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In Memoriam: Quino (links to article in English, en Français y en Español)

Dernière mise à jour : 2 oct. 2020

Article: From Mafalda with love: three lessons from the late Quino and his immortal creation, originally published on October 1st 2020 by Links to the full article in English, French and Spanish below.

Millions of readers across the world are familiar with the dark-haired, impertinent, soup-hating, diabolically smart and terribly funny little girl named Mafalda. She was imagined by the Argentinian cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado Tejon, known to all as Quino, who passed away September 30 at age 88.

The Mafalda comics ran from 1964 to 1973 and are the most widely known of Quino’s works – they’ve been translated into multiple languages, including braille, and were also turned into an animated series. His legacy also includes numerous other black-and-white comic strips, often with no dialogue and composed of single vignettes.

Through his art, Quino engaged in pointed social critique on a wide range of topics – the state of the world, politics, cliches and prejudices, the middle-class family, social relationships, food and art – where visual and verbal humour played a central role.

Humour as a window into the soul

I personally owe much of the awakening of my political consciousness and rebelliousness to Quino’s black-and-white comic strips. While the meaning of most was obscure to me at first, progressively I found them disturbingly funny over the years, ultimately contributing to trigger my scholarly interest in the use of two powerful tools in the social sciences, drawing and humour, and in affect theories that seek to understand the deep emotional and embodied dimensions of our lives.

The word affect, from the Latin afectus, is often understood in its verb form “to affect” someone or something (actively or instrumentally) or “to be affected” (passively) by someone or something. In an ongoing project, my colleagues and I have stressed how this narrow definition considerably limits our understanding of affect in its noun form (affect, affectivity) and the even richer problematisations of its verb form. Our findings highlight three detrimental consequences.

First, it privileges a limited anthropological assumption of humans reduced to abstract labels, depersonalised interest ties and roles (such as “stakeholders” or “employees”). Second, it considerably hinders our ability to foster deeper relational ties where others are ends in themselves instead of means. Third, overall, this leads to weakened ethical engagement in the world we all share.

To counter this, humour proves a powerful tool to bring affectivity back in. It triggers emotional and embodied responses such as laughing, which becomes even more powerful when shared with others.

For instance, research has shown that shared humour fosters socialisation and integration into a group. In my own work, I’ve analysed how shared moments of humour also have the capacity to create empathy and solidarity, allowing a group threatened by violence and injustice to revolt against them.

Quino’s brilliant use of humour can teach us at least three lessons to help us reconnect with our inner affective lives and with others – a deeply needed capacity in an age of social distancing. First, that humour can trigger critical thinking. Second, that humour can foster ethical relationships to others. And third, that humour can powerfully encourage resistance to oppression.

To reuse one of his album’s titles, it is high time for some “Quinotherapy”.


Keep reading the full article in English HERE

Lee el articulo completo en Español AQUI

Lis la version Française ICI.

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