Jovan Kurbalija   09 Jan 2012   Diplo Blog

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‘Cartoons and jokes are very useful as a teaching tool. Students love it when you present them with something amusing that also illustrates a main point in the lecture’,  said Stan Dubinsky from the University of South Carolina, summarising his experience of teaching difficult-to-grasp linguistic concepts through jokes and cartoons.

Why we do not teach diplomacy through cartoons and jokes? Diplomacy is full of paradoxes and situations where the unexpected (which is core of good humour) can emerge. Diplomacy is also intercultural, and often leads to comic (sometimes tragic-comic) situations.

Here are a few building blocks for a future curriculum ‘Diplomacy through jokes’.

Father Peter Seraccino Inglott introduced the concept of serious jokes in diplomacy. He argued that jokes could be effectively used in difficult diplomatic negotiations in order to open new possibilities and overcome stalemates.

Aldo Matteucci discusses Laughter and Diplomacy.

Diplo has a long tradition of illustrating complex policy issues (Internet governance, climate change) through cartoons and comic books.

Here are some ingredients. Please add more and suggest next steps (including a good diplomatic jokes).


  • Mary Murphy (not verified), 08/04/2021 - 14:26

    J. Michael Waller, in his paper Ridicule: An Instrument in the War on Terrorism (…) reckons that humor can be an important public diplomacy tool when used as a means of persuasion. He quotes the great John Cleese: 'If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge the truth.'

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    Jovan Kurbalija, 08/04/2021 - 14:26

    The less freedom, the more humor. For example, Belgrade used to have a great humor during Milosevic time. Humor is safe valve for society under pressure. Last week I was in Belgrade. The city is not as witty as it was during Milosevic time. Finally, it is getting boring!

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