Religious Studies Ideas Lecture Series

Lived Conspirituality: Researching Conspiracy Theories and Alternative Spiritualities


Conspirituality—that is, the connection between conspiracy theories and “alternative” spiritualities—has recently gained popularity in academic and non-academic circles. Often associated with populist and irrational beliefs, it has been linked to right-wing politics, faulty thinking, and disruptive and potentially violent behavior. While these connections have been proven to be true, in some cases, they do not grasp the complexity and variability of the phenomena.

In this talk, grounded in my long-standing ethnographic research among practitioners of “alternative spiritualities” in Southern Europe, I propose to frame the study of conspirituality not only by focusing on ideas and beliefs, but in conversation with the study of “lived religion”—that is to say, in a way that distinguishes the actual experience of persons from normative beliefs and practices. Similarly to what the study of “lived religion” does to the study of religion, I claim that the study of “lived conspirituality” could do for conspirituality—offering insights that challenge and expand mainstream interpretations and understanding of conspiracism.


Dr. Giovanna Parmigiani, Harvard Divinity School, Research Associate, Transcendence and Transformation Centre for the Study of World Religions.