This book, co-authored with Ilya Yablokov, provides the first ever study of how the Russian government engages with conspiracy theories in the international arena, with a particular focus on the use of conspiracy theories as an instrument of public diplomacy. With case studies including the Skripal poisonings, 2016 and 2020 US Presidential elections, and COVID-19, the book examines how global communication technologies influence the development and dissemination of conspiracy theories, which are also an important component of the post-Soviet Russian intellectual landscape and Kremlin-sponsored political discourse.
Government Disinformation in war and conflict
This chapter co-authored with Rhys Crilley for the The Routledge Companion to Media Disinformation and Populism, gives an overview of government mis/disinformation in war and conflict. First, it traces developments in thinking around government mis/disinformation in war, and its connection with the development of new communication technologies. Second, it reflects on what exactly may be novel about contemporary practices of government mis/disinformation in war and conflict. Finally, it explores the limitations of current research and suggests potential new directions for scholarship.
This chapter, co-authored with Lucy Birge for an edited collection on Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Uncertainty, presents empirical analysis of the multimedia outputs that Russia’s international broadcasters, RT and Sputnik, published around the 2018 Skripal poisonings. It argues that Russian public diplomacy efforts capitalise on declining trust in established institutions and increased openness to alternative sources of information and legitimacy: marginal perspectives are centred; information sources are curated; and the problems inherent to Western normative models—and the media narratives disseminated about them—are highlighted. Nonetheless, the evidence suggests that Russian public diplomacy efforts are rarely as effective as is commonly assumed.
This article in Global Society, co-authored with Dr Rhys Crilley, demonstrates that the blurring of news reporting and comedy is key to understanding how Russia's international broadcaster, RT, claims legitimacy for Russia's foreign policy. Humour is also key to understanding how RT's audiences make sese of RT's legitiation claims.
This article, co-authored with Prof Vera Tolz, Prof Stephen Hutchings and Dr Rhys Crilley, examines Russian media coverage of the 2018 Salisbury poisonings. It argues that in today's global communications environment, mediatisation substantially constrains the ability of non-democracies to micro-manage journalists’ treatment of major events relating to national security.
This article, co-authored with Rhys Crilley, combines discourse analysis of RT (formerly Russia Today) ‘breaking news’ YouTube videos of Russian military intervention in Syria with analysis of 750 comments and social media interactions on those videos. It demonstrates how important audiences' affective investments in the identities and events portrayed on-screen are for their understandings of armed conflict.
The year 2017 marked the centenary of the revolutions of February and October 1917 which led to the collapse of the Russian Empire.In what ways did today's globally-integrated, interactive global media environment influence the ways in which the revolutions and their legacies were commemorated for this centenary? In this introduction to a special issue of European Journal of Cultural Studies, Marie Gillespie and I argue that only an explicitly multidisciplinary approach can address the relationship between media and remembrances of revolution across and beyond the post-Soviet space.
Scholars predicted that official Russian commemorations of the centenary of the 1917 revolutions would prioritise ‘reconciliation and accord’ between pro- and anti-communists. As Vera Tolz and I show in the article for European Journal of Cultural Studies, what actually emerged was inconsistent, manufactured dissensus - calibrated to strengthen the ruling regime, not national identity.
Co-authored with Rhys Crilley for Media and Communication 7 (3), this article sets out a methodology for analysing audience affective investments in on-screen representations of war and conflict, and pilots its application on RT's 'breaking news' YouTube coverage of the Syrian conflict.
Co-authored with Dr Rhys Crilley for Stengel, MacDonald and Nabers (eds.) Populism and World Politics Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions (Palgrave Macmillan), the chapter updates discussions of populism and the media, for the present age. Media do not just transmit populist actors' messages: they significantly contribute to production and dissemination of transnational populist communication logics.
In recent years, numerous commentators have blamed postmodernism or poststructuralism for the rise of 'post-truth' politics. In this article, co-authored with Dr Rhys Crilley for Critical Studies on Security, we argue not only that poststructuralism is not to blame for the era of 'post-truth' politics, but that it offers tools than can help us make sense of security in the 'post-truth' age.
To deal effectively with any challenges that RT (Russia Today) represents in the global news environment, we need a better understanding of its appeal. In this open access article for E-International Relations I argue that RT’s operations shed light on a wider range of trends within the contemporary global media environment. The network taps into current trends towards populist communication logics across the global media, and discursively constructs transnational groups of 'us' and 'them' for whom the network presents itself as a moral arbiter.
This chapter in D. Lane and V. Samokhvalov (eds.) The Eurasian Project and Europe: Regional Discontinuities and Geopolitics (Palgrave Macmillan) interrogates the strategies behind Russia's overlapping institutional memberships across Europe and Eurasia.
This chapter in J. Gaskarth (ed.) Rising powers, global governance and global ethics (Routledge) looks at the normative content and motivations behind Russia's adoption of the 'rising power' identity.
In this article in Politics, I note that whilst Russian political elites have long been aware of the power of myths to forge national unity, they have at periods situated core myths within a highly selective narrative of Russian history. Accepted as contextual information for policy discussion, this limited narrative sets cognitive parameters for evaluations of Russia's history, identity and role. It prioritises the state, supports gradualism and continuity, and dramatically reduces the potential for re‐conceptualising Russia's role in contemporary international relations.