Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Whom to trust: Clashing knowledges from Australian mining to “alternative facts”

Only in the last year, expert knowledge has been challenged by politicians and others doubting its validity. Typically, the most heated debates concern climate change and immigration. The introduction of the concept of “alternative facts” strengthen the tendency of distrust and delegitimation of so-called elite perspectives, including scientific findings. This lecture ends with some reflections on the implications of distrust in experts for politics and the democratic order, but in order to get there, I briefly describe a few cases from my recent research in Australia. These examples show that there can be no simple, universal answer to the question, and in complex settings, there may be several knowledge regimes competing for symbolic power, trust and legitimacy.

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