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Everyday articulations of identity at the limits of order

This book offers a theoretically and empirically rich analysis of humour’s relevance to world politics. Drawing on literature from a range of disciplines including International Relations (IR), literary theory, cultural studies and sociology, its central claim is that humour plays an underappreciated role in the making and unmaking of political subjectivities. As such, humour not only provides an illuminating way into debates about identity and the everyday production and reproduction of order, but also opens up hitherto under- or even unstudied sites where this production and reproduction takes place. With reference to the ancient comic figure of the parasite, the book suggests that humour has historically been understood in relation to anxieties about subjectivity, estrangement and the circumscription and protection of the political sphere. It identifies three distinct spaces where humour has informed, enabled or defined ‘parasitic’ engagements with world politics. In the body of artwork produced by detainees in concentration camps, in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others (LGBTQ+) responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and in carnivalesque tactics of contemporary mass protest, one can observe actors engaging through humour in the interrogation, negotiation and contestation of social, political and international relations. Through these detailed studies, the book demonstrates how everyday practices like humour can draw from, feed into, interrupt and potentially transform world politics.

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Alister Wedderburn

consolidate these ideas by demonstrating their origins in some of the earliest surviving accounts of humour as a field of social and political practice. I draw on the mythical-theoretical discourses through which comedy was first established as an object of critical and philosophical concern in order to develop an account of its complex entanglement with questions and anxieties about political modes of being. Revisiting the earliest surviving account of comedy’s origins that we have – the Megarian theory recounted (and dismissed) by Aristotle in the Poetics ( 2006 ) – I

in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
Abstract only
Alister Wedderburn

formation of subjective identity (e.g. Der Derian and Shapiro, 1989 ; Campbell, 1992 ; Hansen, 2006 ). To engage in humour is therefore to participate in processes of social construction that blur the traditional distinction between doer and deed: humour, in short, is performative. To joke and laugh is not just to make a statement about who one is and how one relates to others: it is also a way of inhabiting the very form of life one is asserting ( Butler, 2010 : 155; Brassett, 2016 : 171). A handful of excellent articles within IR have begun to consider comedy

in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
Abstract only
Alister Wedderburn

subjective identity and intersubjective relations. Humour is part of a rich and complex field of everyday practice through which subjects make claims about who they are and how they relate to (or differ from) others, and it contributes to the emotional, affective and rhythmic landscapes that give those claims purchase and weight. Drawing on ancient accounts of comedy, I suggested that humour has historically been understood in these terms – and in particular, as a way of making a claim to political subjectivity from a position of political abjection or disgrace. In Greek

in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
Humour, subjectivity and the everyday
Alister Wedderburn

of belonging, and with order’s often violent attempts to maintain control over its own boundaries. These themes will be expanded upon in Chapter 2 with reference to the parasite, a stock character of ancient comedy. Humour, subjectivity and performativity IR’s turn towards the everyday can be understood as part of a wider project to ‘reorient … analysis [away] from [a] concern with the intentional acts of pregiven subjects to[wards] the problematic of subjectivity’ itself ( Campbell, 1992 : 8). Underpinning this broad and diverse literature is an ontological

in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
From starving children to satirical saviours
Rachel Tavernor

, by audiences, for humanitarian communication to be continually changing if it is to ‘work’.  Satirical saviours Since 1985, Comic Relief has been producing telethons that include a juxtaposition of comedy performances alongside emotive pleas to help people living in poverty. Yet, the use of humour in the narratives of global poverty produced by NGOs has a much shorter history

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Alexander Spencer

that we narrate to ourselves’ (Brooks 1984: 3). In fact, one may argue that we are currently in the middle of a narrative, in our case a narrative about the importance of narrative. As Roland Barthes has pointed out: Among the vehicles of narrative are articulated language, whether oral or written, pictures, still or moving, gestures, and an ordered mixture of all those substances; narrative is present in myth, legend, fable, tale, short stories, epics, history, tragedy, drame [suspense drama], comedy, pantomime, painting … stained-glass windows, movies, local news

in Romantic narratives in international politics
Juvenile actors and humanitarian sentiment in the 1940s
Michael Lawrence

different countries – appeared and functioned in four Hollywood studio pictures: Twentieth Century Fox’s suspense thriller The Pied Piper (Irving Pichel, 1942), Universal’s romantic musical The Amazing Mrs Holliday (Jean Renoir/Bruce Danning, 1943), RKO’s comedian comedy Heavenly Days (Howard Estabrook, 1944) and RKO’s family fantasy The Boy with Green Hair (Joseph Losey, 1948). I explore how these

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
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Once upon a time …
Alexander Spencer

for “a narrative,” because what matters to us are individual narrative genres’ (Ryan 2007: 32), such as tragedy, comedy or in this case romance. To show the intertextuality and persistence or relative absence of narratives and in particular romantic narratives, the empirical chapters of this book will focus on three realms of political narrative in Germany, Britain and the United States of America. This will include the narratives told by the political elite in parliamentary debates and speeches, media narratives found in print news media as well as cultural

in Romantic narratives in international politics
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The end
Alexander Spencer

narrative analysis is not only suited to investigating the idea of romanticization in world politics but might also prove fruitful in the analysis of other situations involving discursive struggles in genres such as comedy, satire or tragedy. In particular, tragedy in connection to disasters, mistakes and fiascos in international politics and foreign policy appears worthy of research. As I suggest elsewhere, narrative analysis can provide insights into the question of why certain political events or foreign policies are constituted 186 Romantic narratives in

in Romantic narratives in international politics