Millennialism, Conspiracy, and Stigmatized Knowledge

Michael Barkun

in A Culture of Conspiracy

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780520238053
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939721 | DOI:
Millennialism, Conspiracy, and Stigmatized Knowledge

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The sheer volume of activity makes the present period an era of particular interest to observers of millennialism. Attempts to map contemporary millennial ferment have become increasingly difficult and frustrating. This chapter focuses on the improvisational millenarian style, which is distinctive for its independence from any single ideological tradition. The improvisational style is characterized by relentless and seemingly indiscriminate borrowing, and provides holistic and comprehensive pictures of the world. The variety of their elements implies that the belief system can explain a comparably wide range of phenomena, from the spiritual to the scientific and the political. The combinations also suggest that apparent oppositions and contradictions can be resolved, and that an underlying unity transcends outward differences. Furthermore, stigmatized knowledge claims to designate a broader intellectual universe, into which both rejected knowledge and the cultic milieu may be fitted.

Keywords: millennialism; improvisational style; stigmatized knowledge; ideological tradition; cultic milieu

Chapter.  9473 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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