And the Jest is History : Laughing Matters

‘And the Jest is History’ – the introductory panel discussion of Laughing Matters was a rich and careful exploration of the terrain that the conference as a whole intends to navigate. The panellists, Dr. Christel Devadawson, Dr. Sambudha Sen, Dr. Simi Malhotra and Professor Keval Arora framed their conversations not only in historical terms, but also with deliberate attention to the present socio-political climate of the country. This had the effect of forging a strong connection between audience and speakers, as we discussed the question of how to respond creatively to the unrest around us — one that has no doubt been on all our minds over the last week.

While opening the discussion by speaking of the universality of humour, Ms. Dipti Nath referenced a truth that most of us arrive at by highly intuitive means; insofar as we cannot imagine human cultural experience in the absence of humour, laughter, and implicitly, the process of critique and resistance. The assumption that appeared to underlie the presentations of each of the panellists was the following: humour is the only force capable of effectively disrupting, in Dr. Malhotra’s words, the “edifice of normativity” that hegemonic knowledge and practices acquire in a society. Cartoons, drama, prose, and even film contain examples of humorous literature generated at precarious social moments, in order to critique dominant narratives.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.