Conspiracy theories have flourished across the world in the modern era. Not that they did not exist in earlier periods, but the notion that emancipation from religion and
Conspiracy theories have flourished across the world in the modern era. Not that they did not exist in earlier periods, but the notion that emancipation from religion and superstition promised by the Enlightenment would prevent them has definitely fizzled out. How can we interpret them? I want to do so via their dual relation to crisis and critique. Indeed, conspiracy theories can be regarded as signaling the existence of a dual crisis: crisis of authority (distrust towards those in power) and crisis of veridiction (distrust towards their official truth). At the same time, they can be viewed as a response to the crisis, a critique of the political and cognitive order of things (the production of an alternative truth and the regaining of a certain counter-power). They are not only provoking crises, they are also unveiling pre-existing crises as well as reacting to them. By proposing this interpretation, I am not trying to justify them with the fact that they would have the positive function of bringing to light problematic situations and of providing answers to them. I am instead attempting to account for the critical work that they may achieve, which does not mean that they necessarily achieve this critical work. What I am interested in is the possibility to understand them as not only destructive of a cognitive order, which is how most analysts see them and how they definitely can be, but also as productive of other social, cultural, political, even ethical realities. I will try to discuss this ambiguous heuristic through one of the most important conspiracy theories of recent decades: that surrounding the AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
Didier Fassin ist Professor für Sozialwissenschaften am Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton sowie Studiendirektor des Fachs Anthropologie an der Pariser École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Zuvor war er tätig als Arzt in Paris, Kalkutta und Tunesien, war bis 2003 Vizepräsident von Ärzte ohne Grenzen und ist seit 2006 Präsident des französischen Comité Médical pour les Exilés (COMEDE). Für sein Werk erhielt Fassin zahlreiche internationale Auszeichnungen, welche es ihm aktuell ermöglichen, sein interdisziplinäres und transnationales Forschungsprojekt »Crisis: A Global Inquiry Into the Contemporary Moment« zu verfolgen.
Einführung und Gespräch: Joseph Vogl
HU BerlinUnter den Linden 6
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