Drawing lines

Freedom of humor and satire is an essential component of democratic life; but at the same time, some forms of humor can be a vehicle for hateful or anti-democratic messages. How can we draw a line between free speech and hate speech, when it comes to humor? Answering these questions is particularly difficult in the case of highly condensed (and often ambiguous) forms of visual humor, such as cartoons or memes.

On 21 September 2020, the members of the Constructive Advanced Thinking team Cartoons in Court presented the project they will be working on during the next three years at four European Institutes for Advanced Study. The project focuses on visual humor controversies from an interdisciplinary perspective, with special but not exclusive regard to cartoons. The event featured a general introduction and five short presentations by the team members, followed by an open Q&A.

Speakers: Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen, PI); Vicky Breemen (Utrecht University); Andrew Bricker (Ghent University); Ana Pedrazzini (ECyC IPEHCS CONICET – Comahue National University); Tjeerd Royaards (Cartoon Movement).

Host: Andrey Demidov (scientific coordinator of IAS CEU Budapest)

The project is supported by the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) program, an initiative by the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study (NetIAS). IAS CEU is a host institution for the 'Cartoons in Court' team. The online event was co-sponsored by Cartoon Movement.


New cartoonist: Musa GUMUS

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Musa Gumus is a cartoonist and illustrator from Turkey. He started drawing cartoons when he was a high school student. His first cartoon was published in 1979 and since 1987 he works as a professional cartoonist for various magazines. He also also taught cartoons and illustration for 18 years at the MEF International School in Istanbul.


Vigilantes: security or insecurity?

This comic was produced for the Centre of Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). It was supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Economic Social and Research Council (ESRC).

The story focuses on a fictional town in Uganda, but is based on real events; what happens when a town tries to fight crime using vigilantes?

The narrative is based on research by Rebecca Tapscott. The artwork is by Kenyan cartoonist and comic artist Victor Ndula.

This summer we relaunched our website; the new comics journalism section is currently being developed and will be online later this fall. That's why we are publishing this comic on our blog first. Read the comic below or download the PDF version here.

This comic is part of a series of six comics on public authority in different countries in Africa.


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Courage in Cartooning Award 2020

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Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) presents their annual Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award to Ahmed Kabir Kishore from Bangladesh.

Ahmed is a cartoonist and activist known to CRNI for over a decade. He campaigned bravely on behalf of the disappeared Sri Lankan cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda (2010) and jailed Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman (2007) and identified as a CRNI “affiliate leader” in the country, although doing so inevitably led to accusations of aligning with foreign interests. This speaks to his courage, as do his public demonstrations for the human rights not only of cartoonists but also Hijra people and in defence of health and consumer rights and the Bengali language.

Through April and into May of this year Ahmed posted to Facebook a series of cartoons he entitled Life in the Time of Corona, satirising society’s response and critical of the government’s handling of public health during the pandemic.

On May 5th 2020 Ahmed was among several people arrested under the Digital Security Act, 2018 (DSA) by personnel from the Dhaka division of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB-3), the unit officially deployed against terrorists, drug lords and human traffickers but often accused of being an instrument of government suppression. In the ensuing months of detention Ahmed has been denied a bail hearing on three occasions.

Read more on the website of CRNI.