Invitation to the 2023 QAnon Research Conference
Alternatively, the QAnonference™. Join us in March 2023!
While we are asking for a “research memo,” participants do not need to currently be working on QAnon research. We welcome all thoughts, ideas, and reflections on the future of QAnon, its related movements, and its mainstream iterations. We also welcome methodological takeaways, hopes, and propositions for studying internet movements, extremism, conspiracy theories, and the digital world.
In addition, we have had a number of requests to listen in on the conference. Because space is limited, and we want to prioritize the inclusion of those contributing original work, we encourage anyone who wants to listen in to sign up with a brief note explaining their interest. The best way to guarantee attendance is to submit a memo.
Sign up for the conference here.
The virtual QAnon Research Conference (or QAnonference™) 2023 will take place on March 9th and 10th, 2023 from 1pm to 4pm CT (2pm to 5pm ET // 11am to 2pm PT). The goal of this conference is to bring together researchers studying QAnon and its related movements in order to discuss the current state of QAnon research and methodologies, as well as their future.
The conference aims to address two major themes:
QAnon After Q
While the movement’s eponymous figure continues to post on 8kun, during their extended hiatus, conversations around the conspiracy theory have shifted. Now, political figures such as Donald Trump and Elon Musk are publicly embracing prominent QAnon supporters; a number of QAnon-borne offshoots have carved out their own political ambitions; and QAnon has found its place on alternative social media sites (plus Twitter, again). Estimates for QAnon support remain weak, but its presence is felt clearly in related far-right, anti-democratic movements. Some of our major questions include:
How should we be talking about QAnon today?
What are the gaps in our understanding of the movement?
What related phenomena should QAnon researchers focus on?
Empirical Approaches to QAnon
We’ve seen a number of inventive, interdisciplinary studies investigating QAnon in its five-year lifespan. Many of the earliest studies capitalized on the widespread availability of QAnon source material on mainstream, researcher-oriented sites such as Twitter. Now that QAnon has changed, approaches to studying QAnon have changed as well. Some of our major questions include:
What have we learned about studying QAnon while studying QAnon?
How can we continue to meaningfully investigate the movement? Other internet movements?
How can research become more collaborative, interdisciplinary, and public-facing?
Both conference days will be structured around submissions from participants that focus on the conference themes—though, of course, any and all submissions related to QAnon are welcome. We recognize that there are many incredible researchers working on QAnon, and we also recognize that not everyone is currently engaged in empirical research. Therefore, we are asking participants to submit a brief, (max one page) memo that discusses what researchers are currently working on, plan to work on, or generally curious about. We hope that this conference will serve as a space for testing ideas, sharing lessons learned, and collaborating on future research endeavors. We ask that all submissions be received by February 24th.
While the structure of the conference is still being finalized, the general format will include:
Memo-based breakout rooms
Full group conversations and summaries
Our hope is that the conference will be informal, accessible, and great for connecting with other researchers, prioritizing conversations and sharing over long speeches.
Sign up for the conference here.
The conference is not limited to university-affiliated researchers or researchers from any one discipline. We welcome anyone studying QAnon to fill out the form. If we feel that the conference is not the right place for you, we’ll reach out directly. If you are interested in facilitating at the conference, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This conference is being organized by Peter Forberg (PHI), Josephine Lukito (UT-Austin), Matthew Hannah (Purdue), and Christopher T. Conner (University of Missouri). If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
BONUS Call for Papers: Paranoid Publics: Conspiracy Theories and the Public Sphere
In addition, there’s a very relevant call for papers in Frontiers in Communication, organized by Matthew Hannah and Christopher T. Conner. Abstracts are due March 30th. Here’s a teaser, find out more here.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed a growing crisis in the public sphere, a crisis of information. Despite having unprecedented access to online information, more people than ever before are succumbing to mis- and disinformation, political radicalization, and unhinged conspiracy theories. Richard Hofstadter has described this phenomenon as the 'paranoid style' of American political life, and such radicalization has permeated all aspects of the public sphere, from online commentators to the halls of government. Conspiracies about election fraud, COVID-19 vaccines, economic and political power, and racial replacement have dominated public discourse, fueled by political extremism and far-right radicalization. Understanding the public impacts of such paranoid fantasies is an important arena for humanities and social science researchers and may have real impacts on the very foundations of democracy.