Teasing people into health? Sami cartoons, Indigenous humour, and provocative therapy


  • Juliane Egerer Augsburg University



Sami, First Nations, Indigenous literature, decolonization, cartoons, humour, reconciliation, provocative therapy, comparative Indigenous literary studies


Maren Uthaug's razor-sharp and self-deprecating cartoons reflect Sami people in a seemingly offensive way, addressing sensitive Indigenous issues such as cultural disorientation, racism, suicide, and addiction in an outspoken way. However, it was Sami people – Uthaug's relatives – who asked for and successfully published these cartoons. Why do Sami people request cartoons like these? Outlining some relevant aspects of highly divergent Western Comics Studies, the analysis and interpretation of selected cartoons is an opportunity to compare Uthaug's provocative strategies to the functions of humour in First Nations literature. Accordingly, the paper focuses on Indigenous humour as a means of emotional and social healing in the processes of decolonization and reconciliation and, additionally, adopts Frank Farrelly's concept of provocative therapy which is defined as a way of teasing people into health. Relying on Native American Terry Tafoya's (Taos Pueblo) description of Farrelly as a kind of medicine man, the paper asks whether also Uthaug acts as a cartoon-drawing Chiffoneti, a blend of priest, healer, and trickster regarding Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers.