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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 30, 2016

The humor of Skopje 2014: Between effects and evaluations

  • Aleksandar Takovski

    Aleskandar Takovski teaches whatever life brings him to teach at SEE University in the Republic of Macedonia, from basic skills English, ESP and Academic writing to linguistics, poetry and genre fiction. His research interests include, but are not limited to: political and ethnic humor, critical discourse analysis of political and nationalist discourses, semiotics of space, multimodality.

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From the journal HUMOR

Abstract

In 2010, the Macedonian government commissioned a controversial urban project titled Skopje 2014, designed to aesthetically revamp the look of the capital’s center. The announcement gave rise to conflicting views, both supportive and critical of the idea. Part of the criticism leveled at the project was expressed through on-line humor which produced no major sociopolitical effect, public debate or counter-humor production. Yet its production and reception may be taken as emblematic of the societal tensions underlying the contradiction between its effects and its evaluations.

By outlining the political context of the humor’s emergence, analyzing the examples produced, and voicing humor creators’ and citizens’ understanding of its political role, the study reflects upon humor’s specifics and limitations in order to argue that the humor produced and its understanding reflect the political impulses, tensions, and ambiguities of a hybrid society such as Macedonia. Using input from the discussions on the role of humor across political systems, and especially relying on studies of political on-line humor in democracies and audience research, the study intends to determine the political effect of the humor produced so as to argue that faced with many challenges, the humor failed to become a democratic means of political engagement, remaining largely a tool for the expression of personal dissatisfaction. Nonetheless, there is an existing paradox in the face of citizens’ beliefs in the potential of this humor. This study tries to explain this paradox.

About the author

Aleksandar Takovski

Aleskandar Takovski teaches whatever life brings him to teach at SEE University in the Republic of Macedonia, from basic skills English, ESP and Academic writing to linguistics, poetry and genre fiction. His research interests include, but are not limited to: political and ethnic humor, critical discourse analysis of political and nationalist discourses, semiotics of space, multimodality.

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Appendix 1. (Questionnaire)

  1. Gender: male/female

  2. Age: 18–22, 22–30, 31–50, 51–60, 61+

  3. Education: elementary, high school, faculty, postgraduate

  4. Ethnicity: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Roma, Serb, other

  5. Do you think we live in: a) democratic b) partly-democratic c) authoritarian d) totalitarian society

  6. Do you believe that the political circumstances in our society allow criticism, open political confrontation and free expression of opinion?(yes/no)

  7. What do you think about the serious criticism addressed to the Government?

    1. There is no reason to criticize the Government

    2. There is no point in criticizing the Government

    3. Such criticism is dangerous

    4. Other

  8. To what extent do you support the project Skopje 2014?

    1. Fully

    2. Partially

    3. Not at all

  9. Have you ever seen on-line humor criticizing the project? (yes/no)

  10. What according to you is the purpose of this humor?

    1. To criticize the government and the project

    2. To entertain the audience

    3. To make us think and act

    4. To express citizens’ lack of power

    5. Other

  11. Does this humor have a clear political message?

    1. Yes

    2. No

    3. Some of it

  12. According to you, what is the role of humor in society and its politics?

  13. Do you believe that criticism in form of humor is an efficient means of socio-political change (change of public opinion, re-examining attitudes, confronting harmful policies, motivating activism)?

    1. a) Yes b) no

  14. Please elaborate the answer to the previous question

Did Skopje2014 humor brought any of those changes? (yes/no)

Published Online: 2016-7-30
Published in Print: 2016-8-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

Downloaded on 1.3.2024 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/humor-2016-0022/html
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