Civic reasoning through paranoid and reparative reading: Addressing conspiracy theories within racialized and queer publics

Dozono, Tadashi
Theory Into Practice

When classrooms fail to provide racially marginalized students with frameworks that explain their daily experiences, sometimes students turn to conspiracy theories, however inaccurate. This article links marginalized students’ critiques of society and paranoid readings of the world with civic reasoning. Through queer and critical race theory, this article offers practices within civics classrooms to address marginalized students’ turns to conspiracy theories, rethinking civic reasoning from students’ paranoid positionalities as targets of systemic oppression. These practices stem from my teaching a twelfth-grade civics course which centered conspiracy theories, and students’ distrust of the government and media. Recommendations for practice include providing terminology and documentation of marginalization; defining the line between conspiracy and conspiracy theory, science and pseudoscience; embracing fallibility as analytic virtue; and repairing students’ relationships to science and sources.