This article draws on ethnographic research to analyse the role of humour in the process of collective identity formation within autonomous anti-capitalist groups in Madrid. Autonomous groups embrace the principles of horizontality, openness, diversity, participatory democracy, self-organization, and direct action, so defining themselves in contradistinction to more “vertical” movement organizations of the institutional left. The process of collective-identity formation involves both generating a sense of internal cohesion, and projecting an alternative identity. Autonomous groups in Madrid face a double challenge, for they must integrate ideologically heterogeneous activists, and they must define themselves as being alternatives to the much more consolidated groups of the institutional left. I shall analyse the different ways in which humour is used to address both those challenges: to sustain groups over time, to defuse tensions and try to resolve conflict, for myth-making, and to integrate marginal group members. I will also discuss the role humour plays in charismatic leadership and its use in the projection of an alternative political identity in direct actions. Finally, I will discuss the contested nature of humour as a political tool in the context of the Madrid network.
Flesher Fominaya, C. M. (2007). The Role of Humour in the Process of Collective Identity Formation in Autonomous Social Movement Groups in Contemporary Madrid. International Review of Social History, 52(S15), 243-258. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020859007003227