Dr. Haiven launches Summer Institute on Conspiracies and Countergames


RiVAL, the lab of Dr. Max Haiven, Lakehead University's Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, has just hosted the inaugural meeting of its annual Summer Institute.

This year the institute is online and dedicated to the topic of "Conspiracies and Countergames." The institute brings together artists, scholars and social movement organizers from around the world along with Lakehead students to explore common themes. This year's institute focuses on the relationship between conspiracy fantasies, games, gamification and the problems of capitalism.

The first meeting of the Institute featured a conversation with Haiven's research partners: Dr. Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou, a sociologist at University College London (where Haiven completed a visiting fellowship in the fall of 2020) and A.T. Kingsmith, a PhD candidate at York University and a co-founder of a biometrics startup. That discussion is archived on RiVAL's YouTube channel where the public is invited to tune in every Monday and Thursday, from July 19 - Thursday, Aug. 5, at 1 pm (EST) for future discussions with scholars, authors, games designers and artists from around the world.

Future guests include a member of Chicago's TESA Collective of social justice-oriented game designers (July 22), Halifax-based anti-racist poet, activist and scholar El Jones (July 26), Rutgers university professor and conspiracism expert Jack Bratich (July 29), award-winning and bestselling novelist and podcaster Hari Kunzru (August 2) and artist and activist Cassie Thornton (August 5). The public is welcome to watch all these conversations live or archived on YouTube.

The Summer Institute is entangled with a condensed graduate/undergraduate seven-week course Dr. Haiven is teaching cross-listed between the English, Media Studies and Social Justice programs. For the three weeks of the Institute students are joined by preregistered members of the public.

The topic of the summer institute develops themes Dr. Haiven is working on with his colleagues and seeks to understand how conspiracy fantasies form and take hold of the imagination in a gamified capitalist world. It also explores how critical "countergames" might be used to answer these dangerous tendencies. The broader project has launched a podcast of interviews with artists, scholars and activists at http://conspiracy.games.

More information about the speakers, schedule and project can be found on RiVAL's website: http://reimaginingvalue.ca.