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Accepted Paper:

COVID-19 conspiracy theories rooted in the quasi-colonial relations. The case of Dagestan.  
Iwa Kolodziejska (Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw) Iwona Kaliszewska (University of Warsaw)

Paper Short Abstract:

Many of the motives present in conspiracy theories influencing vaccine hesitancy during COVID-19 pandemic had global reach, however in Dagestan the local motives proved to be much more important. We will show the importance of local conspiracy theories rooted in the colonial relations.

Paper Abstract:

Many of the motives present in conspiracy theories influencing vaccine hesitancy during COVID-19 pandemic had global reach. During our fieldwork in 2021 in Dagestan (southern most republic of Russian Federation) we occasionally heard mentions of Bill Gates, microchips, or monkey DNA present in the vaccines. Although present, such global narrations were expressed without conviction. On the contrary motives that were important for Dagestanis were associated with mistrust towards government and anything it produces. Conspiracy theories in Russia may be seen as a kind of legacy of the Soviet meta-narratives of “the secret war between us and them” (Panchenko 2016). In Dagestan, however, this “secret war” was “not so secret” – we are therefore more inclined to interpret these narratives in relation to the everyday experience of violence and discrimination against the North Caucasus inhabitants. Emotionally loaded narratives about the extermination of Dagestani people re-surfaced during the pandemic, we heard them earlier in the turbulent period of “fight with terrorism”, in particular between 2007-2014, when Dagestanis were deeply concerned about the numbers of their (often innocent) youth becoming victims of anti-terrorist units. Our interlocutors perceived COVID-19 vaccination regulations as imposed by Moscow, despite the federal authorities decision to shift the responsibility for disease control and prevention to regional governments. Using Dagestani examples we will show the importance of local conspiracy theories rooted in the colonial relations.

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