POLITICS OF JOKING: ETHNIC JOKES AND THEIR TARGETS IN ESTONIA (1890s–2007)

Abstract

The article will describe the transformation of cultural heritage, focusing on ethnic jokes. Starting with the jokes from the 1890s, which were collected by Estonian folklorist Matthias Johann Eisen (1857–1934) during the country-wide folklore collection campaigns tied to the idea of national revival and ending with the most recent jokes shared on the Internet, the article will give an overview of how a political system interacts with the universal rules of target choice (as described in Davies 1990, 2002 and elsewhere) in Estonian ethnic jokes. The analysis is cast into three subsections: First, it will give a brief overview of the old folk jokes that do not correspond to contemporary requirements for a joke that will “work”, secondly, the similarity of joke tales and contemporary jokes from the 1960s until present day is examined, and finally the new and re-discovered old targets are analysed. The article will also consider the structural change of the genre, pointing at the universal stupidity joke cycle (for example, light-bulb jokes based on ethnicity) as the most suitable in the current globalising world and media.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Laineste2008POLITICSOJ, title={POLITICS OF JOKING: ETHNIC JOKES AND THEIR TARGETS IN ESTONIA (1890s–2007)}, author={Liisi Laineste}, year={2008} }