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Humor, Amnesia, and Making Place

Constitutive Acts of the Subject in Gezi Park, Istanbul

Christopher Houston and Banu Senay

the specific agentive forces that enabled the formation of subjects during the events of Gezi Park. We argue that a widespread and efficacious political humor propelled the emergence of a new subject. But we note too that even in unremarkable times

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Dafna Lemish and Shiri Reznik

This study explores gender differences in the roles of humor in the lives of Israeli children. Thirty-four Jewish middle-class Israeli children, sixteen girls and eighteen boys, aged between eight to ten years, were interviewed in focus groups in which they discussed a variety of humorous video segments, jokes, and everyday humor. The analysis suggests that humor in interaction is a highly gendered process in this age group and is employed differently by boys and girls to perform their gendered identities. Girls engaged much less in sexist and aggressive humor and clearly used it to maintain their separateness from boys and younger children. We conclude that humor provides us with another avenue through which to unveil the complicated processes of gender construction in pre-adolescent childhood, while demonstrating at the same time the ambivalence and complexity involved in these processes.

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Never Mind the Ballots

The Edible Ballot Society and the Performance of Citizenship

Matthew Hayes

parties. According to the EBS website, 1 “voting is not only useless, it actually undermines genuine democracy by legitimizing an inherently undemocratic process.” The EBS protests were, I advance, performances of citizenship that drew on humor and a

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Dirk Eitzen

There is a striking divide, in the literature on comedy, between approaches that stress the social functions of humor, including social control and alleviation of social stresses, and approaches that focus on the psychological mechanisms of humor, including incongruity and arousal. These two kinds of approach have proven quite resistant to integration, because they are rooted in fundamentally different understandings of the pleasure of humor. Put simply, the pleasure of the put-down is hard to square with the pleasure of the pun. This article examines new scientific research on humor, including recent brain imaging studies, to see if there is any evidence for an empirical divide. The conclusion, in practical analytical terms, is that when, near the start of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Shaun fails to notice that he is surrounded by zombies, our perception of the inappropriateness of the character's actions and our perception of the playfulness of the depiction are both necessarily involved in our perception of the scene's funniness.

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Fiona Cullen

Much previous scholarly work has noted the gendered nature of humor and the notion that women use comedy in a different way than do their male peers. Drawing on prior work on gender and humor, and my ethnographic work on teen girl cultures, I explore in this article how young women utilize popular cultural texts as well as everyday and staged comedy as part of a gendered resource that provides potential sites for sex-gender transgression and conformity. Through a series of vignettes, I explore how girls do funny and provide a backdrop to perform youthful gendered identities, as well as establish, maintain, and transgress cultural and social boundaries. Moving on to explore young women and stand-up I question the potential in mobilizing humor as an educational resource and a site in which to explore sex-gender norms with young people.

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Jari Lyytimäki

How can humor illustrate critical trends related to social, economic, and ecological sustainability? This article is based on a case study that focused on the film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) and two related short films—Rare Exports Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports: Official Safety Instructions (2005). These fantasy films employ irony and dark humor that reverse the popular impressions related to Santa Claus and his elves and, more generally, exotic northern nature and culture. By representing the gentle Santa Claus as a savage hybrid creature brutally punishing those not adhering to certain social norms, these films break several conventional dichotomies between good and evil, human and animal, and society and nature. The use of dark humor and irony may compromise attempts to create public understanding based on best available scientific knowledge, but it also opens up complementary and potentially fruitful ways to discuss sustainability issues. Irony provides opportunities to identify and criticize unsustainable trends and to challenge and disclose dichotomies that may otherwise remain unnoticed.

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Michelle Bumatay

This article explores the strategies Gabonese cartoonist Pahé deploys to disrupt media-driven images of Africa in both his autobiographical series La vie de Pahé ['The Life of Pahé'] and the fictional series Dipoula, co-created with French cartoonist Sti. It focuses on the role of humor as a way to mock Western hegemony while exposing how sustained colonial logic informs Western representations of Africa. Using humor that thrives on misrecognition, Pahé thwarts readers' expectations and facilitates new possibilities for thinking through the relationship between Europe and Africa, while also drawing attention to the attendant relationship between Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées and other Francophone comics.

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Hannah Birr

It has become a commonplace that the audience of a film is active. What sort of activity is involved when the audience is from one culture—say, Germany—and the film is from another culture—say, India? This article examines the processes involved in such cross-cultural film reception. It focuses on two aspects that are often regarded as problematic for the enjoyment of a film in terms of understanding and emotional response. The first is an obviously characteristic feature of Hindi cinema, namely the song and dance sequences. The second is perhaps less obvious, but no less characteristic—intertextuality and self-referential humor. The example explored in the article—Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om—displays a multitude of ironic allusions to the history of the Indian film industry and other culturally specific elements, which present a special challenge to uninformed audiences. In this context the article concentrates on a segment of active viewers that has at least some degree of familiarity with, but, more important, expresses a definite interest in Hindi cinema: Western (non-Indian) fans. The article argues that it is a misconception to regard cultural particularity as essentially problematic. On the contrary, elements that initially seem to present a hindrance might actually facilitate the development of empathy and identification. The point is perhaps particularly true in the social context of fan (culture) reception and offers some explanation for the films' cross-cultural appeal.

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Perspectives of (and on) a Comedic Self

A Semiotics of Subjectivity in Stand-up Comedy

Marianna Keisalo

from its study will contribute to the study of both comedic and non-comedic sign processes. Humor has been a somewhat rare topic in anthropology, but the sparsity of research does not reflect its importance in social life. The more institutionalized

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"You’re a Trickster”

Mockery, Egalitarianism, and Uncertainty in Northeastern Namibia

Megan Laws

The trickster has held a prominent place in the study of folklore, as much as it has been central to anthropological understandings of egalitarianism. In both, the trickster embodies an insoluble tension between the repressed, amoral desires of the individual and the moral demands of social life. This tension, so it goes, is visible in the ambiguity of the figure—a protean indeterminate being, neither good nor bad. Among the Jú|’hoànsi of northeastern Namibia, the trickster is similarly ambiguous. The figure conveys not a clash of values, but rather the doubt and uncertainty people feel toward those with whom they share resources, or about different ways of sharing and how they might relate to one another. This article approaches such uncertainty through a focus on the mocking phrase “you’re a trickster” and the moral discourses that accompany it.