KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Research areas

Project Migration and Humour. Social Functions and Conversational Potential of Humour and Satire in the Interethnic Relationships in Germany

Principal investigator: Dr. Halyna Leontiy

Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Duration: 10/2012 - 10/2015

The research project analyses the relationship between native and migrant population in Germany from a different angle: Namely, the social functions of humour and satire are studied on the basis of Russian-Germans („Spätaussiedler“) and Turks in Germany as well as people of Turkish decent in Germany (Deutsch-Türken). Humour and satire are socially-, culturally- and contextually dependent phenomena, embedded in everyday life. They enable the actors not only to form in- and out-groups but also to shift their perspectives voluntarily and revise their own body of knowledge. Therefore, humour and satire are particularly suitable to study inter- and intra-ethnic relationships.

The goal of the project is to find out, how and with the help of which different comic genres communication between migrants and natives (as well as between migrants themselves) is being established and what kind of effects and reactions it causes. Furthermore, the research project focuses on the role of humour and satire by asking how migrants cope with their (often conflictual) experience of migration and how they deal with their identity-conflicts in this context. Equally important is to find out under which circumstances and due to what reason humour is absent within these interactions.

The research is embedded within the area of the sociology of culture, sociology of language and communication as well as sociolinguistics. It applies a specially designed combination of ethnographic methods (participant observation, ethnographic interviews, videography) and hermeneutics. The research will be carried out on two levels:

1. Level of the institutionalised humour and satire (Ethno-Kabarett/-Comedy ).
2. Level of the conversational humour in everyday life.

The sample includes the selection of six different migrant groups in two different regions of Germany