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Jaron Harambam

Jaron Harambam is currently working as a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Media Studies, KU Leuven Belgium. In this research project, called Lost in an Ocean of Information? Media in the Everyday Life of Conspiracy Theorists, he ethnographically studies what media sources (TV-channels, newspapers, internet sites, blogs, Facebook pages/groups, etc) conspiracy theorists use to inform themselves about the world and how they establish criteria of truthfulness and credibility, how conspiracy theorists read (interpret, appropriate and authenticate) media contents (texts and videos), and how they use media technologies in a world where search engines and social media algorithms filter the information people receive.

His revised doctoral monograph, Contemporary Conspiracy Culture: Truth and Knowledge in an Age of Epistemic Instability, is forthcoming with Routledge in May 2020. In this ethnographic study, Jaron takes an agnostic stance towards the truth value of conspiracy theories and delves into the everyday lives of people active in the conspiracy milieu to understand better what the contemporary appeal of conspiracy theories is. Drawing on a wide variety of empirical sources, this book shows in rich detail what conspiracy theories are about, which people are involved, how they see themselves, and what they practically do with these ideas in their everyday lives. Jaron inductively develops from these concrete descriptions more general theorizations of how to understand this burgeoning subculture. He concludes by situating conspiracy culture in an age of epistemic instability where societal conflicts over knowledge abound, and the Truth is no longer assured, but “out there” for us to grapple with.

Together with Ela Drazkiewicz, he edits a special issue forthcoming in 2020 with the interdisciplinary journal Science, Technology and Human Values about the thorny and complex matter of how academic scholars should deal with conspiracy theories in public life. There is societal pressure to counter the popularity and nefarious consequences of conspiracy theories by debunking them, but whether that is the right and most feasible thing to do is not that obvious. This special issue opens up that important discussion which has proved to be a divisive element between scholars on the topic.

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