Dangerous Jokes and the Power of Tolerance

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A fieldwork study of Duke University aims to show how identity functions in an environment whose ideal is perfect tolerance and the experience of students who want to practice their religion as a college student, touching on issues of gender and sexuality as well. College students and their use of humor are analyzed to reflect on how tolerance can create tension between groups, and how people deal with these tensions through their jokes. American colleges utilize a policy of tolerance in order to decrease tension between different groups which are reflected in the jokes that students make, whereas in Turkey similar tensions are the subject of current public and legal discussions. A discussion of the definition and attitudes about tolerance in Turkey and the United States reflects on how the different societies have come to accept different definitions of tolerance. The citizens of modern nation states are expected to be liberal subjects who make rational decisions, free from the effects of things like religion. However, this expectation is not always true. Tolerance is one of the ways used to deal with this contradiction, but instead of promoting understanding, it can perpetuate a cycle where communities of people grow more distant from each other. Tolerance is a policy existent around the world, and religious tolerance has become an important part of modern, national identity, as it is expected that citizens will have rational, free choice, not acted on by religion. Colleges aim to create a certain type of citizen that will be a model of what a modern, liberal subject should be.


Honors thesis, Senior Distinction Seminar




Kuscu, Bengisu (2011). Dangerous Jokes and the Power of Tolerance. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/3611.

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