Strategic Humor and Post-Truth Public Diplomacy

In the latest issue of CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, Dmitry Chernobrov, associate professor in media and international politics at the University of Sheffield, explores how states and proxy actors use humor as part of their public diplomacy.

"Strategic Humor and Post-Truth Public Diplomacy" offers insight into how strategic humor is used as a public diplomacy tool to advance state interests, deflect criticism, legitimate policy, and challenge the narratives of others. Chernobrov first overviews the concept of strategic humor—the use of humor by state and proxy actors to promote narratives that advance state interests through wider outreach and/or persuasion. Second, he argues that the rapid increase in the use of humorous content to explain foreign policy issues to publics stimulates the emergence of a posttruth public diplomacy, reliant on outreach and popularity mechanisms, fictitious representations, emotive messaging, and exploitation of uncertainty. The paper reviews several cases of how Russia uses humor strategically in public diplomacy and external broadcasting to reject accusations of propaganda and interference and mock western sanctions. Additionally, Chernobrov questions the persuasive potential and limitations of strategic humor. 

Download the full text here