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Accepted Paper:

From flying saucers to trans-species head transplants: a case of conspiring 'others' and Glorious Hindus  
Neelabh Gupta (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

The paper anthropologically examines the role of digital media in re-imagination of conspiracy theories about the 'other's' attempt to undermine Hindus by propagation of falsified history of glorious,prosperous Hindu society.

Paper long abstract:

"Internet existed in the times of Mahabharata (roughly 600 B.C); "Lord Ganesha had an elephant head transplant which shows surgical prowess of ancient Hindu society"; "Chanakya (an ancient sage) was like google"; "Taj mahal was actually a shiva temple called Tejo Mahalaya"; These statements have been made by prominent right wing politicians, including the current Prime Minister, to further a 'Hindutva' political rhetoric, constructing a fundamentalist identity. Using the instrumentality of social media platforms such as Facebook, conspiracy theories have been reimagined, redistributed and propagated exponentially. The intent behind such theories is to other the west, the muslims or the 'outsiders' in the hindu homeland, who constantly 'conspire' to overtake the supreme 'Hindus'. The paper is an examination of the attempt to discredit the 'others' and reinforce Hindu supremacy, while simultaneously using falsified, misinterpreted and twisted history to validate the glorious Hindu past. To understand the Conspiracy of the others to undermine 'Hindus', four major strands of analysis are presented: 1). Cognizing the othering process through cumulative narrative of around built by contrivance of conspiracy theories 2). Understanding the dissemination of information on social media. 3). Tracing the Propagation and acceptance of such beliefs as an indirect causality of digital technology. 4) Deconstructing the semantics of such theories as a post-truth discourse. The study is a confluence of both qualitative and quantitative aspects, mostly obtained through ethnographic methodology, supplemented with statistical analysis, using data analytics tools such as Python, R, Tableau and Excel.

Panel P110
Things are not as they seem. Tracing the movements and immobility of conspiracy theories
  Session 1 Friday 17 August, 2018, -