Australasian Humour Studies Network

Annual Conference

AHSN Conference Masthead


Call for Papers AHSN2023

29th Annual Conference of the Australasian Humour Studies Network

6-7, 9-10 February 2023

The University of Sydney (Abercrombie Business School)


AHSN2023 Theme: A Human Right to Humour


The 29th AHSN Conference will take place from 6-7 (Zoom, online only) and 9-10 (in-person only) February 2023.

Registration is now open for both online and in-person components.


The conference will take place in two parts, the first fully online, the second fully in-person. Conference attendees may choose to attend one or both parts (this choice will also be influenced by COVID measures and other factors at the time; different registration fees apply for different types of attendance, e.g., reduced online registration fee).

The theme of the conference is ‘A Human Right to Humour’. Historically one of the best allies to human rights, today, as some point out, humour is also put to oppressive uses. And it has come under fire for that. Arguments revolve around the need to protect marginalised and vulnerable groups. But as demands for censorship and cancellations spread with the lighting speed of viral tweets and online shares, likes, and public outrage, it is worth noting older questions about the intersection of humour and human rights:

· Can humour be harmful?

· Does humour have a legitimate place in human rights? What is that place?

· In the face of evil and atrocities as seen the world over, can we ever laugh – or articulate a response other than shock, horror, trauma, and condemnation or outrage?

· Where does, at a strictly human rights level, humour – perhaps even the most unsavoury joke – deserve protection, for it can be helpful to foster critical thinking?

· How do we bring together humour and human rights at a time when the suppression of humour and human rights is on the rise?

· And what do we make of the feeling of being offended, feeling belittled, hurt, or dehumanised, because of humour?


Humour can, and has, aided in the advancement of human rights. Irony, satire, and parody and wit can be instruments of transgression for the powerless to rise up. These devices of humour question social norms, denounce hubris, and shame the oppressors and the ones in power. Whether used by Brecht or Frederick Douglass, it is often artists who use humour to show us the grotesque nature of human rights violations. Caricatures have been made of Stalin and Hitler, challenging their unquestioned authority.

Of course, this is not all. Where else can humour, laughter, joking, and the funny be found and what other roles can they play in debates about human rights and humour as a vital human right?

Panel conveners are searching for authors interested in these broader questions. Papers should, ideally, explore the topic of Humour as a Human Right, including but not limited to different and highly relevant humorous styles, including comedy, satire, irony, as well as humour’s various shapes and forms, including literature, theatre, performance, dance, stand-up comedy, digital humour, etc. in different regional, national, and linguistic and cultural contexts. The impact of humour and the human right to use it on both humourists and their audiences is also a welcome theme. The panel convenors welcome and encourage interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary papers from disciplines engaging in human rights and humour as a human right.


Important Dates:

Submission portal opens 27 May

Submission portal closes 15 July

The call for papers is now closed. Submission link.


Proposal guidelines:

Proposals should be about 300 words in length. Please add a presentation title above the abstract. Reviewers will check & review all submissions according to certain criteria and may recommend changes & revisions to presenters. All accepted conference abstracts will be published on the AHSN website and the booklet of abstracts leading up to the AHSN 2023 conference. Please see below for more writing guidelines:

1. Is the question or issue clearly stated in the abstract?

2. Is the significance of the work clearly stated in the abstract? Is relevant previous work appropriately cited in the abstract?

3. Are relevant references added in a REFERENCES section underneath the abstract? Please note: submissions should aim for a maximum of 5 reference sources.

4. If relevant, are the method, data (collection), and analysis procedures well-designed and appropriate to the question addressed in the abstract?

5. Is the conceptual framework coherent? If relevant, is the theoretical analysis seemingly sound?

6. Is the proposed work original?

7. Are the conclusions justified in relation to the data and/or analyses?

8. Is the paper timely in terms of current issues of interest in the field of humour and/or associated areas?

9. Is the paper likely to be of interest to a reasonable number of attendees at AHSN2023 and to the conference theme?


In case you are not very familiar with the conference abstract genre, there are some general formulas for creating a conference abstract. Here the main points that you need to include:

topic + title + motivation + problem statement + approach + results + conclusions = conference abstract For all enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us at: conferenceahsn@gmail.com 


AHSN2023 Committee

Ben Nickl, The University of Sydney, Convenor

Rodney Taveira, The University of Sydney

Mark Rolfe, UNSW

Reza Arab, Griffith University


Review Procedures for AHSN Conference Proposals

Abstract submissions

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