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Conspiracy theorizing as political practice in Guinea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 July 2019

Abstract

This article examines conspiracy theory as an integral part of political practice. In 2010, following a tumultuous year that included a military takeover and a junta-led massacre of civilians, the Republic of Guinea held what was widely considered to be the country's first democratic presidential election since independence in 1958. During this time, many Guineans regularly exchanged information about secret intrigues at the highest levels of politics. These popular reports of powerful figures conspiring to fix the election influenced people's talk and actions, contributing to an environment in which abstract suspicions crystallized in real, and sometimes violent, events. These events in turn heightened suspicions of high-level conspiracy and, among people who identified as ethnic Fulɓe, reinforced the widespread conviction that they were being targeted. Focusing ethnographically on two episodes in which theories of conspiracy influenced how Guineans perceived and shaped the course of the 2010 elections, this article explores conspiracy theorizing as an emergent mode of politics that may have profound effects.

Résumé

Cet article examine la théorie du complot comme partie intégrante de la pratique politique. En 2010, après une année agitée marquée par une prise de pouvoir militaire et un massacre de civils dirigé par la junte, la République de Guinée a organisé ce que beaucoup ont considéré être la première élection présidentielle démocratique du pays depuis son indépendance en 1958. À cette occasion, de nombreux Guinéens ont régulièrement échangé des informations sur des complots secrets aux plus hauts niveaux de la politique. Ces rumeurs populaires de figures puissantes complotant pour truquer l’élection ont influencé les propos et les actions des citoyens, contribuant à un environnement dans lequel des soupçons abstraits se sont cristallisés en événements réels parfois violents. Ces événements ont à leur tour intensifié les soupçons de haut complot et renforcé, chez ceux s'identifiant comme appartenant à l'ethnie peul, la conviction largement répandue d’être la cible de ce complot. Axé ethnographiquement sur deux épisodes dans lesquels des théories du complot ont influencé la manière dont les Guinéens ont perçu et façonné le cours des élections de 2010, cet article explore le complotisme comme mode de politique émergent dont les effets peuvent être profonds.

Type
Ethnographies of emergence
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 2019 

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