Humor and Nonviolent Struggle in Serbia
"An original and useful contribution, drawing both on existing literature
and documentary sources as well as on interviews with participants.
It has the potential to advance understanding of the role of
humor and satirical stances in the generation of political change."—Eric Gordy, School of Slavonic and East European Studies,
University College, London
Janjira Sombatpoonsiri is lecturer of political science at Thammasat University in Thailand.
Book Description »[Close »]
"If I had no sense of humor, I should long ago have committed suicide," wrote
the late Mahatma Gandhi, expressing the potent power of humor to sustain and
uplift. Less obvious is humor’s ability to operate as a cunning weapon in nonviolent
protest movements. Over the last few decades, activists are increasingly
incorporating subversive laughter in their protest repertoires, realizing the ways
in which it challenges the ruling elite’s propaganda, defuses antagonism, and
inspires both participants and the greater population.
In this highly original and engaging work, Sombatpoonsiri explores the
nexus between humor and nonviolent protest, aiming to enhance our understanding
of the growing popularity of humor in protest movements around the
world. Drawing on insights from the pioneering Otpor activists in Serbia, she
provides a detailed account of the protesters’ systematic use of humor to topple
Slobadan Milošević in 2000. Interviews with activists, protest newsletters, and
documentaries of the movement combine to illustrate how humor played a pivotal
role by reflecting the absurdity of the regime’s propaganda and, in turn, by
delegitimizing its authority. Sombatpoonsiri highlights the Otpor activists’ ability
to internationalize their nonviolent crusade, influencing youth movements in the
Ukraine, Georgia, Iran, and Egypt. Globally, Otpor’s successful use of humor
became an inspiration for a later generation of protest movements.
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6 x 9, 288 pages, 9 black-and-white illustrations, 1 table, appendix, notes, bibliography, index