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The Secrets of Communist Laughter: Political Aesthetics and the Covert Sphere in the Soviet Lithuanian Humor Journal “Broom”

In 1956 the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party resurrected The Broom, the Soviet Lithuanian humor and satire journal. Like other Soviet humor journals it was a platform for building communism and fighting its enemies. But soon it became a cradle of a new covert national culture defined by modernist aesthetics and political opposition. The talk will explore how this covert sphere emerged in The Broom and prevailed despite the KGB, the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee, and GLAVLIT, the main censorship office, control. I will argue that laughing at socialist governance and everyday life, the editors, contributors, and readers experimented with socialist criticism and transgressed boundaries of legal opposition; they created covert political aesthetics grounded in utopias of anti­Soviet sovereignty.
Neringa Klumbytė is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Associate Faculty at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University, Ohio. Her research has focused on political regimes and ideologies, social and political change, sovereignty, nationalism, and ethnicity, and memory and sovereignty in Soviet and post­Soviet Lithuania. Her articles have appeared inAmerican Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Slavic Review, East European Politics and Societies, and other journals. She is a coeditor of Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism, 1964­85 (with Gulnaz Sharafutdinova), 2012.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016. 05:30 PM


Reuben Hills Conference Room (second floor), Encina Hall East, 616 Serra Street


Stanford University Libraries, CREEES Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies




Open to the public
RSVP requested.