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Year of Graduation


Document Type



Gender & Women’s Studies

Directing Professor

LeeRay Costa


In the history of both Western academia and the Western world, those in power, specifically white people, white men, cis people, etc. have wielded their power to shape and define collective knowledge. Throughout the continued struggle against systemic oppression for historically marginalized people, many of those without power have not been able to tell their own stories or define themselves. In the creation of Women’s and Gender Studies lay the foundation to disrupt the collective narrative about women and people outside of a binary gender system and reveal new knowledge. In this thesis, I seek to not only reveal this knowledge but to also expose and trace the roots of where this knowledge comes from. This study will discuss the epistemological lineage of a line of feminists and social justice activists, starting with the author and moving into 3 influential mentors in the author’s life.

Each mentor was interviewed and asked a series of questions about feminist and social justice influences in their lives, such as teachers, specific life experiences, etc to uncover each individual’s epsitemological line. These questions were then analyzed and revealed that most feminist and social justice knowledge began in the home with blood relatives and later expanded into networks of friends and comrades. These results disrupt the traditional expectations for knowledge origins. Moreover, the results understand the familial storytellers, the community to act as creators of knowledge instead of the academy.

The author was able to reflect on these results and note the importance of creating new knowledge through interactions within one’s community, as well as passing down knowledge as a tradition and act of both motherhood and mentorhood.