New Books Network

Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, conspiratorial thinking has taken deep root in contemporary Russia, moving from the margins to the...

Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, conspiratorial thinking has taken deep root in contemporary Russia, moving from the margins to the forefront of cultural, historical, and political discourse and fueled by centuries-long prejudices and new paranoias. In his characteristically witty, irreverent style, Eliot Borenstein (Professor of Russian & Slavic Studies, Collegiate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Acting Chair of East Asian Studies, and Senior Academic Convenor for the Global Network at New York University), draws on popular fiction, television, internet, public political pronouncements, religious literature, and other materials to trace the origins, history, and modern manifestations of Russian konspirologiia in Plots Against Russia: Conspiracy and Fantasy after Socialism (Cornell University Press, 2019). We discuss popular conspiracy theories such as the Harvard Project and the Dulles Plan, why and how conspiratorial thinking has flourished in post-Soviet Russia, the dynamics of paranoia and melodrama and the roles of anti-Semitism and homophobia in framing and shaping conspiracy theories, the construct of Russophobia as a key element in nationalist ideology, and the influence of the changing U.S.-Russia relationship on konspirologiia in recent years.


Diana Dukhanova is Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Her work focuses on religion and sexuality in Russian cultural history, and she is currently working on a monograph about Russian religious philosopher Vasily Rozanov. Diana tweets about contemporary events in the Russian religious landscape at https://twitter.com/RussRLGNWatch.