Anastasiya Astapova, Research Fellow, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Estonia

Conspiracy Theories about Nordic Countries in Eastern Europe: Migration and Gender-Related Plots

This seminar will discuss conspiracy theories and fake news about Nordic countries. Often nurtured by initial fake news in English, conspiracy theories about Nordic countries are especially popular in the neighboring Eastern European region. Their plots mostly concentrate on two topics: migration as well as gender and family-related values. The recurrent is, for instance, Eurabia conspiracy theory arguing that those Nordic countries which accept a lot of refugees ultimately aim to substitute Aryan European population with Muslims or Africans. Or, to give just a few examples on gender-related conspiracy theories on Norway alone, online articles in various Eastern European languages argue that Norwegian government has sanctioned pedophilia, that crying is illegal for Norwegian women, or that Norway has set the goal to become a 90% homosexual society by 2050. Similarly, fake news on Sweden claim that Swedish government has banned mandatory vaccination, that people in Sweden must sign a sexual consent form, or that Swedish police are not investigating rapes since migrants arrived.

I first noticed these stories when living in Sweden doing my postdoc and hearing back from my Eastern European friends and acquaintances on what they thought it should have been like to live in a Nordic country. Rarely the full-fledged narratives, these stories mostly manifest in online and verbal rumors—bits and pieces constituting the parts of more monolithic conspiracy theories. In the seminar, I will give several examples of how such conspiracy theories have formed and will reflect on why they are so resonating in the region neighboring the Nordic countries.

Anastasiya Astapova is Research Fellow, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Estonia, where she 2016 defended her thesis Negotiating Belarusianness: Political Folklore betwixt and between. 2017–2018 she was a postdoctoral research fellow, Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University. She is a member of COMPACT, a European network for research on conspiracy theories.

All seminars in the series.