Humour as political aesthetics in street protests during the political Ice Age

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This article analyses humour as a part of carnival aesthetics in urban social movements. It regards humour's place in street protests as an aesthetic experience that brings forth an interplay of joy, imagination and freedom. Drawing from social movement theory regarding collective identity and collectivism, aesthetic theory and Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of carnivalesque, this paper examines the link between humour and carnival aesthetics in recent social movements. It argues that carnival laughter initiates a process of symbiosis that opens relationships with others and allows recognition of democratic diversity, aesthetic sensibility and political dignity-essential for the reconstruction of a new space that is resistant to the politically imposed world crisis. It asks: could humour be one of the social catalysts we need during the authoritarian turn in a political Ice Age instigated by conservative populism? Drawing on examples from the Gezi Movement in Turkey in 2013, the article demonstrates how humour is not just a tool to consolidate solidarities but a definitive aesthetic experience that, in the context of the street protests, becomes the antidote to hegemonic-sense-making mechanisms and the greyness of our collective thinking.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Humour Research
Volume8
Issue2
Pages (from-to)129-145
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Aesthetic activism, Carnival laughter, Civil resistance, Humour, Social movements

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