Humour under occupation: Jokes and humorous anecdotes and their reflections in Palestine


Kamal, Noura (2023). Humour under occupation: Jokes and humorous anecdotes and their reflections in Palestine. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/13675494231188912


Humour plays a substantial role in the dissemination of ideas, beliefs and practices. In particular, it can offer an alternative framework for addressing situations of struggle, stress and suffering, such as war, political strife and social upheaval. In Palestine, humour is manifested in many everyday interactions, functioning as a coping mechanism and offering a way to confront both the Israeli Occupation and the dire political and economic situation. This article engages with humour as it occurs in the everyday lives of Palestinians, looking at the role of humour in a specific context, in a time of political violence. One of the arguments I wish to make is that each new atrocity or each further erosion of rights is reflected in a new series of ‘in-jokes’, which enable Palestinians to refer to, make sense of and adapt to the painful realities they encounter in everyday life. The narratives of individuals’ lives in Palestine are reflected upon via the exploration of humorous daily discourse which is displayed in jokes and humorous anecdotes. I explore what thoughts, desires and fears individuals and families in Palestine share within their social networks in the form of jokes. In addition, the article traces what kind of jokes are circulated and how people in various situations react to different kinds of jokes.