Are We Really in a Post-Truth Era? COVID Conspiracies, Science, and Colonial Imaginaries
Join us for a special seminar with Professor Amit Prasad (Georgia Tech, USA), in which he will navigate the intricate landscape of COVID-19 conspiracies, scientific credibility, and the enduring legacies of colonialism. This seminar will be chaired by Professor Martyn Pickersgill (U. Edinburgh), and Professor Anne-Maree Farrell (U. Edinburgh) will serve as discussant. Registration is required for this event.
See the details of the seminar below:
The term post-truth has become ubiquitous ever since the Oxford Dictionary christened it the word of the year in 2016. An article in the journal Nature even provides “a guide for the perplexed,” arguing that the term post-truth “must sound alien to scientists,” because “Science’s quest for knowledge about reality presupposes the importance of truth.” Not surprisingly, when COVID-19 initiated a pandemic of misinformation and conspiracies that critically impacted vaccination, masking, and other aspects of healthcare, there were calls to fight the “anti-science movement.” But are we really living in a post-truth era wherein there is a “political subordination of reality”? In this presentation, drawing on my study of COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracies in the United States, I show that contrary to popular belief, misinformation and conspiracies continually utilized the credibility of science, scientists, and scientific journals for their spread. More broadly, I argue that in relation to misinformation and conspiracies, instead of a straightforward mapping of representations to reality, we need to see/show how reality is articulated through displacement and condensation of “realities,” which include, to a large part, the unspoken and unsaid legacies of colonialism that continue to animate the present.
Amit Prasad is an Associate Professor in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech (USA). His research focuses on transnational, global, and postcolonial aspects of science, technology, and medicine. He is the editor of the journal Science, Technology & Society (Sage) and the author of Imperial Technoscience (MIT Press) and Science Studies Meets Colonialism (Polity).
This event is supported by the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society and co-sponsored by the Mason Institute, the SKAPE Centre, and the STIS Subject Group. It is being convened as part of the AHRC project, ‘Targeting Therapies: Exploring the Cultural and Normative Dimensions of ‘Targeted’ Approaches to Biomedicine and Public Health’.