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Munamato Chemhuru

LAHRI / LUCAS Virtual Fellow 2023
Areas of expertise
epistemic justice theory, environmental justice, African relational ethics
Arts, Humanities and Cultures
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute / Leeds Centre For African Studies

Dr. Munamato Chemhuru is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, and a Senior Research Associate in Philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

Chemhuru will be a LUCAS-LAHRI Virtual Research Fellow from 15 May until 15 November 2023. He is working on the project, Conceptualising Environmental Justice through Epistemic Justice in Africa. Whilst associated with the University of Leeds, he will be collaborating with Leeds academic, Jamie Dow (School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science).

Project Outline

In this study, I use the epistemic justice theory to unravelling testimonial and hermeneutical epistemic injustice (Fricker, 2007) around environmental justice in Africa. I seek to establish why Africa ought to have an epistemic responsibility to shift from racial and colonial inspired epistemic injustice paradigms and early twenty-first century neo-colonial focus on “the global” (Bhambra, 2020: 3). As I will show, epistemic justice ought to do away with the dominant prejudices and misinterpretations that always hinder the quest for environmental justice in Africa considering that epistemic justice is a condition of political freedom (Fricker, 2013) just as it is for environmental justice.

I approach questions on African environmental justice, i.e the distributive patterns of environmental benefits and burdens resulting from the environment (EPA, 2008) in Africa by considering some of the oft-neglected African normative theories, interpretations and methodologies stemming from African relational ethics (see, Metz, 2019, 2022) such as unhu/ubuntu. I present unhu/ubuntu as a value-laden theory that promises to ground wider, rich, and positive account of epistemic justice that is required for environmental justice issues around land and natural resources inequalities as well as poverty. I am aware that such a theory is still prejudiced and peripheral in determining environmental justice in Africa because of both testimonial and hermeneutical injustice (see Fricker 2013: 1319) characterising African ethics. In my view, African epistemologies ought to be seriously taken as the lens through which to view and address some of the historical social injustices such as environmental inequality in Africa.