Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Yener Bayramoğlu | Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin | United Kingdom 


September 16th 2022 | 12.00 – 13.30
Panel #9 | “Pandemic Discourses and Imaginaries
Room G.127 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

Digital Covid-Dystopia Conspiracy Theories and Public Health

The COVID-19 pandemic did not only challenge national health systems and economics. 
The unpredictability of the pandemic’s course, the mistrust against medical expertise and the state combined with a growing uncertainty vis-á-vis the future has been a fertile ground for the production and rapid circulation of conspiracy theories. Within this framework, digital media played an important role in the rapid dissemination of images and narratives that provided dystopic explanations about public health regulations. Furthermore, the digital circulation of dystopic conspiracy theories mobilized people who more and more shifted to the political right disseminating grim pictures of the future to come. 
This paper will present the first results of the research project DigitalHate. Through a big data analysis, computational critical discourse analysis, and visual analysis, the project explored how digital media platforms such as Twitter and Telegram have turned into spaces where a high quantity of dystopic narratives (not only) about the pandemic have been produced and rapidly circulated. Amongst other reasons, ever-changing public health policies as well as contradicting science and political communication opened spaces for the recycling of aged conspiracy narratives and dystopic narratives announcing the end of times. Drawing on rich data from German speaking digital platforms, the project demonstrated how the dystopic imaginations of the future was often intertwined with Germany’s own troubled past.

Yener Bayramoğlu is a Marie Skłodowska Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Manchester Metropolitan University and a senior researcher at the research project Digital Hate at the Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin. He received his PhD degree in media and communication from the Freie Universität Berlin. His work focuses on digital media, political communication, communication history, queer theory, migration, and hate speech.