New European tricksters: Polish jokes in the context of European Union labour migration

Simon Weaver, Piotr Ozieranski

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Abstract

In the context of contemporary European labour migration, where the most publicised pattern of labour migration sees Eastern European migrants move West, the dominant scholarly interpretation of Polish jokes is not applicable for the analysis of much of the joking by or about the Poles. Humour scholars frequently categorise jokes about ethnic groups into stupid or canny categories, and the Poles have been the butt of stupidity (‘Polack’) jokes in Europe and the United States. Today, in the European Union, Polish stupidity stereotyping in humour is less active and the Polish immigrant is hard working and a threat to indigenous labour, yet joking does not depict this threat in a canny Pole. The article applies the liminal concept of the trickster – an ambiguous border crosser or traveller – to elaborate some of the characteristics of jokes told by and about Polish migrants in the EU, mainly in the British context. A more robust explanatory framework is thus offered than is currently available in humour studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-591
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume19
Issue number5
Early online date28 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

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