This panel focuses on conspiracy theories: we take them seriously and study them as part and parcel of social milieus. We invite papers examining mobile aspects of conspiracy theories, applying comparative approach with other anthropological topics (epistemological beliefs, witchcraft etc) or STS.
Conspiracy theories may seem stable and immutable since they often try to explain complex notions with simple answers. But conspiracy theories today depend on mobility: travelling and constantly evolving, budding and spreading ideas. Conspiracy theories also thrive on the mobile nature of their subjects (social and political groups, industries, non-humans, technologies etc.). The subjects of conspiracy theories are seen as detrimental forces in social and political life: always involved, omnipresent, pervasive. Yet at the same time, they are never 'here': they are only partially visible, in hiding, beyond the grasp. They are in and beyond at the same time.
We take conspiracy theories seriously and examine them as part and parcel of wider social milieus. How can the study of conspiracy theories help us understand ways in which individuals and societies generate knowledge, negotiate truth and authority, address issues of individuality and sociality? What can anthropology contribute to such discussions when fake news is on everybody's lips, and Big Pharma is part of the contemporary lingua franca?
The aim of this panel is to reinvigorate anthropological debates on conspiracy theories by inviting papers proposing new ways of thinking about conspiracy theories, beyond a normative and condemning approach. We are particularly interested in papers with a comparative approach and engaging with classical anthropological topics such as epistemological beliefs, witchcraft, occult cosmologies as well as STS.