Co-constructing Future Pasts: Eschatology & History on 4chan /pol/ (the second of four seminars in the Populism and Religion Seminar Series, spring 2024) Lauritz Holm Petersen
Narratives about impending societal collapse and cosmic dissolution are regular attributes of human societies. Online platforms provide new grounds for constructing and negotiating narrative and ideological content, and such imaginaries are both developed and disseminated faster and further than before. Studying this development offers unique insights into how end-of-the-world imaginaries are dynamically co-constructed by groups of people sharing experiences and attitudes with the surrounding society. I will present preliminary findings on the use of eschatology and history on the online imageboard 4chan. I’ll focus particularly on how idealized understandings of the past unfold in both activist and resignationist eschatologies, how we might investigate online narratives methodologically, and what implications such findings have for the study of ‘end times’-oriented religion and culture.
Lauritz Holm Petersen is a PhD. fellow at the Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University. In his project, he investigates religious narratives about future end times scenarios from the perspective of computational narratology and the cognitive and evolutionary science of religion. Petersen is a member of the Aarhus University’s Religion, Cognition & Culture research unit and the Recreational Fear Lab, as well as affiliated with the Center for Computational Humanities.
About the Seminar Series
The seminar series on populism and religion is now organized by the Lund University-based research project Beyond Truth and Lies: Conspiracy Theories, Post-Truth, and the Conditions of Public Debate. This project is an affiliate of the ongoing research program At the End of the World: A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Apocalyptic Imaginary in the Past and Present. The seminar series focuses on the theoretical, philosophical, and theological dimensions of populism, with special attention to how conspiracy theories intersect with populism.
Certain conceptions of politics – including political community, political processes, and political decision-making – characterize typical formulations of populist thought. A fundamental conviction of this seminar series is that we must investigate these conceptions if we want to engage in dialogue that goes beyond plain-sense descriptions of, or explanations for, facts, and which deeply addresses questions about how society is – and ought to be – organized. Conspiracy theories – including corresponding elements of culture that shape and are shaped by conspiracy theories – have become increasingly more public in their significance on politics, political decisions, and political movements. We welcome to our seminars a range of intellectually interested parties to discuss these matters, including senior and junior scholars, doctoral students, and beginners.
Seminars are in English, unless otherwise specified. Seminars are open to the public; you may attend by joining on Zoom.