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Chair for Sociology in Africa - Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke

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Public talk by Joschka Philipps: Chasing Shadows: Conspiracism and political imagination in postcolonial Guine

08.06.2021 16:15 - 17:30
in person/online

Joschka Philipps, leader of the Junior Research Group on post-truth politics in Africa at the University of Bayreuth

This presentation analyzes the social and political significance of conspiracy theories (whether true or false) in the Republic of Guinea. Juxtaposing different historical episodes and different ways in which conspiracy allegations mark Guinean state-society relations, the aim is to consider conspiracism in the light of three conceptual-methodological lenses—postcolonial, metaphorical, and situational. The postcolonial focus is on how the real and imagined “complots” against the regime of Sékou Touré in the 1960s created a persistent suspicion, if not paranoia, at the center of the Guinean state that affects state-society relations until today. The metaphorical lens aims at understanding the role of transnational “Illuminati” conspiracy theories among today’s younger generations, and how the “Illuminati” serve as a metaphor to explain wealth, power, and celebrity in a globalized world. Finally, Guinea’s 2010 elections will be interrogated through a situational lens, looking at two events—a rally by a political party and a sensitization campaign by an international NGO—in which conspiracist allegations caused political upheavals and disruptions. Throughout, the findings from the Guinean case are comparatively discussed with regards to the ongoing debate on post-truth politics and conspiracy theories in Europe and the United States.

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