Conspiracy Belief and Political Identity: COVID-19 Conspiracy Narratives in Iran

Afsane Rezaei (Utah State University)

This paper examines COVID-19 conspiracy narratives and their political dynamics in Iran. While incorporating the more globally spreading themes, many of these narratives identify the Iranian state as the primary "bad actor" in the creation or spread of the virus, faking the pandemic, or using vaccines or quarantines as a means of control. The paper shows that these conspiracy narratives, while scrutinizing the state's claims of truth, lead to a form of political boundary-work that brands pandemic deniers and conspiracy believers as "us" and those questioning their anti-science rhetoric as “regime supporters,” in essense equating belief in COVID conspiracy narratives to being on the side of the people.

Part of 09-07 Vernacular Responses to COVID, Saturday, October 15, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm