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Mel Bunce

crises, they increasingly encounter media content that blurs the line between reality and fiction. This includes everything from rumours and exaggerations on social media, through to partisan journalism, satire and completely invented stories that are designed to look like real news articles. Although this media content varies enormously, it is often grouped together under nebulous and all-encompassing terms such as ‘fake news’, ‘disinformation’ or ‘post-truth’ media. Scholars have started to pay serious attention to the production and impact of all

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Thinking through difficult times
Author: Ilan Zvi Baron

In 1989, in the American journal The National Interest, Francis Fukuyama's conclusion was about the triumph of Western democratic liberal capitalism over communism. The forces of liberal capitalism that he saw as representing the end of history have unleashed a powerful wave of anger directed at the winning elites. This book is written with two purposes in mind. The first is to try to make some sense of what appears to be a world that is falling apart around us. The second is to try to advance an argument about where we go from here. One of the arguments of the book is that the Brexit and Trump results are a consequence of a series of failures. The book explores debates about methodology and political theory, and about the importance of context and thus of narratives. It discusses points from this debate between the behaviouralists and those in political theory. The book discusses the electoral results of Trump and of Brexit, offering an interpretation of what these results mean in the context of a post-fact world of identity politics. It argues for the importance of political responsibility and of how by recasting and re-emphasising the politics of responsibility becomes possible to address the current failures of our political leaders and political systems. The book suggests three elements to politics: the relationship between knowledge and power, with a particular emphasis on the role of interpretation; political responsibility or the politics of responsibility; and the significance of narratives or meaning (hermeneutics).

Open Access (free)
Environmental justice and citizen science in a post-truth age
Editors: Thom Davies and Alice Mah

This book examines the relationship between environmental justice and citizen science, focusing on enduring issues and new challenges in a post-truth age. Debates over science, facts, and values have always been pivotal within environmental justice struggles. For decades, environmental justice activists have campaigned against the misuses of science, while at the same time engaging in community-led citizen science. However, post-truth politics has threatened science itself. This book makes the case for the importance of science, knowledge, and data that are produced by and for ordinary people living with environmental risks and hazards. The international, interdisciplinary contributions range from grassroots environmental justice struggles in American hog country and contaminated indigenous communities, to local environmental controversies in Spain and China, to questions about “knowledge justice,” citizenship, participation, and data in citizen science surrounding toxicity. The book features inspiring studies of community-based participatory environmental health and justice research; different ways of sensing, witnessing, and interpreting environmental injustice; political strategies for seeking environmental justice; and ways of expanding the concepts and forms of engagement of citizen science around the world. While the book will be of critical interest to specialists in social and environmental sciences, it will also be accessible to graduate and postgraduate audiences. More broadly, the book will appeal to members of the public interested in social justice issues, as well as community members who are thinking about participating in citizen science and activism. Toxic Truths includes distinguished contributing authors in the field of environmental justice, alongside cutting-edge research from emerging scholars and community activists.

How we avoid insight from others
Author: Mikael Klintman

Why do people and groups ignore, deny and resist knowledge about society’s many problems? In a world of ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake news’, and ‘fact resistance’ that some believe could be remedied by ‘factfulness’ or ‘enlightenment’, the question has never been more pressing. Following years of ideologically polarised debates on this topic, the book seeks to further advance our understanding of the phenomenon of knowledge resistance by integrating insights from the social, economic, and evolutionary sciences. In current debates and studies, several vital factors are downplayed: that all people and institutions – even science – occasionally resist knowledge while calling their resistance ‘scepticism’, that knowledge resistance is not always irrational, that facts don’t equal truth, and that knowledge claims continuously need to be re-evaluated. Ignoring such key factors undermines the chances of reducing problematic knowledge resistance. Examples used in the book include controversies over climate change, the roots of violence, gender roles, religion, child-rearing, vaccination, genetically modified food, and artificial intelligence. In addition to accessible discussion of the scholarly literature and media sources, in-depth interviews with other renowned human scientists in the UK about their perspectives on knowledge resistance contribute to understanding this intriguing phenomenon. Moreover, the author shares his personal experiences of cultural clashes between different knowledge claims. The book is written for the educated public, students, and scholars interested in how people and groups handle knowledge controversies, and how such disputes can be resolved in the service of better managing the urgent social, environmental, and health-related problems of today.

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Simon Mussell

Coda I n lieu of a summary restatement of the preceding chapters, it seems more appropriate to finish by considering the role of affective politics in our contemporary moment. Much has already been written about 2016 marking a uniquely turbulent year of political upheaval, expressive of widespread discontent with the ‘establishment’, elites, and experts. What might a critical theory of affect have to say in response to the ostensibly seismic political events encompassed in Brexit, Donald Trump, and our supposedly new ‘post-​truth’ age? Let us take the last

in Critical theory and feeling
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Performing witnessing in a post-truth era
Amanda Stuart Fisher

Conclusion: Performing witnessing in a post-truth era When delivering a lecture on testimonial theatre to some first-year undergraduate students in 2017, I began by asking the class to tell me how they understood the term ‘testimony’, what it meant and what importance it held for society today. One of the students put his hand up and asked whether, in fact, testimony today had any relevance at all, since, he pointed out, we were now in an era of post-truth. The student’s question was both important and relevant; it also highlighted some of the confusion that

in Performing the testimonial
Marcel H. Van Herpen

Proposal #16: defend the truth in a “post-truth” world The recent wave of populism has enriched the language with several new concepts. One of these is the term fake news ; another is the word post-truth . A search on Google gives for “fake news” 67,600,000 results and for “post-truth” 41,900,000. 1 Oxford Dictionaries chose the word “post-truth” as the Word of the Year 2016, defining it as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief

in The end of populism
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Jane Austen in a post-truth age
Vincent Quinn

‘Wait! Are they together now? Donald Trump and – Jane Austen ?’ Well, why not? Internet memes create their own realities and fan fiction has long since specialised in mining literary and historical narratives for radically new pairings. In a post-truth age, why shouldn’t Donald and Jane get it together over their shared admiration for Trump: The Art of the Deal ? Stranger things have happened, usually after polling companies have predicted the exact opposite. Don’t think, though, that I have invented this fantastic relationship entirely

in Reading
Open Access (free)
Tackling environmental injustice in a post-truth age
Thom Davies and Alice Mah

Introduction: Tackling environmental injustice in a post-­truth age Thom Davies and Alice Mah It is difficult to make sense of a historical moment when you are caught in the middle of ­it – ­and difficult to tell if it even is a moment, or just a small part of something far bigger. Over the past few years we have witnessed rising authoritarianism, extreme weather events attributed to climate change, the fallout from political populism, and – as this book goes to print – a global pandemic. In 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary made post-truth its word of the

in Toxic truths
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The frayed edges of the spectacle
Stewart Allen

by contemporary development institutes and the active role they play in constructions of success. Attending to how such assemblages are constructed, the materialities and the social and economic foundations that furnish them with voice and vitality may go some way to arresting another kind of heterotopic spectacle currently in our midst, and one that was hinted at in the opening pages – that of the challenging of expertise, and, by extension, what has been termed the ‘post-truth’ era. Bunker touches upon this in his opening dialogue as he seeks to re-define what

in An ethnography of NGO practice in India