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In the Soviet Union official humor was a propaganda tool for instituting communist ideology and governing society. In Soviet Lithuania, paradoxically, while official humor institutions involved people in co-governance through the intimacy of laughter, they also created critical publics who shared dystopian visions of Soviet modernity via authoritarian state sponsored venues. This critical publics was mobilized in anti-Soviet revolutionary laughter in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In Soviet times, during the collapse of the USSR, or recently the war in Ukraine, humor has served as a medium of political participation and emancipation for a national cause.


Neringa Klumbyte is Professor of Anthropology and Russian and Post-Soviet Studies and Director of the Lithuania Program at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University. She is the author of Authoritarian Laughter: Political Humor and Soviet Dystopia in Lithuania (Cornell UP, 2022), the winner of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Women’s Forum prize; a co-author of Social and Historical Justice in Multiethnic Lithuania (2018), and co-editor of Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism, 196485 (2012, with Gulnaz Sharafutdinova).

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Bush House South East Wing
Strand, London WC2R 1AE