In this edition of the Transnational Memory Seminar, Dr Damir Arsenijević will speak about 'Jokes, War, and Genocide: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina'. The seminar is organised with support from the focus area Cultures, Citizenship and Human Rights.
From joke to insight
Arsenijević will present the collective work of the working group on Jokes, War, and Genocide, which he initiated in Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 2012. This working group collectively explores jokes as one of the ways to speak about war and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and attempts to come to a better understanding of the mechanisms of such speech, and the effects it produces in Bosnian society. Jokes, as speech about war and genocide, are posited and explored as specific forms of witnessing. In their analysis of the jokes, the working group locates and confronts the unconscious process by which war and genocide influences dominate our speech and language. This work starts with Freud's position that jokes and the enjoyment gained through jokes are short-circuits. In such short-circuits through jokes on war and genocide we gain insight into something more important and more disturbing—'finding the known anew', something we have already known but chose to be silent about. The seminar will deal with some of the following questions: what kind of enjoyment is enabled by these jokes? In relation to what kind of critique do the jokes protect and enable enjoyment?