HUMOR AS SOCIAL CONTROL

Date:  Sunday, March 8, 2015
Speaker:  Ewa Wasilewska, Ph.D.

Dr. Ewa Wasilewska is an Associate Professor Lecturer at the University of Utah, Department of Anthropology and the Middle East Center with more than 30 years of experience working on different aspects of both the ancient and modern Middle East and Central Asia. Her formal education includes masters degrees in archaeology and history of the Middle East and Europe Middle Eastern studies emphasis on Turkish and a doctorate in anthropology. She is an author of two books Creation Stories of the Middle East, and of Anthropology of Humor and Laughter, as well as of many articles for both specialized and general audiences.

“All humor is offensive as long as its joking matter involves human characters, human actions, and/or human emotions, regardless of its subject matter. There are always winners and losers but rarely do we think how humor not only influences our lives but also controls them. Humor is a double-sided sword reflecting both perception and reality by capturing contemporary values, exposing conflicts and proposing solutions. This is a weapon that does not kill but may cause many deaths while, at the same time, protects all ideals of freedom as understood by all Americans. This lecture will focus on humor as social control and social conflict, using the famous (or infamous) Danish cartoons of 2005 as a starting point for a discussion about the potential of humor to correct all human behavior. ‘I think therefore I am.’ (René Descartes). ‘I laugh therefore I will survive.’” (Ewa Wasilewska)

References & Resources:  Ewa Wasilewska, ed.,  Anthropology of Humor and Laughter.   Cognella Press. 2013
“West Bank Story” – a musical comedy. 2005.

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