Spring 2017

Welcome to the Sociology of Knowledge Site


Here’s what this course is about:

Was Donald Trump’s inauguration the biggest in history? Is Climate Change a hoax? Are we post-racial? Politically, we must say the answers to these questions is no—and yet a course like sociology of knowledge will intellectually challenge these politics. This will be the central tension we struggle with this semester—soon you will be able to understand why some have blamed post-structuralist, like Foucault, for climate change denial, and you will be able to counteract those arguments without reinforcing problematic assumptions. If we are to understand that facts are socially produced, that knowledge is not as sturdy as we once thought, that science is fallible, how do we do this without having to accept that racism isn’t a thing, that Trump’s inauguration was the biggest in history, and that climate change is not happening? These problems are what we will tackle with this semester.  The official description of this course is the “systematic analysis of the social basis of knowledge” and we are unfortunately in an era where we must all develop the critical skills to do so, and quick. We must understand that reality is socially constructed, and yet have the critical skills to not be gaslit. This is a complex paradox, and you should expect to struggle with this during the semester and beyond. The struggle is the process, and this is how you will learn. We will build our critical thinking skills through discussion, reading, digital media, outside events, and writing. And it should also be noted that sociology is a political project, as all knowledge constructing disciplines are, and so this class will engage deeply with current and past politics. You are expected to have political opinions of your own, and recognize that I do too.


Featured post

Final Projects

Thank you all for a great semester and putting so much work into the class and your final projects!

Three projects don’t have a digital component but here are the ones that do!

Vaccines and Sociology of Knowledge

Informed Resistance

Social Construction of Race

Protests and Legitimacy

Knowledge of Reproduction

Food for Thought




Food for Praxis Party


Some of you suggested that you might want to coordinate on bringing food for class on Thursday (it’s optional to bring food and I will bring some for everyone, but you can contribute if you want). So comment here if you want to throw a few bucks in for someone else to buy food or you want to get some bucks thrown at you to bring food. No one mentioned dietary restrictions or allergies but we have at least one vegan (me!). I will bring plates and cups and napkins.

Thank you!


I didn’t open the card from all of you in class because I didn’t want to cry in front of you all, but I am so touched by your congratulations, truly. It was so sweet. And of course, the chalk will come in handy too. I gave you all a special shout out in my dissertation acknowledgements for being so supportive of me this semester. Thank you, all.

Reminder: No Class on Thursday

In observance of Star Wars Day, we will not be having class on Thursday, May the Fourth (get it…?). Okay, that’s not the real reason. But take the time to meet your groups and prepare for your presentations and/or schedule a meeting to chat with me about anything, including your grades etc because those discussions can only happen before grades are submitted.



A meme to go with the last post on academic publishing

Fuck McGraw Hill

A post shared by Elliot Tebele (@fuckjerry) on

This got me.

Article on Academic Publishing

Want to Change Academic Publishing? Just Say No

When I became a professor, 20 years ago, I received a request from a woman who lived close to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I taught: Could she come and talk to me about a set of interests she was developing, in the area of my own specialty in anthropology, and get my advice on applying to graduate school? We spoke for about 45 minutes in my office, at the end of which she asked, “How much do I owe you?”

This woman was a therapist who billed by the hour, and she assumed that when you got the benefit of someone’s professional expertise for 45 minutes, you paid for it. Although I would expect to pay a lawyer or a therapist for a professional consultation, the idea of paying for a conversation with me seemed bizarre. I explained that professors, especially in the humanities and social sciences, get paid an annual salary and, in return, see it as part of our job to share our knowledge and to mentor others. We had a vocation, not a trade. The life of the mind is not billable.

Click to Read More

“But We Have to Do Something” Article

I mentioned this article in class and I think you might want to check it out!

This is an article about surgery and intersex children.

Digital Privacy Workshop for Activists

Digital Privacy Workshop for Activists
Bluestockings Bookstore (172 Allen Street, New York, NY), 3/27 at 7:00

Governments and corporations use mass surveillance to discourage dissent and resistance. Many activists fear this will only worsen for Americans under Trump’s regime. This workshop aims to illuminate the wider political context of surveillance and some of the nuances of privacy and its ethos, teach the practice of threat modeling, and finally, offer some practical steps to using digital devices more safely for activists and community groups.

Workshop Topics:
– What is privacy? How do we normalize it in our day-to-day life?
– What is threat-modeling?
– Why should we prioritize free software?
– The praxis of safer digital privacy: what programs to use and how to use them (information on safer operating systems, safer browsing, safer communication, safer collaboration, phone security)
– How can we begin to move away from Facebook and Google?
– How can political and community groups begin to implement measures to have their work more digitally secure?

Bluestockings Bookstore is closest to the F, J, M, Z Delancey/Essex Street Station (non-accessible), the F 2nd Avenue Station (non-accessible), and the M15 bus (accessible). Bluestocking’s’ entrance is accessible, but bathroom is non-ADA compliant.

This is a free event and no prior knowledge is required. But Bluestockings will ask for donations to help keep one of the only feminist bookstores in the United States running.

If you questions about the workshop, please reach out to Melissa Marturano here or at

The workshop will NOT be livestreamed.

Please help us to spread the word by inviting more people to the Facebook event and distributing the flyer/info to your networks!

Two Random Things to Think About

Here is an interesting resource that lets you see what your race would be in different countries based on how their census defines race. Interesting to think about how knowledge about race and race itself is produced.


And here is an interesting video that speaks to the connection between postmodern ideas of knowledge and politics

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