The thesis examines Serbian conspiracy culture at the time of the NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999. During the war, conspiratorial themes became a regular
occurrence in Serbian mainstream media, as well as in pronouncements by the Serbian
political establishment. For the most part, conspiratorial explanations focused on the
machinations of transnational elite organisations such as the Bilderberg group or, more
generally, on the conspiracy of 'the West'. However, conspiratorial accounts of the war
occasionally invoked themes which were previously deemed to be beyond the boundaries of
acceptable opinion, such as the allusion to a Jewish conspiracy or to the esoteric and occult
aspects of the alleged plot.
The thesis outlines the history of conspiracy theories in Serbia and critically reviews
psychological approaches to understanding the nature of conspiracy theories. It suggests that
the study of conspiratorial discourse requires the exploration of the rhetorical and
argumentative structure of specific conspiratorial explanations, while paying special attention
to the historical and ideological context within which these explanations are situated.
The thesis is largely based upon the examination of the coverage of the war in the Serbian
press. Recorded conversations with two well-known Serbian conspiracy theorists are also
analysed. The study suggest that conspiratorial interpretations of the war drew upon a
longstanding conspiracy tradition of explanation which has a strong anti-semitic legacy and is
rooted in right-wing Christian ideology. Analytic chapters explore the discursive and
ideological dynamics by which the anti-semitic and mystical aspects of the conspiracy
tradition emerged briefly in Serbian mainstream media and political discourse. The thesis
concludes by examining the status of conspiracy theories in Serbia in the aftermath of the
political changes in October 2000.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.