Alister Wedderburn
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‘A way of operating’
Humour, subjectivity and the everyday
in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
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Chapter 1 develops a conceptual framework through which to understand humour’s relevance to world politics, putting forward an account of humour as a vehicle for the performative articulation and negotiation of political subjectivity. It argues that humour plays an active and constitutive role (though also an ambiguous and indeterminate one) in the creation and maintenance of subjective identity – in which capacity it also helps to shape and reshape intersubjective relations, both within and between political communities. Drawing on the laugh that underpins Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things and Michel de Certeau’s theory of everyday life, the chapter theorises humour as a ‘way of operating’: as a field of everyday practice that is both irreducible to and inextricable from the broad network of relations that comprise its social and political terrain. In so doing, it positions humour at the liminal boundary-zones of social order, revealing and sometimes contesting the exclusionary terms of belonging that underpin all individual and group identities. This understanding of humour provides the foundation for the book’s enquiry.

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Humour, subjectivity and world politics

Everyday articulations of identity at the limits of order


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