Article published in:Constructing and Negotiating Identity in Dialogue
Edited by Răzvan Săftoiu
[Language and Dialogue 5:1] 2015
► pp. 128–151
From joker to the butt and back
Ethnic identity construction through humour
Ethnic humour research has mostly conceived and studied ethnic humour as a humour that sets boundaries between jokers and joke targets and that ridicules the targeted ethnicities by assigning them (non) ethnic, universal qualities like stupidity, cunningness or asexuality. By relying on such universal categories this approach has not produced a satisfactory account of how humour can function as a mode of expressing, negotiating and even questioning ethnic identity. This can be accomplished by considering ethnically specific joke texts and focusing on the discourse of the joke target and his response to joking, rather than the joke text itself. To validate the claim, the study will first draws on theories of ethnic and national identity as to establish a workable understanding of ethnic identity constituents to be able to recognize and discuss their emergence in the material selected. It will then examine how and to what success the question of ethnic identity enactment through humour has been dealt by the ethnic humour theory and by some newer studies of the identity humour relation. After which, I will present the research carried out towards testing the hypothesis that is the discourse of the joke target that provides a more comprehensible insight into the question of ethnic identity display through humour. For this purpose, a corpus of little over than two hundred ethnic jokes coming from several Balkan countries was collected and two questionnaires were conducted in the neighbouring countries of Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Published online: 23 June 2015
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