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Non-Violent Resistance

Irreverence in Irish Culture


Edited By Agnès Maillot, Jennifer Bruen and Jean-Philippe Imbert

Humour, by its very nature controversial, plays an important role in social interaction. With its power to question assumptions, it can be used a weapon of subversion, and its meaning and interpretation are embedded within the culture that generates them in complex ways. The scrutiny of Irish culture through the lens of humour is highly revealing, contributing to an alternative, and sometimes irreverent, reading of events. As John Updike wrote of Raymond Queneau’s witty re-imagining of the Easter Rising, humour can effectively expose «casual ambivalence».

This volume investigates the many ways in which writers, playwrights, politicians, historians, filmmakers, artists and activists have used irreverence and humour to look at aspects of Irish culture and explore the contradictions and shortcomings of the society in which they live.

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1 From Belfast to Jerusalem via Rio de Janeiro: Imaginary Geographies and Anti-Imperialism in Carlos Latuff ’s Political Cartoons (Marie-Violaine Louvet)


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1 From Belfast to Jerusalem Via Rio de Janeiro: Imaginary Geographies and Anti-Imperialism in Carlos Latuff’s Political Cartoons

Drawing an irreverent political cartoon, that is to say a cartoon which ridicules an entity claiming some kind of respectability usually connected with a symbolic representation of power is, by nature, a subversive act. It is a way to undermine what Max Weber refers to as leaders’ ‘charismatic authority’1 which arouses acceptance and devotion in the people. As soon as a political cartoon is published, the cartoonist has a responsibility because of the impact he may have on the public mind – Bourdieu underlines the fact that within the political field, politicians are vulnerable to scandals because their political capital is in fact their reputation.2 More than that, the cartoonist has accomplished a political action because irreverence is a type of subversion which goes hand in hand with a destabilization of the current order of things, what Crozier and Friedberg designate as ‘a process of change which implies action and reactions, negotiations and cooperation’.3 By challenging the provisional state of the world, the political cartoonist aims at provoking a response and exposes himself to retaliation by the target of the cartoon. The notion of risk is always present on the ← 13 | 14 → mind of committed political cartoonists who select powerful targets with a susceptibility to strike back.

Carlos Latuff, a contemporary Brazilian political cartoonist, is not easily dissuaded as shown by the...

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