Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion


Conspiracy theories are a ubiquitous feature of our times. The Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion is the first reference work to offer a comprehensive, transnational overview of this phenomenon along with in-depth discussions of how conspiracy theories relate to religion(s). Bringing together experts from a wide range of disciplines, from psychology and philosophy to political science and the history of religions, the book sets the standard for the interdisciplinary study of religion and conspiracy theories.

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Asbjørn Dyrendal (b.1965), PhD., is Professor in the History of Religion at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He has published widely on conspiracy beliefs and new religious movements, including the recently co-authored The Invention of Satanism (Oxford UP, 2016).

David G. Robertson (b. 1975), PhD., is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University and co-founder of the Religious Studies Project. His work applies critical theory to the study of alternative and emerging religions, and to "conspiracy theory" narratives. He is the author of UFOs, the New Age and Conspiracy Theories: Millennial Conspiracism (Bloomsbury 2016) and co-editor of After World Religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies (Equinox 2016).

Egil Asprem (b. 1984) , PhD., is Associate Professor in the History of Religion at Stockholm University, Sweden. He has published extensively on Western esotericism, occultism, and magic, including the monographs Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture (SUNY, 2012) and The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900–1939 (Brill, 2014).

Contributors are: Asprem, Egil; Atkinson, Matthew D.; Aupers, Stef; Berridge, Willow; Bretfeld, Sven; Cusack, Carole M.; DeWitt, Darin; Douglas, Karen M.; Dyrendal, Asbjørn; van Eck Duymaer van Twist, Amanda; Endresen, Cecilie; Falkof, Nicky; Farley, Helen; Frydenlund, Iselin; Hagemeister, Michael; Harambam, Jaron; Jackson, Paul; Keeley, Brian L.; Makeeff, Tao Thukier; Nefes, Türkay Salim; Newcombe, Suzanne; Partridge, Christopher; Poli, Barbara De; Robertson, David G.; Shnirelman, Victor A.; Ryutaro, Tsuji; Uscinski, Joseph E.; Wood, Michael J.
"No one before has undertaken the tremendously important and timely task of compiling a volume, dealing with the relationship between conspiracy theories and religion (...) The book not only examines the intersection of religion and conspiracy theories, but also provides a survey about the global phenomenon of conspiracy theories by discussing examples in different times and cultural environments."
- Dominic Bornand, Andrews University Seminary Studies 56, 2018.

" As I read the chapters in this volume, I thought about how I might use this material in a course on conspiracy theories and religions. (...) I highly recommend this book for college or university libraries."
- W. Michael Ashcraft, Truman State University, Reading Religion, September 15, 2020.
ForewordMichael Barkun List of Authors Introducing the Field: Conspiracy Theory in, about, and as ReligionDavid G. Robertson, Egil Asprem and Asbjørn Dyrendal

Part 1: Explanations

1 Conspiracy Theories and the Study of Religion\s: What we are Talking about, and Why it is ImportantAsbjørn Dyrendal, Egil Asprem and David G. Robertson 2 Rational Enchantments: Conspiracy Theory between Secular Scepticism and Spiritual SalvationStef Aupers and Jaron Harambam 3 Is a Belief in Providence the Same as a Belief in Conspiracy?Brian L. Keeley 4 Are Conspiracy Theories a Surrogate for God?Michael Wood and Karen Douglas 5 A Web of Conspiracy? Internet and Conspiracy TheoryJoseph E. Uscinski, Darin DeWitt and Matthew D. Atkinson

Part 2: Correspondences

6 The Satanism Scare in Apartheid South AfricaNicky Falkof 7 “Trust Me, You Can’t Trust Them”: Stigmatised Knowledge in Cults and ConspiraciesAmanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist and Suzanne Newcombe 8 Popular Music, Conspiracy Culture, and the SacredChristopher Partridge 9 Close Companions? Esotericism and Conspiracy TheoriesEgil Asprem and Asbjørn Dyrendal 10 The Counter-Elite: Strategies of Authority in Millennial ConspiracismDavid G. Robertson

Part 3: Locations

11 Buddhism Endangered by Hidden Enemies: Conspiracy Narratives in Sri Lankan Buddhist Present and PastSven Bretfeld 12 Buddhist Islamophobia: Actors, Tropes, ContextsIselin Frydenlund 13 Islamism and the Instrumentalisation of ConspiracismWillow J. Berridge 14 Anti-Jewish and Anti-Zionist Conspiracism in the Arab World: Historical and Political RootsBarbara De Poli 15 A Fantastic People and Its Enemies: An Analysis of an Emerging Albanian MythologyCecilie Endresen 16 Was Aristotle an Anti-Semitic Alien? Conspiracy Theory, Ufology, and the Colonisation of the Past in Contemporary GreeceTao T. Makeeff 17 The Role of Conspiracy Theory in the Aum Shinrikyo IncidentTsuji Ryutaro 18 Framing of a Conspiracy Theory: The Efendi SeriesTurkay Nefes 19 The Third Rome Against the Third Temple: Apocalypticism and Conspiracism in Post-Soviet RussiaMichael Hagemeister 20 Alexander Dugin: Between Eschatology, Esotericism, and Conspiracy TheoryVictor Shnirelman 21 Conspiracy Theories and Neo-Nazism in the Cultic MilieuPaul Jackson 22 Evil Cult or Persecuted Minority? Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Falun Gong and the Government of the People’s Republic of ChinaHelen Farley 23 The Messiah is a Salesman, Yet Consumerism is a Con(spiracy): The Church of the SubGenius, Work, and the Pursuit of Slack as a Spiritual IdealCarole M. Cusack Afterword: Further Reflections, Future DirectionsEgil Asprem, David G. Robertson and Asbjørn Dyrendal Index
Researchers and students in fields such as religious studies, political science, sociology, psychology, and history who have an interest in conspiracy theories, religion and politics. Educated laymen with similar interests.
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