An intriguing interrogation of America’s long-running obsession with conspiracy theories
Why are Americans today so fascinated by Area 51? How did rumors that the AIDS virus originated as a weapon of biowarfare emerge? Why does the Kennedy assassination provoke heated debate over fifty years after the fact, and why did Donald Trump’s birther theories only serve to increase his popularity with voters? The origins of these ideas reveal important facets of American culture and politics.
Placing conspiracy thinking at the center of American history, and challenging the knee-jerk dismissal of conspiratorial thought as deluded and often dangerous, Conspiracy Nation provides a wide-ranging survey of conspiracy theories in contemporary America. In the 19th century, inflammatory rhetoric about slave revolts, the well-publicized specter of the black rapist, and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan all worked as conspiracy theories to legitimate an emerging sense of national consciousness based on an ideology of white supremacy – one that still persists today.
In our contemporary world, panicked responses to increasing multiculturalism and globalization yield new notions of victimhood and new theories about conspiratorial plans for global domination. Offering up a provocative array of examples, ranging from alien abduction to the novels of DeLillo and Pynchon to Tupac Shakur's "paranoid style," Conspiracy Nation documents and unearths the workings of conspiracy in the contemporary moment.
Contributors: Clare Birchall, Jack Bratich, Bridget Brown, Jodi Dean, Ingrid Walker Fields, Douglas Kellner, Peter Knight, Fran Mason, John A. McClure, Timothy Melley, Eithne Quinn, and Skip Willman