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CEREES Lecture: Authoritarian Laughter: Political Humor and Soviet Dystopia

When: Monday, April 8, 2024, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: Montagu Lecture Theatre (GC601), Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

Speaking on the topic of her award-winning book, Neringa KlumbytÄ— will examine the of humour in times of repression and war. In the Soviet Union official humor was a propaganda tool for instituting communist ideology and governing society. In Soviet Lithuania, paradoxically, while official humor institutions involved people in co-governance through the intimacy of laughter, they also created critical publics who shared dystopian visions of Soviet modernity via authoritarian state sponsored venues. These critical publics were mobilized in anti-Soviet revolutionary laughter in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In Soviet times, during the collapse of the USSR, or recently the war in Ukraine, humor has served as a medium of political participation and emancipation for a national cause.

About the Speaker:

NERINGA KLUMBYTĖ is Professor of Anthropology and Russian and Post-Soviet Studies and Director of the Lithuania Program at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University. She is the author of Authoritarian Laughter: Political Humor and Soviet Dystopia in Lithuania (Cornell UP, 2022), the winner of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Women’s Forum prize; a co-author of Social and Historical Justice in Multiethnic Lithuania (2018), and co-editor of Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism, 196485 (2012, with Gulnaz Sharafutdinova).

Event outline:

Welcome and introduction – 18:00

Discussion, chaired by Natalaya Chernyshova (QMUL) – 18:10

Drinks reception, meet the speaker – 19:30

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