COST-Action „Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theory“ (COMPACT)

The Seminar of Near and Middle Eastern Studies is member in the COST-Action „Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theory“ (COMPACT).

The COST-Action „Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theory“ (COMPACT) has been awarded by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), Brussels, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). The Seminar of Middle Eastern Studies is Swiss member of the COST-Action which has been active since April 2016.

Conspiracy theories play an increasingly visible role in the political life in Europe, not least because the EU itself is often viewed as a vast conspiracy. Although sometimes seen as harmless entertainment, conspiracy theories can contribute to extremism within particular regions, as well as fuelling tensions between nations. They can erode trust in democratic institutions and the media. Despite the increasing prominence of conspiracy theories in the age of the internet, there has been little systematic research on where they come from, how they work and what can be done about them. The aim of this Action is to develop an interdisciplinary and international network to provide a comprehensive understanding of conspiracy theories.

Existing research has tended to concentrate on specific national traditions, and is often confined to the perspective of a single discipline. In contrast this Action will adopt a comparative approach, investigating the causes, manifestations and effects of conspiracy theories in different regions and times, and drawing on insights from history, politics, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and psychology. The Action will pursue the inquiry in three broad areas: the manifestations and modes of transmission of conspiracy theory in different historical and cultural contexts; the variety of actors and audiences involved in the production and consumption of conspiracy theories; and the psychological and cultural causes and political consequences of belief in conspiracy. Working closely with stakeholders, this Action will build a better understanding of conspiracy theories in order to develop an effective response to them.