The violence of humour and ridicule in typewriter and tweet diplomacy

Diplomacy used to be characterized by formalized interactions and a high level of protocol to limit occasions where parties could feel ridiculed or humiliated. In modern times, however, diplomacy is not restricted to professional actors, but it is increasingly performed and addressed at the public, offering space for humorous and ridiculous interventions – both intentional and unintended ones.

In this talk Professor Kopper will discuss the use of humour and ridicule in such interactions by focusing on three case studies: one from the early 20th century, when Wilson’s reluctance to join the war against Germany was heavily criticized and ridiculed in newspaper articles and particularly cartoons; the second is the recent Skripal affair, when the Russian Embassy along a formal complaint also published ironic tweets to respond to the expelling of Russian diplomats from Britain; and finally, the third one is a ridiculous exchange of comments (including tweets) between the chargé d’affair of the US and high ranking Hungarian functionaries a few years ago. He will argue that although predominantly ridicule tends to be aggressive and alienating – in fact deeply undermining the recognition of the other – at times it can play an emancipating role and express a call for improving relations.

Akos KOPPER is Head of Department of International Relations and European Studies at ELTE University, Budapest. He received his PhD from Jacobs University Bremen (2009) and MA from CEU.

His main research interests are citizenship, security, diplomacy and the IR of East Asia. With his colleagues he is co-editor of the Journal of International Relations and Development, the official journal of the Central and East European International Studies Association (CEEISA). He is also a member of CEEISA’s executive board.

His works appeared among others in journals such as: European Journal of International Relations, Democratization, International Studies Review, The Pacific Review, East European Politics and International Political Sociology.