A Multi-sited Ethnography of Electoral Disinformation in the Philippines


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




Mainstream disinformation studies pin disinformation vulnerability on either the overpowering influence of social media platforms, or individual level psychological factors and shortcomings. Such approaches study disinformation as discrete objects—false claims or images with digital traces—oversimplifying media processes and neglecting social factors. These result in conveniently attractive but dangerously oversimplified explanations of disinformation processes that harm more than help. This project interrupts such thinking by asking in what ways does political disinformation figure or not into Filipino voters’ political decisions. Through ethnography, this project aims to study disinformation as a process of slow violence on voters. It examines the information-seeking and meaning-making behaviors and processes of people who engage with conspiracy theories about Philippine elections, and view contemporary electoral contexts as deeply intertwined with conspiracy theories. This approach illuminates disinformation vulnerability and consumption at the community level as products of micro-level social interactions and macro-level political communication.