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Accepted Paper:

(Conspiracy) theory from the South: a contextual, pragmatic and intersectional approach to the significance of conspiracy-theory beliefs among the subalterns of the global North  
Cecilia Vergnano (KU Leuven)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on ethnographic research in the global North among different marginalized groups, the proposed paper aims to underscore the importance of a threefold approach (contextual, pragmatic and intersectional) to understand the significance of conspiracy-theory beliefs among the subalterns.

Paper Abstract:

While the significance of conspiracy theories (CT) is increasing in the contemporary Western world, and CT beliefs can be found even among those with high cultural capital and political resources, accumulating evidence reveals that they are more likely to be found among the socioeconomically disadvantaged and the racially discriminated, thus correlating CT beliefs, on the one side, and race and class, on the other. How can this correlation be explained, without reproducing deeply-rooted stigmas on the (racially-subaltern) poor – that is to say, without leaping to explanations based on their alleged ignorance, anti-social behaviour, or propensity to be manipulated by charismatic leaders?

By relying on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in different Western EU countries among different disadvantaged communities, both autochthonous and from the global South (Roma camps’ dwellers, white unemployed workers, and African farmworkers), I argue about the importance of adopting a threefold approach in CT research: 1) a contextual approach to understand the social, economic and cultural conditions of acceptability of CTs; 2) a pragmatic approach (what effects people intend to produce by voicing CTs, or which practices they intend to justify) to understand conflicts that develop around CTs; and 3) an intersectional approach to understand the significance of CT-beliefs for dispossessed groups worldwide under the current conjuncture of increasing social inequalities at the global level, without denying the relative privilege of living in the global North.

Panel P003
Navigating conspiracies “from below”: agentive strategies and tactics by marginalized groups
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -