Conspiracy theory in Serbian culture at the time of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

2018-09-12T14:24:23Z (GMT) by Jovan T. Byford
The thesis examines Serbian conspiracy culture at the time of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999. During the war, conspiratorial themes became a regular occurrence in Serbian mainstream media, as well as in pronouncements by the Serbian political establishment. For the most part, conspiratorial explanations focused on the machinations of transnational elite organisations such as the Bilderberg group or, more generally, on the conspiracy of 'the West'. However, conspiratorial accounts of the war occasionally invoked themes which were previously deemed to be beyond the boundaries of acceptable opinion, such as the allusion to a Jewish conspiracy or to the esoteric and occult aspects of the alleged plot. The thesis outlines the history of conspiracy theories in Serbia and critically reviews psychological approaches to understanding the nature of conspiracy theories. It suggests that the study of conspiratorial discourse requires the exploration of the rhetorical and argumentative structure of specific conspiratorial explanations, while paying special attention to the historical and ideological context within which these explanations are situated. The thesis is largely based upon the examination of the coverage of the war in the Serbian press. Recorded conversations with two well-known Serbian conspiracy theorists are also analysed. The study suggest that conspiratorial interpretations of the war drew upon a longstanding conspiracy tradition of explanation which has a strong anti-semitic legacy and is rooted in right-wing Christian ideology. Analytic chapters explore the discursive and ideological dynamics by which the anti-semitic and mystical aspects of the conspiracy tradition emerged briefly in Serbian mainstream media and political discourse. The thesis concludes by examining the status of conspiracy theories in Serbia in the aftermath of the political changes in October 2000.