Mediatized Populisms| Conspiratorial Webs: Media Ecology and Parallel Realities in Turkey
This article aims to contribute to a theory of populism that considers not just discursive antagonistic struggle but also the material-ecological dynamics of communication reshaping populist politics. By focusing on Turkey’s “split media ecology,” which is both censored and algorithmically filtered, we show that instead of simply instituting disconnection and blockage, censorship also exploits connectivity and triggers further communication. The paradox of blockage and flow supports the proliferation of conspiracy theories and results in the conception of moral, epistemological, and ontological orders for Internet communication. The question is how media-ecological affordances reconfigure antagonistic struggle and populist politics. We argue that emerging political strategy exploits connectivity and flow while incapacitating and excluding other networks. Thereby, the segregations of the split media ecology support flexible rearticulations of the “enemy” on behalf of sovereign power. Yet techno-cultural dynamics including netwar and post-truth media engagement also prove detrimental to sovereign power as we know it.