Thilo Neidhöfer
ifk Research Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2023 bis 31. January 2024

A Knowledge History of Rumor Control in the United States


This project investigates the history of rumor control in the United States between 1941 and 1974 based on two asynchronously arranged examples that represent the only large-scale endeavors of their kind in the 20th century: first, the Office of War Information's Rumor Project and the nongovernmental Rumor Clinics that were deployed in World War II (beginning in 1941); second, the partly governmental Rumor Control Centers (beginning in 1967) that were established in response to the race riots. In this context, rumors are conceptualized as an interface that at once allowed for micro-control and macro-control of society. Using a »thick description« of various case studies, a specific kind of security thinking, which began to take shape at the beginning of the 1940s, will be traced through the 1970s.


Thilo Neidhöfer studied history and political science in Oldenburg and Long Beach, CA, before completing his PhD at the University of Linz with a thesis on Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and cultural anthropology. The book was published by transcript in 2021. He has held fellowships at the GHI Washington, ifk Vienna, MPIWG Berlin, and Harvard's History of Science Department. Thilo Neidhöfer is interested in the relationship between science and politics and, more generally, in research topics that allow inquiry into the validity of knowledge.


Arbeit an der Kultur. Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson und die amerikanische Anthropologie, 1930–1950, Bielefeld 2021; »Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Ehe für das Anthropologinnenleben. Ehe und Feldforschung bei Margaret Mead«, in: Christine Fornoff-Petrowski und Melanie Unseld (Hg.), Paare in Kunst und Wissenschaft, Wien/Köln/Weimar 2021; gem. mit Barbara Louis, »Private Lives of Scholars«, in: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 1., Oxford 2015.

30 October 2023
  • Lecture
ifk & ifk@Zoom
Thilo Neidhöfer

Gefährliche Gerüchte. Eine Geschichte von Rumor Control in den USA

Nach dem Angriff japanischer Marineluftstreitkräfte auf die Pazifikflotte der USA in Pearl Harbor während des Zweiten Weltkriegs sowie im Zuge der Race Riots ab den späten 1960er-Jahren gab es jeweils breit angelegte Versuche von Rumor Control in den USA.