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Charlotte Knowles wins 2020 Robert Papazian Essay Prize

28 September 2021
Charlotte Knowles

The 2020 Robert Papazian Essay Prize has been awarded to Charlotte Knowles.

Assistant professor in Social and Political Philosophy Dr Charlotte Knowles from the Faculty of Philosophy receives the prize, consisting of €1500, publication in the journal, and promotion on the journal’s Taylor & Francis website for her essay ‘Articulating Understanding: A Phenomenological Approach to Testimony on Gendered Violence’.

Overcoming the lack of trust and excessive scepticism

Testimony from victims of gendered violence is often wrongly disbelieved. This paper explores a way to address this problem by developing a phenomenological approach to testimony. Guided by the concept of ‘disclosedness’, a tripartite analysis of testimony as an affective, embodied, communicative act is developed. Affect indicates how scepticism may arise through the social moods that often attune agents to victims’ testimony. The embodiment of meaning suggests testimony should not be approached as an assertion, but as a process of ‘articulating an understanding’. This account is deepened in the discussion of testimony as a communicative act. It is argued that testimony must be considered as a relational whole, and thus our aim in receiving victims’ testimony should be to honour the relational conditions under which the truth of testimony can be heard. Approaching testimony as the collaborative process of enabling an understanding to be articulated can enhance our conception of gendered violence, whilst also better serving the victims of gendered violence by helping to overcome the lack of trust and excessive scepticism with which victims’ testimony is often met.

About the Prize

The Robert Papazian Annual Essay Prize on Themes from Ethics and Political Philosophy was established in 2012 in memory of a young political activist, Robert Papazian, who was executed in Iran in 1982 for his ideas and political ideals. The annual essay competition is a joint initiative led by the Centre for Ethics in Public Life at University College Dublin in collaboration with the International Journal of Philosophical Studies (IJPS) and the Robert Papazian prize. The topic for the 2020 competition was “Testimonial Injustice”.

More information

PERITIA is an EU-funded project investigating public trust in expertise. Read the announcement of the winners 2020 on their website.


This article was published by the Faculty of Philosophy.

Last modified:30 September 2021 11.27 a.m.
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