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Joking Through Hardship: Humor and Truth-Telling among Displaced Timbuktians

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2016


This article argues that one way in which internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees from Timbuktu, Mali, negotiated and made sense of the occupation of northern Mali in 2012 and the hardships of displacement was through joking. A genre of unofficial communication, joking asserted local truths and produced counternarratives. Sharing in this humorous reproduction helped to alleviate some of the anxieties of displacement and strengthen interpersonal relationships. The result was a communitas that reproduced the local Timbuktian community in exile.


Cet article fait valoir que, en 2012, c’est en partie grâce à la plaisanterie que les personnes déplacées en internes (PDI) et les réfugiés originaires de Tombouctou au Mali, ont géré les difficultés du déplacement et fait sens de l’occupation du nord du Mali. En tant que genre de communication officieuse, la plaisanterie a affirmé des vérités locales et produit des contre-narrations. Faire partie de cette reproduction humoristique a contribué à atténuer certaines des inquiétudes dues au déplacement et à renforcer les relations interpersonnelles. Le résultat a été une “communitas” qui a reproduit la communauté tombouctienne locale en exil.

Copyright © African Studies Association 2016 

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