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Monday, March 25, 2024, 5:00–6:30pm

Social Science Research Building, Tea Room, 2nd Floor
followed by party in Foster 108 from 6:30pm

Please join us to mark the publication of Conspiracy/Theory (Duke University Press, 2024), edited by 3CT’s Joseph Masco and Lisa Wedeen. They will lead a roundtable discussion with volume contributors Demetra Kasimis and Hussein Ali Agrama, and the event will be followed by a celebratory reception in Foster 108 from 6:30pm.

In an era of intensified information warfare, ranging from global disinformation campaigns to individual attention hacks, what are the compelling terms for political judgment? How are we to build the knowledge needed to recognize and address important forms of harm when critical information is either not to be trusted or kept hidden?

Rather than approach conspiratorial narrative as an irrational response to an obviously decipherable reality, Conspiracy/Theory identifies important affinities between conspiracy theory and critical theory. It recognizes the motivation people have—in their capacities as experts, theorists, and ordinary citizens—to search for patterns in events, to uncover what is covert and attend to dimensions of life that might be hiding in plain sight. If it seems strange that so many find themselves living in incommensurable, disorienting realities, the multidisciplinary contributors to Conspiracy/Theory explore how and why that came to be. Across history and geography, contributors inquire into the affects and imaginaries of political mobilization, tracking counterrevolutionary projects while acknowledging collective futures that demand conspiratorial engagement.

Hussein Ali Agrama is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College and Associate Faculty in the Divinity School. His publications include Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty and the Rule of Law in Egypt (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and “Knowing Others: The New UFO Esotericism of D.W. Pasulka’s ‘American Cosmic.'” Correspondences: Journal for the Study of Esotericism, 10(2): 1-19.

Demetra Kasimis is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She writes and teaches on democratic theory with emphasis on the thought and politics of classical Greece and its contemporary receptions. She is author of the Perpetual Immigrant and the Limits of Athenian Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Joseph Masco is Samuel N. Harper Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College. He is author of The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making (Duke University Press, 2021), The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Duke University Press, 2014), and The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006).

Lisa Wedeen is the Mary R. Morton Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science and the College and Faculty Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT) at the University of Chicago. Her publications include three books: Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999; with a new preface, 2015); Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen (2008); and Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria (2019).

Presented by 3CT and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

This event is free and open to the public, and registration is recommended. Please email us at  if you require any accommodations to enable your full participation.