Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change

Abstract

This research focuses on comedy in Jordan, and whether it plays a role in the larger fight against extremist ideals in the region. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of how comedy is used in Jordan for a purpose other than merely making people laugh. Through this research, I study whether Jordanians believe that comedy has a role in combating extremism and if so, whether it is systematically employed for this specific purpose. The hypothesis of this study states that most Jordanians believe that comedy is a powerful weapon in the fight against extremism and as such, comedy has naturally experienced a change in its topics of focus. This research draws mostly on primary sources including interviews with comedians and government officials, surveys, material culture including past comedy performances, comedy shows, caricatures, etc., and prior research done on the topic. The war on terror cannot be won if it is solely fought on the battlefield. For this reason, studying this topic is of high importance because understanding other, non-conventional, methods of combating extremism will bring us that much closer to victory. The data of this research shows that most Jordanians, including comedians and government officials in fact believe that comedy serves as a powerful weapon to combat extremism. However, the data also shows that comedy is not systematically employed as an anti-terror tool neither from a government initiative, nor from comedian-led initiative. According to the data, this is due to reasons: the first is that the Jordanian government does not allocate appropriate funding and support to the comedy sector. Second, comedy in Jordan largely focuses on topics of government corruption and abuse of power. As it is the case that most Jordanians believe that comedy is a powerful tool which can help in the fight against extremism, it is important to find ways to support comedy and use it for the purpose of combating extremism.

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Political Science | Social Influence and Political Communication