Τρίτη, 5 Μαΐου 2020

Read more or reply Back to top Seeking input: The hybridized imprimatur in contemporary legend, fake messages, and conspiracy theory by Ian Brodie Dear Colleagues, As we are collecting and researching rumors and information circulating about COVID-19, we are noticing how a specific character type has emerged in distinct versions to provide the narrative’s legitimacy. Today we are asking whether you have noticed this appeal in versions you may have collected of similar accounts, both in oral and written forms. In the contemporary legend, the internal credibility of the legend is typically attributed either to the source being something “in the news” or “from the police department” (or through some other Foucaultian apparatus of authority), or through the classic “friend of a friend” channels of social trust. Within the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed, particularly in authoritarian or so-called “hybrid” (formally democratic) regimes, how a hybridized form of these two appeals has emerged. Looking closer, this new (or perhaps third) type of framing for rumors/fake messages consists of two subtypes: The source of the rumor is a junior member of some institution, which in the COVID-19 situation is highly important for “us”, the recipients of such messages. If this institution is foreign (like, for example, a hospital in Wuhan), often this “source” shares her/his ethnic identity with “us”, not with this institution. For example, in February several pieces of pseudo-medical advice appeared in Chinese blogs, which were later translated into different languages, including English. In every language they have their own attributed source: in Chinese it was “my sister’s son“ (so, friend-of-a-friend), in at least one American source it was someone from Mount Sinai, the New York hospital, and another from Stanford University (i.e. institutional authorities). In Russia it was transformed into “The young Russian doctor Yura Klimov is working in the hospital in Wuhan. He called his relatives and said..”: in this version the source is an identified Russian friend inside an alien institution, and thus the type of hybrid reference that earns people’s trust. The second subtype of such a hybrid is someone one step removed from the institution, either by familial association or by some other close relationship. The insider expert (as they are presented above) has not taken the initiative to share the information outside of their immediate family, but it is their close confidante who in turn recognizes that the information must be made known and does so, with the implication that it may bear some personal social risk. For example, in mid-March rumors arose about black helicopters coming to spray chemicals to disinfect public spaces (with advice on how to keep yourself safe from harm): in Russia the source was the wife of someone who works either in the ministry or the Army. These subtypes are similar to each other as they are virtually adjacent steps on the implied chain of appeal to the original source, yet on the level of the individual version the question is raised about who is transgressing which implied bond of trust and secrecy in order to make this information known: the expert to their institution or the family member to their affiliative group? The figure of this source, someone peripheral to authority, appears to address the logical question of how withheld information from within official agencies--an essential element in conspiracy thinking--enters into vernacular channels. Moreover, it would seem that, the greater the mistrust of official messaging or the news media, the more explicit this source is within the narrative. If you have examples or wish to contribute to this discussion, please respond to this thread on the H-NET site or email Ian Brodie (ian_brodie@cbu.ca) or Alexandra Arkhipova (alexandra.arkhipova@gmail.com).

Contemporary Legend: Special Issue on COVID-19

Call for Papers

(deadline for submissions August, 1 2020)
Contemporary Legend, the scholarly journal published annually by the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, is accepting submissions for a special issue on COVID-19.
Unfolding and uncertain events are the moments where narrative emerges (or re-emerges) to fill the vacuum, as people work to make sense of the present and immediate future especially when the explanations and prognostications of official sources are found to be contingent, incomplete, unsatisfactory, or untrustworthy. The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent disruption to daily lives is perhaps the most seismic event in living memory.
The editors of Contemporary Legend are proposing a special issue of the journal to take stock of the emergent vernacular responses to COVID-19, as a snapshot not only of the folkloric forms themselves but of the field’s thoughts about them. This issue will be in the spirit of the Fall 2018 special issue of the Journal of American Folklore on Fake News. The goal is to produce quality work quickly, so shorter and developing ideas are encouraged. Our commitment to blind peer review remains, so we are taking steps to ensure a rapid review, response, and revise protocol.

Aims and Scope

Contemporary Legend, the annual journal of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, aims to promote and encourage research and to provide a forum for those working in this vibrant area of narrative scholarship. Within this context the term ‘legend’ is interpreted in its broadest sense as including Sagen, dites, popular rumors, sayings, and beliefs as well as narrative, and as manifested in verbal art, print, popular culture, material culture, and digital media. Similarly, ‘contemporary’ refers not just to so-called ‘modern urban legends’ but to any legend in active circulation in a given community at any period in history.
The journal presents original research findings and theoretical analyses on all aspects of contemporary legend. The articles range from case studies of individual legends and historical analogues and exploration of legends in society to analyses of performances and transmission, form, meaning and function.
An international editorial board of distinguished scholars with a wide range of interests reviews all contributions, thereby maintaining the high standard of published material.

If you wish to be included in this upcoming issue, please send submissions to both co-editors by August 1, 2020.
Please email copies in Word (.doc or .docx) to:
Ian Brodie
Dept. of Literature, Folklore and the Arts,
Cape Breton University
Andrea Kitta
Department of English,
East Carolina University

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