IDP Speaker Series with Amarnath Amarasingam

Dangerous Conspiracies: Why Some Bad Ideas Produce Violence

Dangerous Conspiracies: Why Some Bad Ideas Produce Violence


Thursday September 28, 2023
12:10 pm - 1:10 pm


Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 448 - Queen's University | Online via Zoom

Dangerous Conspiracies: Why Some Bad Ideas Produce Violence 

Conspiracy theories have long been woven into the fabric of society, but not all remain benign chatter in the dark corners of the internet. This talk delves into the dynamics of why certain conspiracy theories escalate into violent ideologies, focusing on findings from a comprehensive survey of the UK population. The presentation will also explore the history of movements like QAnon, their political influence, look at the current state of conspiracy theories like the Great Replacement and Antisemitic ideas. Amarasingam will illuminate the premise that while ideas in isolation seldom pose a threat, an amalgam of factors within an ecosystem of conspiratorial thought can steer individuals towards endorsing, or even advocating, violent action.

*note: Q&A will not be available for the online audience, if you would like to ask a question please join us in-person.


Amarnath AmarasingamAmarnath Amarasingam is an Assistant Professor in the School of Religion, and is cross-appointed to the Department of Political Studies, at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. His research interests are in terrorism, radicalization and extremism, conspiracy theories, online communities, diaspora politics, post-war reconstruction, and the sociology of religion. He is the author of Pain, Pride, and Politics: Sri Lankan Tamil Activism in Canada (2015), and the co-editor of Stress Tested: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Canadian National Security (2021) and Sri Lanka: The Struggle for Peace in the Aftermath of War (2016). He has also published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has presented papers at over 100 national and international conferences, and has written for The New York Times, The Monkey Case, The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, The Atlantic, and Foreign Affairs. He has been interviewed on CNN, PBS Newshour, CBC, BBC, and a variety of other media outlets.

Dr. Amarasingam is an experienced field researcher, having conducted hundreds of interviews for his PhD dissertation on social movement activism, organizational dynamics, and youth identity in the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, as well as over 50 interviews with former fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) throughout the former war zones of Sri Lanka in 2013 and 2014. He has also conducted field research in Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Somalia, Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine. He co-directed a study on foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, based at the University of Waterloo, for six years during which he conducted numerous social media and in-person interviews with current and former foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, as well as parents and close friends of those who travelled to fight. He has also conducted several interviews with former extremists on the far-right and conspiratorial movements.



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