Conspiracy Narratives as a Mode of Engagement in International Politics:
"With the decline in traditional forms of structured ideological contestation in the post‐Cold War era, the role of conspiracy theories as a form of political discourse has been accentuated. The burgeoning literature on the subjects reflects the declining symbolic efficiency of the metanarratives of modernity. There is a long tradition of conspiracy theories in Russia, which has been intensified in recent years as a result of the tribulations following the collapse of communism. Cognate forms of conspiracy narratives represent broader social constructions of reality, and structure representations of national identity. In the Russo‐Georgian War of August 2008 various conspiracy narratives have taken the place of mythic representations, and the conflict on the battlefield has been accompanied by the clash of several major narratives. A similar process was firmly at work in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. In the case of the Caucasus, three main conspiracy theories, with endless subplots and details, have shaped narratives of events: A Russian version, a Georgian one, and a dominant Western one. The three intersect at various points, but differ in both detail and substance. The three reflect central paradigms of contemporary international politics, and thus the war has exposed the deeper substrata of geopolitical visions and a nascent revival of bloc politics."
"Real Enemies: bringing conspiracy theories and paranoia to the stage"
"A brand new production uses an anxiety-inducing score and set to bring audience members face to face with some of America’s classic conspiracies"
"If you’ve ever toyed with the idea that the CIA might have killed JFK, that Nasa might have faked the moon landings, or that shape-shifting reptilian Illuminati might rule the world – or if you’ve simply ever wondered how anyone else could entertain such ideas – Real Enemies, the multimedia production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s New Wave festival, may stoke your conspiratorial embers Writer-director Isaac Butler, composer Darcy James Argue and theatrical designer Peter Nigrini have crafted a show that uses music, video and set design to explore the world of conspiracy theories. (The title is drawn from Kathryn Olmsted’s comprehensive history of paranoia in American politics, ranging from the first world war up to 9/11.)"
"The program, which is divided into 12 chapters, involves very little spoken text. Instead setting, mood and thematic content are conveyed almost entirely through music and visual imagery. When treating the theory that the CIA helped introduce crack cocaine to South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s in order to fund Nicaraguan contras – a notion popularized by the late journalist Gary Webb – Argue establishes a sense of time and place by nodding to LA electrofunk-influenced hip-hop, while footage of Nancy Reagan giving her 1986 “Just Say No” speech lends a dash of video-driven irony to the proceedings. Real Enemies is not only about particular conspiracy theories, however. It is also about conspiracy thinking as process; about how – and why – people of all races, classes and creeds invent these (sometimes plausible, often outlandish) narratives. As such, Darcy says, the show grapples with our fundamental urge to make sense of the world through storytelling, and with the very nature of belief itself; with our genius for finding meaning and order in the universe, and with the comfort that such meaning and order provide. “It’s really telling that for so many people, it’s more terrifying to contemplate a world full of randomness and chaos than of governmental incompetence and long-standing ineptitude,” he says. Real Enemies doesn’t just want audiences to understand conspiracy thinking, however. It wants them to engage in it. And it does so by exploiting the same narrative instinct that allows us to connect the dots between seemingly disparate events. This might mean using music that alludes to the unnerving scores of conspiracy thrillers such as The Parallax View, while simultaneously splashing different images on to each of the 15 projection screens arrayed on stage."
"The sinister attribution error: Paranoid cognition and collective distrust in groups and organizations"
"Recent social psychological research on paranoid cognition has shown that when individuals are self-conscious or feel under evaluative scrutiny, they tend to overestimate the extent to which they are the target of others’ attention. As a result, they make overly personalistic attributions about others’ behavior. These personalistic attributions, in turn, foster a pattern of heightened distrust and suspicion regarding others’ motives and intentions. Drawing on this research, the present work investigates antecedents and consequences of paranoid cognition in groups and organizations. Results of two studies are presented. Study 1 investigates how tenure in a group or organization affects individuals’ self-consciousness and susceptibility to paranoid cognition. Study 2 replicates and extends the results of the first study using a new laboratory analog for studying paranoid cognition in small groups. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of their contribution to theory regarding the origins and dynamics of collective distrust and suspicion."