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Mimesis and Conspiracy

Bureaucracy, New Media and the Infrastructural Forms of Doubt

Michael Vine and Matthew Carey

Conspiratorial thought is one of the hallmarks of late modernity. This article focuses on the wealth of conspiracy theories that crystallized around chemtrails and the Californian drought to examine the genre more generally. It suggests that the particular constellation of certainty and doubt present in conspiracy arguments is a product of the fundamentally mimetic nature of conspiratorial thought, which espouses the contours of the infrastructural environment in which it emerges. In our case, this infrastructural environment is that of bureaucracy on the one hand and the architecture of the internet on the other. Each of these infrastructures helps to shape conspiratorial thought in a distinct manner, and the confluence of the two imparts to the genre its particular flavour.

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Introduction

Infrastructures of Certainty and Doubt

Matthew Carey and Morten Axel Pedersen

This special section explores the various ways in which states of certainty and doubt are generated and sustained, focusing on what we call the ‘infrastructures’ that undergird, enable or develop alongside them. The articles in this collection build on the growing literature on these topics, notably the very extensive recent work on doubt, uncertainty and opacity, and they extend it further by directing attention not to the consequences of these states or people’s responses to them, but instead to the various semiotic, material and social forms that make possible the assertion or recognition of certainty or doubt. We use the idea of ‘infrastructure’ as a heuristic device to explore these processes.

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Matthew Carey, Ida Nielsen Sølvhøj, Eve Monique Zucker, Younes Saramifar and Louis Frankenthaler

THE GRECANICI OF SOUTHERN ITALY: Governance, Violence, and Minority Politics By Stavroula Pipyrou. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. 256 pp. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-8122-4830-2.

FOUR DECADES ON: Vietnam, the United States, and the Legacies of the Second Indochina War Edited by Scott Laderman and Edwin A. Martini. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013. 334 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-8223-5474-1.

FROM THE LAND OF SHADOWS: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora By Khatharya Um. New York: New York University Press, 2015. 272 pp. Hardback. ISBN 978-1-4798-0473-3.

NATIONALISM, LANGUAGE, AND MUSLIM EXCEPTIONALISM By Tristan James Mabry. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. 264 pp. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-8122-4691-9.

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS IN ISRAEL: Citizenship, Sacrifice, Trials of Fealty By Erica Weiss. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 216 pp. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-8122-4592-9.