The Butt of the Joke? Laughter and Potency in the Becoming of Good Soldiers

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Abstract

In the Danish military, laughter plays a key role in the process of becoming a good soldier. Along with the strictness of hierarchy and discipline, a perhaps surprisingly widespread use of humor is essential in the social interaction, as the author observed during a participatory fieldwork among conscripted soldiers in the army. Unfolding the wider context and affective flows in this use of humor, however, the article suggests that the humorous tune (Ahmed 2014a) that is established among the soldiers concurrently has severe consequences as it not only polices soldiers’ sexuality and ‘wrong’ ways for men to be close, but also entangles in the ‘making’ of good, potent soldiers. Humor is therefore argued to be a very serious matter that can cast soldiers as either insiders or outsiders to the military profession.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural Analysis
Volume17
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)25-56
Number of pages32
ISSN1537-7873
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Military
  • Humor
  • Attunement
  • Affects
  • Military service
  • Potency
  • Sexuality

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