Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)
Session title: Geographies and Counter-geopolitics of Humor amid Adversity
Organizers: Lisa Bhungalia (Pittsburgh), Jessie Clark (Nevada), Jennifer Fluri (Colorado), Azita Ranjbar (Penn State)
Geographers draw on the geopolitics of vulnerability, precarity, biopower, homo sacer, and bare life (Agamben 1998, 2005; Butler 2006, 2009; Foucault 1978, 1980) to critically analyze gender, race, class, conflict, violence, and marginalization. Vulnerable bodies living in situations of conflict, abuse, acute violence, and displacement have simultaneously used humor and humorous acts and actions as an everyday form of counter-geopolitics. This session addresses the use of humor by vulnerable bodies in spaces and situations of continual and protracted adversity, especially through the lens of feminist geopolitics and emotional geographies. We seek papers that draw on ethnographic encounters with humor as an embodied and affective practice of coping, resisting and surviving adversity.
Humor amid adversity has been the subject of geopolitical research on political conflict and social justice. Geographers analyze and describe humor as a geopolitical tool of social movements (Routledge 2012) and a form of political satire in popular geopolitics (Cameron 2015, Dodds and Kirby 2013, Dittmer 2010, 2013, Kuus 2008), both deployed to contest and undermine hegemonic power. In a discussion of the subversive power of the Czech literary character, Švejk, Kuus suggests that humor “offers a lens through which we can think about agency of the margins without romanticizing their weak power position” (Kuus 2008, 259). Humor undermines rather than opposes power regimes (Kuus 2008) and calls attention to serious issues of power and inequality (Cameron 2015). Conversely, Billig (2005) describes “unlaughter”, “a display of not laughing when laughter might otherwise be expected, hoped for or demanded” (192) as another technique used to initiate critique, parody or resistance, particularly in situations that are not humorous (Hammett 2010).
In these examples, humor creates a distinctive and shared sense of place, a social bond, consolidates group identities and borderlines, and offers methods for creative opposition (Ridanpää 2014). Much of this research to date, however, has focused on the macro-scale and discursive expressions of humor as a form of resistance (Mehta 2012, Richards 2014) and political performance, while the everyday and affective engagements with humor in geopolitics are under-examined. Dittmer writes that geopolitical assemblages produce affective experiences – humorous and otherwise – that facilitate consensus building and debate (Dittmer 2013, Routledge 2013). And, Horn (2011) and Macpherson (2008) describe the everyday use of humor by vulnerable bodies as a coping mechanism and method to subvert stereotypes. Building on these insights, the papers in this session evaluate the embodied sites of humor from the voices of individuals/groups living in situations of uncertainty and conflict. We invite papers that draw on feminist geopolitics and/or emotional geographies (affect) to examine humor as a geopolitical coping mechanism, a form of resistance, and tactic of survival amid adversity.
Askins, K. 2009. ‘That’s what I do’: placing emotion in academic activism. Emotion, Space and Society 2, pp. 4-13.
Billig, M. 2005. “Laughter and unlaughter”. In: Billig, Laughter and ridicule: towards a social critique of humour. London: Sage Publications, pp. 175-199.
Cameron, J. 2015. Can poverty be funny? The serious use of humour as a strategy of public engagement for global justice. Third World Quarterly 36(2), pp. 274-290.
Dittmer, J. 2005. Captain America’s Empire: reflections on identity, popular culture , and post-911 geopolitics. Annals of the Association of American Geographers95(3), pp. 626-643.
Dodds, K. 2010. Popular geopolitics and cartoons: representing power relations, repetition and resistance. Critical African Studies 2(4), pp. 113-131.
Dodds, K. and Kirby, P. 2013. It’s not a laughing matter: critical geopolitics, humour and unlaughter. Geopolitics 18(1), pp. 45-59.
Flint, C. 2001. The geopolitics of laughter and forgetting: a world-systems interpretation of the post-modern geopolitical condition. Geopolitics 6(3), pp. 1-16.
Gibson, C. 2013. Welcome to Bogan-ville: reframing class and palce through humour. Journal of Australian Studies 37(1), pp. 62-75.
Hammett, D. 2010. Political cartoons, post-colonialism and crtitical African Studies. Critical African Studies 2(4), pp. 1-26.
Hernann, A. 2016. Joking through hardship: humor and truth-telling among displaced Tumbuktians. African Studies Review 59(1), pp. 57-76.
Horn, K. 2011. ‘Stalag happy’: South African prisoners of war during World War Two (1939-1945) and their experience and use of humour. South African Historical Journal 63(4), pp. 537-552.
Kuus, M. 2008. Svejkian geopolitics: subversive obedience in Central Europe. Geopolitics 13(2), pp. 257-277.
Macpherson, H. 2008. “I don’t know why they call it the lake district they might as well call it the rock district!” The workings of humour and laughter in research with members of visually impaired walking groups. Environment and Planning D: Social and Space 26, pp. 1080-1095.
Manzo, K. 2012. Geopolitical visions of climate change cartoons. Political Geography 31, pp. 481-494.
Mayo, C. 2008. Being in on the joke: pedagogy, race, humor. Philosophy of Education 2008, pp. 244-252
Mehta, H.C. 2012. Fighting, negotiating, laughing: the use of humor in the Vietnam War. The Historian
Nickels, C.C. 2010. Civil War Humor. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
Richards, C. 2014. Wit at war: the poetry of John Wilmot and the trauma of war. Eighteenth-Century Fiction 27(1), pp. 25-54.
Ridanpää, J. 2014a. Geographical studies of humor. Geography Compass 8(10), pp. 701-709.
—. 2014b. Seriously serious political spaces of humor. ACME. 13(3), pp. 450-456.
Routledge, P. 2012. Sensuous solidarities: emotion, politics and performace in the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. Antipode 44(2), pp. 428-452.
Swart, S. 2009. “The terrible laughter of the Afrikaner” – towards a social history of humor. Journal of Social History. Pp. 889-917