The Wits Centre for Diversity Studies
10-th Annual International Conference

2024 Theme "Irreverence, Ridicule and the Risqué: Humour in (de)(pro)moting social justice" 
15 - 17 October 2024 | South Africa

Call for abstracts
Humour is often cast as innocent, harmless fun. As a result, it is easy to misrecognise humour as having nothing to do with the serious matters of the day. Yet humour plays a constitutive role in the social world - entrenching some widely accepted ways of thinking, while challenging others, often providing new perspectives. 
An integral part of sociality, humour permeates human activities. From contexts dedicated to entertainment and laughter, such as stand-up comedy, to spaces such as political commentary where the sting of ridicule may be received with ambivalence, there is no topic in our human existence -- even death -- that does not become subject to humour's wistfulness, irony or satire. As fast as techonology progresses, new media and communication mechanisms are co-opted into making fun - social media have become a carnival for the unregulated circulation of humour. It is clearly part of how we cope with stress, how we push boundaries and how we deflate the pretentions of the powerful. Throughout the ages, humour has been a vehicle both for disempowering some and yet also for speaking truth to power. 
Of particular interest for this conference, is how humour is implicated in, and acts through, on, and against the power relations that organise understandings of social differences. When is humour harmless? When is it dangerous? When should we applaud? Where do we draw the line? 
Our conference is therefore not about humour for the sake of humour but wishes to consider ridicule, laughter, and fun in the context of dismantling injustice, discrimination and othering, and in promoting a fairer, kinder, less exclusionary world.  
The conference invites papers and creative contributions that critically interrogate, engage with, explore, reflect on, and analyse questions or topics relating, but not limited, to the following themes:
· Humour and laughing up/down
· Why should we care about humour? 
· Weaponising humour: How is humour used to further hate, prejudice, and dehumanisation?
· Humanizing humour: How is humour used to break down hate, prejudice and dehumanisation?
· Humour in creating, perpetuating and fixing stereotypes
· Role of formal comedy and satire in promoting social (in)justice
· Just joking? The use of humour to cover up the real intent of a message
· Role of offence/horror/disgust/shame/vulnerability 
· Humour and microagressions
· Humour and knowledge/ignorance 
· Performance—the role of the body, voice and expression in humour 
· Humour and winding up/down tension
· Satire, mockery and ridicule
· Humour and dignity/self-respect
· Dynamics of defensiveness, distraction, and triggering in humour
· What to do with the humourless?
· Humour and transgression/violation 
· Humour and 'cancel culture'
· Humour and art forms/cartoons/comics
· Humour as catalyst for social change
· Humour and/as activism
· Humour and/as storytelling
· Humour and bluffing
· Case studies - eg. Trevor Noah, the Spear
· Humour and sensitivity
· Humour as self-protection, distancing and coping strategy
· When humour backfires
· Humour and masks 
· Role of cruelty in humour
· Hope/despair and humour
· (Dis)abling effects of humour 
· Humour and wokeness
· Role of joy, laughter and fun in building community and solidarity
· How do jokes lead to genocide?
· Role humour plays in (de)constructing categories such as race, gender, class, disability, queerness, nationalism etc. 
· Constructions of figures of ridicule
· Humour and tragedy
· Humuor, allegory and vulgarity 
· Humor in spaces we work and live
· The practice and politics of (feminist) killjoys and 'unlaughter'
· Who closes down laughter and why?
· Affective politics of humour, ridicule and comedy
· What is the function of humour? What does humour do?
· Ridicule and jokes as disciplining tools
· Who can laugh and who can't?
· Camp, drag and queer comedy
· Clowns, jesters and tricksters 

Submission Instructions:
250 - 300 word abstracts
Authors should provide paper/presentation title, author affiliation, author pronouns, contact details, and up to five keywords
Authors should provide paper title, author affiliation, contact details, pronouns, and up to 5 keywords. Please name your submission document as 'Surname_Name_Title'.
Send abstracts to or submit them below

Submission Deadlines:
Date for abstract submission: 10 August  2024 
Date for notification of outcome: 19 August 2024 

Conference Format:
The conference will take place in hybrid form - available online and in-person.
Online participation will be via Zoom.
The in-person venue is Holiday Inn Johannesburg Sunnyside Park. 

Registration fees and process will be communicated shortly. We look forward to welcoming you at the 10th annual WiCDS conference!
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