Politics of the Unknown. Conspiracism and Conflict
The JRG led by Dr. Joschka Philipps will analyse how conspiracy theories shape and are shaped by political conflict. In their research, Philipps and his team will scrutinize the concept of “post-truth” – an expression that was declared the international word of the year 2016 by Oxford Dictionary – and how it applies to postcolonial African politics, specifically in Guinea and Tunisia. Although Africa is rarely associated with the label of “post-truth politics”, it is all the more permeated by the phenomenon. While Northern scholars tend to consider “post-truth politics” against the backdrop of a Western consensus on what can be scientifically proven and what sources can be trusted, the Africanist approach provides a more nuanced perspective on the heterogenous social, political and discursive spaces that allow for the emergence of rumours, conspiracy theories and suspicions about political orders. Combining ethnographic research, quantitative surveys, and cartography, the project aims to open up multiple perspectives on the complexities of postcolonial politics in Africa. The transdisciplinary project will also examine photographic artworks and collaborate with Hadia Bah and her theater group Emoticônes224 based in Conakry, Guinea.