Politics & Political Theory

Conspiracy theory as spatial practice: The case of the Sivas arson attack, Turkey

This article discusses the relationship between conspiratorial thinking and physical space by focusing on the ways conspiracy theories regarding political violence shape and are shaped by the environments in which it is commemorated. Conspiratorial thinking features space as a significant element, but is taken to do so mainly figuratively. In blaming external powers and foreign actors for social ills, conspiracy theorists employ the spatial metaphor of inside versus outside. In perceiving discourses of transparency as the concealment rather than revelation of mechanisms of governance, conspiracy theorists engage the trope of a façade separating the space of power’s formulations from that of its operations. Studying the case of an arson attack dating from 1990s Turkey and its recent commemorations, this article argues that space mediates conspiracy theory not just figuratively but also physically and as such serves to catalyze two of its deadliest characteristics: anonymity and non-linear causality. Attending to this mediation requires a shift of focus from what conspiracy theory is to what it does as a spatial practice.

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Volume 36 Issue 2