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I-PEEL: The International Political Economy of Everyday Life

I-PEEL: The International Political Economy of Everyday Life (1st edn)

James Brassett, Juanita Elias, Lena Rethel, and Ben Richardson
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date: 19 June 2024

p. 2419. Humourlocked

p. 2419. Humourlocked

  • James Brassett,
  • Juanita Elias,
  • Lena Rethel
  •  and Ben Richardson


This chapter discusses the ambiguous subject of humour in the everyday politics of globalization. It begins by drawing out three related concepts of resistance, carnival, and subversion to reflect on how joking and pranks can critique, but also reproduce, the inequalities and exclusions of market life. The chapter then analyses the ethical, social, and political functions of comedy. Satirical resistance has contributed to seemingly laudable interventions in the sphere of international development, like the Comic Relief fundraiser and the Make Poverty History campaign. Humour therefore seems to carry a productive association with issues of global justice and responsibility. Yet postcolonial scholars, and comedians themselves, have questioned the privileged agency of the white, male, Western comedian typically at the centre of such interventions. Moreover, the widespread circulation of humour and irreverence within the public sphere might even create an opportunity for the ‘weaponization’ of irony by populists and authoritarian states.

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