This presentation suggests that humor plays a critical role in the building of social non-movements. It will do so through an analysis of the role of humor in the Middle East and North Africa’s first mass uprising resulting in a move towards democracy: Algeria’s October 1988 Revolution. Humor-infused cultural symbols and products, many inspired by regional and global events, appear to have convinced groups across the political spectrum to mobilize and take action based on ideological affiliations and strong beliefs about the ordering of power in the country. The talk will also consider how humor reflected a wider range of emotions during October 1988 than scholars have previously examined, adding to a broader effort to re-think the significance of this pivotal moment in the history of the region.
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Elizabeth M. Perego is an historian of contemporary Algeria and its global and regional connections. She earned her Ph.D. in African, Middle Eastern and Islamic, and gender history from the Ohio State University and has authored articles that have appeared or are forthcoming in the Journal of North African Studies and the International Journal of Middle East Studies, among other publications. Her scholarship examines the intersection of politics, culture, and gender in Algeria as well as the modern Maghrib more broadly. She is completing a book project entitled, Satire, Subversion, State: Political Humor and Popular Contention in Algeria, 1930s to the Present, which explores comedy as a site of identity formation and expression of political ideas at times of heightened crisis and censorship. Presently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University's Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (Department of Near Eastern Studies), she will begin as an assistant professor of Middle Eastern and North African history at Appalachian State University in January 2021. She held a tenure-stream position at Shepherd University, West Virginia, from 2017 to 2020.