Policing knowledge in and of the pandemic
Georgina Stewart, Te Ara Poutama, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
Among the unprecedented challenges of the current pandemic are issues of scientific knowledge, and the growth of public mistrust of experts and the motives of government. The democratic rights and freedoms of individual citizens have been perversely distorted into a refusal to comply with systems and rules designed to protect their lives. In Aotearoa New Zealand as in other countries, the Indigenous population is becoming infected at disproportionately high rates, which look set to increase. This commentary discusses how social media occupy a liminal niche between knowledge and ignorance in relation to the current explosion of national anti-vaccine sentiment. Social media effectively disseminate misinformation that influences attitudes and opinions of targeted groups, for example, social media are being blamed for growing vaccine hesitancy among young Māori. Anti-science ideas and public skepticism are examined through the lens of agnotology, or managed ignorance, and a comparison is drawn between the current anti-vaccine campaign and the recent Listener letter that falsely claimed that science was in danger from Māori knowledge.
|Bio: Georgina Tuari Stewart is the author of Māori Philosophy: Indigenous thinking from Aotearoa (Bloomsbury, 2020), and Principal Investigator of a 2021 Marsden grant to research Māori flexible learning spaces as a mechanism for supporting biculturalism and Māori knowledge in schools. Co-Editor of NZJES, Associate Editor of EPAT and JRSNZ.|