P003
In search of concealed truth: revealing, unraveling and debunking

Convenors:
Alexander Panchenko (Institute of Russian Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences)
Anastasiya Astapova (University of Tartu)
Location:
S-235
Start time:
31 July, 2014 at 14:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel focuses on beliefs and narratives about truths concealed from common people by dominant powers. Such beliefs span various realms, touching on supernatural reality, healthcare, science, politics, economics etc.They are often labeled as conspiracy theories, rumors or legends.

Long abstract:

This panel focuses on beliefs and narratives about truths concealed from common people by dominant powers. Such beliefs span various realms, touching on supernatural reality, healthcare, science, politics, economics etc. They are often labeled as conspiracy theories, rumors or legends. This panel encourages inquiries into forms and functions of such beliefs, rhetorics of truth and strategies of uncovering truth, in a variety of settings. It will explore the emergence of communities and networks dedicated to alternative beliefs, their use of media, and calls to action that they issue. Typologies of beliefs about hidden truth can be useful as analytic constructions, but upon closer examination, this category seems to expand in all directions. The panel will open up a wider conversation about the larger discursive regimes that accommodate and enable discussions of truth and its revelation. The methodological focus of the panel lies in the challenges of academic practice, especially anthropology and folkloristics, disciplines that have historically developed to study beliefs that are not the researchers' own. A democratic equality of knowledge systems is more easily proclaimed than practiced. The uneasy position of a researcher is that of a mediator between the knowledge practices of academia and those of the communities they research. In this context, how can we theorize what distinguishes "alternative" narratives of hidden truth from the institutionalized discourse of academia, with its commitment to rigor and urgent social critique?