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WS: Prof. Alexander Panchenko: Religion, Conspiracy Theories, and Contemporary Legends in Post-Soviet Culture

When Nov 13, 2018
from 12:00 to 04:00
Where Phil. I, Building B, R. 029
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 053
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Workshop “Religion, Conspiracy Theories, and Contemporary Legends in Post-Soviet Culture”

Prof. Alexander Panchenko (Institute of Russian Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences)

13.11.2018 (Tuesday), 12:00 – 16:00, Room B29

The intersection between religion and conspiracy theories has been recently a topic to numerous studies. However, we still lack a theoretical framework to discuss it. It appears that modern conspiracy theories do to a certain extent duplicate the functions of religious ideas and narratives, at least in the context of social solidarity and disjunction. It may be a question of the particular emotional suggestiveness of conspiracy theory which makes it easy to divide the world into them and us, the wicked and the righteous, persecutors and martyrs. The workshop led by Professor Panchenko will not only explore the intersection between conspirological modes of thinking and religion, but also it will provide participants with new perspectives on the so-called “stigmatized knowledge” and its role in producing various cultural narratives.

On the examples of the United States and post-Soviet Russia, during the workshop we will reflect on the following issues:

- How do conspiracy theories interact with religion, modernity, and the postmodern culture?

- Why do conspiracy theories thrive in the present-day United States, post-Soviet Russia and other societies?

- What are the relations between conspiracy theories and New Age beliefs and practices?

- How and why do conspiracy theories serve as a mode of thinking?

Professor Alexander Panchenko is the Head of the Center for Literary Theory and Interdisciplinary Research, Institute of Russian Literature at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Director of the Center for Anthropology of Religion, European University at St. Petersburg. His primary interest areas include urban folklore, Russian sectarian movements, folk Orthodoxy, and conspiracy theories. He is the author of numerous articles and monographs in both Russian and English, i.e. Khristovshchina i Skopchestvo: Folʹklor i Traditsionnaia Kulʹtura Russkikh Misticheskikh Sekt [Khristovshchina i Skopchestvo: Folklore and Traditional Culture of Russian Mystical Sects] (2004); “Son Gorbacheva” I Russkii Politicheskii Fol’klor Epokhi Perestroiki [“Gorbachev’s Dream” and Russian Political Folklore of the Perestroika Era] (2010) with Minaeva A.P., and Morality, Utopia, Discipline: New Religious Movements and Soviet Culture (2011).


Obligatory readings:

Barkun, M. (2003) A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2).

Barkun, M. (2016). Conspiracy Theories as Stigmatized Knowledge. Diogenes: 1-7.

Panchenko, A. (2017). The Beast Computer in Brussels: Religion, Conspiracy Theologies, and Contemporary Legends in Post-Soviet Culture. Folklore, № 69: 69-90.


Additional readings:

Asprem, E. and Dyrendal, A. (2015). Conspirituality Reconsidered: How Surprising and How New is the Confluence of Spirituality and Conspiracy Theory? Journal of Contemporary Religion, 30 (3): 367-382.

Kormina, J. (2016). Killer Yeast: Gastronomic Conspiracy Theories and the Culture of Mistrust in Modern Russia. Forum For Anthropology and Culture, №. 12: 201-229.


//Prof. Alexander Panchenko

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