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Everything is Connected
22 Mar. 2022 -
17:00 - 18:15

Everything is Connected

Conspiracy Theories and the Internet

The internet and conspiracy theories: two phenomena from today’s world that are both omnipresent, intangible and closely entangled. How should we understand the relation between the internet and the making and shaping of conspiracy theories?

About the programme

Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon. However, the emergence of the internet has made them more persistent than ever; especially on social media, conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation have become increasingly prominent in the last decade. The QAnon conspiracy theory, for example, claims that there is a vast plot of Satan-worshipping paedophiles who are part of the Deep State. This theory was popular among supporters of Trump, but has also spread to other countries. The coronavirus pandemic has seen a huge number of conspiracy theories, from the idea that the virus was developed as a bioweapon, to the speculation that the pandemic was deliberately planned by global elites to control the world’s population. Finally, Putin’s worldview has long been shaped by the conspiracy theory that the West is secretly controlling independent states like Ukraine.

Once out and about these narratives circulate freely on different digital platforms, accessible for anyone interested. In this NIAS Talk we explore together with Peter Knight how the internet has influenced conspiracy theories. Guest speakers from different disciplines will join the conversation.

About the speakers

Peter Knight is Professor of American Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. He is an expert on conspiracy theories and has published many books on the subject. During his fellowship at NIAS, Knight takes his research to a next level as he dives into online conspiracy theories.

Marleen Stikker is co-founder of Waag Society. She is an internet pioneer and founder of De Digitale Stad (DDS), the first virtual community introducing free public access to the Internet in Amsterdam. She leads Waag, a social enterprise that consists of a research institute for creative technologies and social innovation and Waag Products, that launched companies like Fairphone, the first fair smartphone in the world.

Sara Polak is University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society. Polak is specialised in the cultural and media politics of image-making of US presidents and their use of social media. Currently, Polak is a research fellow in the NWO project “Playing Politics: Media Platforms Making Worlds” which researches Donald Trump’s social media communication and his ‘cartoon logic’.

Zará Kars (moderator) is a Public Historian and Programme maker at NIAS.


You can join this programme both on site at SPUI25 and online. For either option, please register by clicking on the button on the top of this page. When you choose for onsite attendance, please make sure to bring a valid QR-code, ID and a mouth cap. When you register, SPUI25 counts on your attendance.

About SPUI25

Each month NIAS hosts the NIAS Talks at SPUI25. During the NIAS Talks, fellows or alumni of the Institute engage with journalists, scholars or cultural practitioners to offer new or interdisciplinary perspectives to the current state of affairs.

As a vibrant forum SPUI25 connects the academic world with the cultural sector in the broadest sense, as its events oscillate between science and imagination, fact and fiction.