Accepted paper:

WHEN CONSPIRACY MEETS FAITH: MAKING SENSE OF TRAGIC EVENTS IN BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

Author:

Giuseppe Tateo (New Europe College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between conspiracy thinking and Christian faith by examining how Orthodox Romanians made sense of two topical events happened in the autumn 2015 in Bucharest: the fire of the Colectiv nightclub, and the street demonstrations occurring a few days after it.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the production of conspiracy theories among Orthodox Romanians starting from a specific question: in what ways are conspiracy thinking and Christian faith related? On October 30th 2015, the Bucharest nightclub Colectiv took fire during a hard-rock concert, causing the death of 64 people and the injury of other two-hundred, mostly youngsters. In the following days, inquiries were started to evaluate the responsibilities of the owners for not having respected safety measures, and of the city district administration, which, in turn, did not carry out inspections properly. Nevertheless, for some Christian-Orthodox priests and believers the reasons behind such tragic event resided elsewhere: it was God's will to punish those who evoke the evil by performing or celebrating satanist rock music.

Conspiracy theories and Christian cosmologies reinforce one another as are both grounded on the idea that there is an underlying, unknown plan explaining what happens on the surface, that is, in the everyday life. This becomes clear not just when believers try to make sense of tragic events like the fire of Colectiv, but also when it comes to understand the political conflicts occurring after it, as for the case of the street demonstrations going on in the main cities of the country for a whole week. By looking at how Orthodox Christians attempt to find an explanation for what happens around them, I will argue that today's renewed attention towards conspiratorial rationalities should be accompanied by equal attention towards the religious and sociopolitical context where these are produced.

panel P121
Conspiracy theories and conspiracy practices: moving between rationalities