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Conspiracy theories and their truth trajectories

Pelkmans, Mathijs ORCID: 0000-0001-5188-3470 and Machold, Rhys (2011) Conspiracy theories and their truth trajectories. Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 2011 (59). pp. 66-80. ISSN 0920-1297

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Identification Number: 10.3167/fcl.2011.590105


This article aims to reinvigorate analytical debates on conspiracy theories. It argues that definitional attempts to set conspiracy theories apart from other theories are flawed. Blinded by the "irrational" reputation of conspiracy theories and deluded by the workings of institutionalized power such approaches fail to recognize that there are no inherent differences between the two categories. We argue that assessments of conspiracy theories should focus not on the epistemological qualities of these theories but on their interactions with the socio-political fields through which they travel. Because "conspiracy theory" is not a neutral term but a powerful label, attention to processes of labeling highlights these larger fields of power, while the theories' trajectories illuminate the mechanisms by which truth and untruth are created. As such, this article offers a way forward for assessing both the truth and use value of conspiracy theories in the contemporary world.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 Berghahn Books
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2012 10:30
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:19

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