Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons: Sites of Struggle, Resistance, and Responsibility

Published: Jan 12, 2022
Contributor: Anasuya Sengupta
License: CC BY NC ND 4.0 license – Allows redistribution but no additions or revisions to content. Forbids commercial use.

For relatively privileged university students in the Global North, slow Internet, dropped Zoom calls, and trouble logging in are the extent of their
digital-access challenges. This article describes creating an opportunity for experiential learning to teach students in a privileged institution about “epistemic marginalization”—that is, the ways that people’s knowledge can be reduced to opinion or dismissed altogether. The course texts give students a grasp on the theoretical language that feminists of color have used to reveal and explicate these
concepts (e.g., Dotson 2014). However, by incorporating learning into the course through Wikipedia “edit-a-thons,” we provide students the opportunity to see,
experience, and—in some cases—mitigate certain manifestations of epistemic privilege. Through the same partnership that we brought to the classroom, we—Anasuya Sengupta, the co-leader of Whose Knowledge? (a campaign devoted to centering the knowledge of marginalized communities online, including on Wikipedia), and Brooke Ackerly, a professor of political science—describe the politics of knowledge (1) in the choice of Wikipedia, (2) in the system of editorial rules and practices of Wikipedia, and
(3) in the development of edit-a-thons for pedagogy. The goal was an assignment that brought undergraduate and graduate students together outside of the classroom to learn how to identify, understand, and challenge the politics of knowledge, and—as a result of their efforts—experience the politics of knowledge when some of their edits were approved and others were rejected.

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