This paper uses Australian case studies to demonstrate the continued evolution of the use of humour in environmental, peace, and social justice movements. Drawing from literature on the topic and from personal experiences in activist street-theatre over more than 20 years, I discuss the rationale and motivations behind humorous activism, and note audience reactions and impacts on participants. The paper is reliant on non-violence theory, within the multi-disciplinary paradigm of Peace Studies, in which education is closely linked to the non-violence tenet of ‘conversion’.
The paper describes some of the ways in which activists use humour to educate and ‘convert’ audiences, while at the same time providing positive, enjoyable, healing experiences for them. It describes how such work can also be healing for the performers themselves, through allowing a release of emotions such as rage and frustration. Humour is used to enliven and simplify popular education, and to complement other modes of education and activism. It is inclusive, drawing in audiences and adherents, and attracting media attention. It can empower and inspire audiences, and brings a healthy balance and diversity to activism. The case studies mentioned are anti-nuclear campaigns such as Jabiluka blockade and Roxby Downs and other campaigns such as in Tasmania.
- Abstract 41
- Historical use of humorous activism 42
- Enlivening popular education 42
- Conversion 44
- Creating holistic, liminal atmospheres 46
- Creating inclusive movements 47
- Reaching large audiences 48
- Communication 49
- Making activism sustainable 50
- Conclusion 51
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This article was published in the Australian Journal of Communication Vol 34 (1) 2007, pp. 41-57. Article provided courtesy of the author, Marty Branagan who has also written the novel Locked On!
- Creative tactics
- Movements_Campaigns - Anti nuclear
- Wellbeing_Self care
- Wit and humour