Keith A. Livers, "Conspiracy Culture: Post-Soviet Paranoia and the Russian Imagination" (U Toronto Press, 2020)

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Conspiracy theories prove to be popular and widely-spread. As a rule, we do not tend to take them seriously, but it would be wrong to suggest that audiences are not intrigued by them. What can conspiracy theories communicate about those who engage with them and about those who are this way or the other implicated?

With Conspiracy Culture: Post-Soviet Paranoia and the Russian Imagination (University of Toronto Press, 2020), Keith A. Livers explores the conspiracy theory on the theoretical and practical levels. The book offers a solid background that helps historicize the conspiracy preoccupations in Russia. By connecting the conspiracy manifestations in Russian culture across the centuries, Livers successfully demonstrates how deeply engrained the conspiracy culture is in Russia. The book analyzes in detail a diverse cultural material that includes, among others, Pelevin’s and Bekmambetov’s works: by combining chronologically diverse material, Livers looks into and dissects the mechanism of the persistent sustainability of conspiracy culture in Russia. An inseparable part of the conspiracy theory is history, which appears to be part of political dimensions: this aspect is extensively commented on by Livers. Conspiracy Culture: Post-Soviet Paranoia and the Russian Imagination complicates the issue of conspiracy culture and brings it to the level of discussion that offers insights into the current position of the Russian Federation on the local and global levels.

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