In this fractious sociopolitical moment in the U.S., questions of what we know, how we know it, and who is “in the know” have been thrown into radical doubt. Richland uses "radical doubt" because in the rapid slide from “science skepticism” to “misinformation campaigns,” what only a few years ago was characterized as a crisis of information now threatens crises of representative democracy and the rule of law. Along the way, established principles of good governance, once assumed to be immutable, were revealed to be “mere” norms whose force and authority depended on the coordination and cooperation of actors who, whatever their differences, at least ostensibly understood their political fortunes to be tied up in the (re)production of certain foundational norms of U.S. constituionalism. What exactly is the relationship between knowledge, normativity and authority in the U.S. today? And what might an ethnographic investigation of their interactional accomplishment, and the particular brand of humanistic empiricism it affords, suggest about how we got into these crises, and what it might take to get out?
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