The ability of offensive jokes to undermine intolerance is the subject of a study by a University of Kent anthropologist.
In a paper published by the journal History and Anthropology, Dr Andrew Sanchez, Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University's School of Anthropology and Conservation, explains how exchanges of offensive humour enable people to distance themselves from the values that inform religious and ethnic violence.
Based on research in a multi-ethnic workplace in India, the study shows how joking relationships between colleagues make an apparently offensive commentary on the public life of ethnic difference. Dr Sanchez looks at the unspoken political content of this humour, to show why such jokes do not always cause offence.
The paper shows that the exchange of humorous insults implicitly critiques religious and ethnic violence, by suggesting that one's personal relations are not governed by the principles of offence and retaliation.
While communal politics never forgives insult and never forgets the past, Dr Sanchez argues that offensive joking operates on more tolerant principles rooted in the present.
'Profane Relations: The Irony of Offensive Jokes in India' (Andrew Sanchez, University of Kent) is available at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02757206.2016.1147439
For further information or interview requests contact Sandy Fleming at the University of Kent Press Office.
Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879
Notes to editors
Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked: third for overall student satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey; 16th in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.
Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.
In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.
History and Anthropology