Humour & Politics Workshop 2022 at the OVGU Magdeburg
Changing landscapes: From humour and/in politics to humour as politics
Social Sciences and other disciplines recently discovered the funny side of politics as topic worthy of scientific attention. The trend of using strategic humour in political communication, campaigns or attacks of adversaries is of special interest, especially in times of uncertainty, crisis and autocratization. Humour has for a long time been associated with resistance and being a weapon of the weak and therefore, often positive characteristics are ascribed to it. While it has previously been seen as revolutionary it is increasingly seen as counter-revolutionary due to its disincentivising and camouflaging effects. For example, researchers have become increasingly interested in strategies involving satire and comedy which play a key role in the transformation of the public sphere and the self-representation of new authoritarian and populist leaders ascribed to. Others have started looking at the role of emotions in humour used by political leaders, movements and parties. Overall, the workshop wishes to contribute to this increased interest by bringing together papers which examine the (new) role and function of humour in public culture and politics.
Amongst others, following questions are of interest:
- How can various disciplines contribute to a systematization of different styles and genres of humour?
- What can we learn from a performative lens on humour?
- How can political humour be investigated from an aesthetic perspective in performance and popular culture?
- How is humour connected to the debate about emotions in political communication and how can humour cause emotions?
- What can be said about the role of satirists and comedians in politics?
- How can humour be integrated in theoretical concepts like carnival, populism, authoritarianism, liberalism?
- How is humour used by the powerful in politics, society and various forms of organizations as a form of defence/insulation against criticism?
- How does humour contribute to uncertainty and the (de-)legitimation of (political) ideas?
- How can the recently successful figure of be tricksters and clownish figures connected to legitimacy?
- How is humour related to fake news, post-truth, attention and shareability?
- How does humour work in times of crisis? Does political humour decrease or increase uncertainty and ontological security?
- What does humour do in times of uncertainty and autocratization and how does it function in debates?
- How can the changing landscape of humour in the public sphere be transferred to fields like conflict resolution, tolerance, feminism, anti-racism and migration?
This workshop is interdisciplinary and we hope to address scholars who explore questions regarding the politics and constitution of humour form various disciplines such as political science, sociology, linguistics, literature theory, visual anthropology as well as film studies, media studies and visual culture.
The 2-day workshop will take place at Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg, Germany and is open to any theoretical or methodological approach. We welcome paper proposals from people at any stage of their academic career. The aim is to gather papers for a special issue in a leading international journal. Travel expenses (up to 250€) and accommodation in Magdeburg will be covered by the workshop organizers.
Alexander Spencer (Magdeburg University)
Daniel Beck (Magdeburg University)
While the images of war are unfolding on our screens and a war of images is taking place with the invasion of Ukraine, we realize again how important it is to take popular culture seriously. How certain ideas that make war possible, such as militarized masculinity, are being crafted, but also resisted. Luckily, there are also many examples that show the importance of the power of the popular as a tool for resistance to an oppressive order, whether it is the Black Lives Matter street art or collages denouncing feminicide and transphobic violence. Indeed, popular culture should not only be recognized as source of comfort in difficult and confined times. Popular culture is a powerful tool of contestation and emancipation.
PCWP10 was aimed at transcending disciplinary boundaries; PCWP11 asked us to explore new agendas and PCWP12 celebrated the work achieved. After a long break, this conference wishes to pursue on this line and to look for new (a)venues. We will continue to explore films, videogames, fashion, comics (and the list goes on) as a site of power, but also celebrate the emancipatory potential of the popular, look for changes and potentialities, emancipatory dynamics and resistance. At its 13th edition, the conference is for the first time hosted in Germany and wishes therefore to represent the valuable work that has been developed outside of Anglo-Saxons countries. Magdeburg, a city of the former East Germany, one of the oldest cities hosting one of the youngest universities, is an ideal place for (re)thinking the politics of the popular. Together with scholars from various disciplines and countries we will reflect on topics we are passionate about and support each other in the high and lows of the academic life. Indeed, this conference wishes to remain playful and welcoming in the line of the past conferences. It is also a perfect opportunity to get together again after a long break, to continue interrupted discussions and to widen the pop-cultural fan club
Although many of us grew tired of the often distanced, cold and impersonal character of virtual conferencing and are looking forward to being back in presence again, we believe that a hybrid format remains a good way to engage with environmentally friendly forms of exchange. We are also aware that it may not be easy or safe for everyone to travel, whether it is for health, security or financial reasons. Therefore, we welcome participants who cannot travel to Magdeburg to join us online.
Submissions tackling a wide range of themes within PCWP are encouraged. Paper, panels and roundtable proposals on, but not limited to, the following themes are welcome.
- Popular and visual representations of war
- Popular visualization of crisis and pandemic
- Popular culture and populism
- Memory, history and popular culture
- Postcolonial, Feminist, Queer perspectives on popular culture
- Class, race, gender and sexuality in popular culture
- Digitalization, social media and popular culture
A central concern of the conference is to empower researchers across disciplines and to foster dialogues across disciplinary and methodological boundaries. Thus, we aim to offer a supportive and developmental environment for researchers from all career stages, institutional homes, theoretical backgrounds, and methodological orientations.
Your PCWP Conference Team
Morgane Desoutter, Daniel Beck & Alexander Spencer