Mimesis and Conspiracy

Bureaucracy, New Media and the Infrastructural Forms of Doubt

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Restricted access

Abstract

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.

Contributor Notes

Michael Vine is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, working on the relationship between human bodies, subjectivities, and the shifting landscapes of the historical present.

Matthew Carey is Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen. His forthcoming monograph is entitled Mistrust: An Ethnographic Theory (Hau Books), and he is co-editor of a special issue of Tracés on ‘Méfiance’.

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