Using the Authority of Science in Activism

Michiel Köhne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper reflects on knowledge activism as a form of activism that strives to make scientific research politically effective. It analyses the contradictions of scholar-activism aiming to overcome the dichotomy between scholarly and activist work while at the same time experiencing the dual commitments to these two different fields. It does so through an auto-ethnography of writing a “scientific letter” signed by academics to the Dutch government, urging them to stop the use of palm oil as biofuel in the EU. I argue that when knowledge activism builds on the authority of science to pursue political change, the boundary work to produce the needed credibility at the same time reproduces the dichotomy between activism and science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • authority of science
  • dual commitments
  • knowledge activism
  • scholar-activism


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