International Review of Social History Supplement on Humour and Social Protest
International Review of Social History Call for Papers
Humour and Social Protest
The International Review of Social History (IRSH) is preparing a supplement on the role of humour in social protest. Contributions from any time period and from any region are welcome.
Humour is a most intriguing aspect of social life. It can be used in various ways, by a great variety of actors, to convey meanings and intentions, overt and covert, in cartoons and jokes, in puns and satires, in music and songs, in theatre and performances. As humour always contains at least some malice (possibly concealed), it can be extremely useful as a conflict device. In social and political conflict, ridiculing has often proved to be an effective means with which to damage the position of an adversary. Besides this primary, offensive function, humour has been instrumental in mobilizing sympathizers and support and helped to release tension during prolonged struggle. Within social movements humour was an important factor in distinguishing between “them and us”, helping to define the boundaries of the movement and its following, as well as constructing an internal hierarchy. The form and content of typical insider jokes circulating in social movements helped to exclude those who “didn’t get the joke” from the movement itself or from its core membership. Derogatory jokes about women (or men), youth (or the elderly), peasants (or city folk), Jews, gentiles, blacks and whites were used to develop and circumscribe a distinct milieu and subculture. Within social movements, some militants and leaders became highly popular thanks to their sense of humour and theatrical talents, using the speaker’s platform for a politicized form of stand-up comedy, and using this popularity as a basis for their career. Yet humour is by no means a simple revolutionary tool. Some movements considered their cause too grave to allow any laughs. Furthermore, some jokes typically further resignation and acquiescence, above all in self-deprecating humour. Humour may also serve well to preserve the status quo and the power of the ruling majority, by furthering stereotypes of the oppressed for example.
Selection criteria for papers
The International Review of Social History is preparing a Supplement on the role of humour in social protest. We are interested above all in articles that analyse how humour helps to create and sustain social movements. Various types of humour can be of interest, ranging from puns to trickster legends, from wayang performances to jazz music, from practical jokes to gallows humour. A dynamic approach would be appreciated: to what degree does humour support the emergence of a social movement? How does it foster the perception of community in that movement? Is the disappearance of humour related to a decline of the movement, or to increased tensions? Has the character of humour changed over time, for example from a self-deprecating tradition into a self-conscious and claiming position? Is humour always an inherent element in social movements with strong natural barriers, such as in separatist, inter-ethnic or inter-racial conflicts? Can humour be equally powerful in social movements that are strongly determined by ideological struggles? Is humour typically furthered by the leadership of the movement or by the grassroots?
Authors are encouraged to address one or more of these topics. Contributions dealing with any kind of social movement are welcome, from any time period and from any region. Yet to strengthen the comparative character of the Supplement, the editors would particularly appreciate comparative contributions and studies on social movements in non-Western societies.
Before 1 December 2005: brief outlines of articles by authors
February 2006: Letter of acceptance (or rejection) of proposals
Before 1 September 2006: First draft of articles
November 2006: Letter by the editors to authors about necessary revisions
Before 15 January 2007: Second draft of articles
April 2007: Final version of manuscript to copy editor
December 2007: Supplement is published
Please send outlines to: email@example.com
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