Speaking through Humour: Exploring New Approaches to Gender-Based Violence in Sierra Leone
Laura Martin (University of Birmingham)
Paper short abstract:
This paper looks at how humour can be utilised for transformative outreach and welfare in relation to gender-based violence issues in Sierra Leone. This paper draws from research exploring whether employing humour can lead to in-depth discussions related to gender-based violence in rural areas.
Paper long abstract:
This paper looks at how humour can be utilised for transformative outreach and welfare in relation to gender-based violence (GBV) issues in Sierra Leone. Humour is often understood as a spin-off of other research, or not serious enough to study. However, humour is universal. It is a means of making the unsaid more explicit, acting as a liminal narrative space that can overcome existing hierarchies (gendered and otherwise), allowing for sensitive issues (such as gender-based violence) to be discussed more openly. While humour has been explored across a wide range of academic disciplines, it has not been fully explored as a tangible approach to community outreach in development-related activities. In Sierra Leone, humour has proven to be a culturally relevant means of engaging sensitive subject matter (such as during the Ebola outbreak) because it seemingly allows for topics to be discussed more openly than lecturing-style outreach activities. Working alongside an access to justice organization, this paper will analyse research conducted in rural Sierra Leone that examines whether employing humour can lead to more open, in-depth discussions about gender-based violence. I explore how the use of humour can help re-frame narratives that allows for sensitive subject matter to be discussed, and whether this approach to community outreach is transferrable across different issues and societies.
Limits and prospects of African humour