Toknang, “Humor that Bites” Understanding the Subculture of Young Farmers

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Ruth S. Batani


This study examines toknang a locally shared expression of humor among young farmers. Treated as a folk performance that happens during drinking sessions, it has become an alternative way of “expressing the self” and for everyday sensing. There are, however, complex interactions and conditions that happen during the verbal exchange that it becomes a “biting humor,” creating a scenario where masculinity becomes the object of identity constructions. Using key informant interviews and focus group discussions, the study aimed to sketch the norms on alcohol drinking and understand the locally marked sense of humor called toknang among young farmers.

Findings showed that alcohol drinking almost always comes with exchange of sense of humor which, generally speaking, forms part of the socialization of young farmers. However, gin drinking can actually lead to other strings of events including masculine show-offs animated in the play of toknang. While this forms part of socialization in a farming community like Pawil, there are differing views held by men and women on toknang.  The view that negates toknang as subculture of the young is where the recommendation of regulating ‘gin’ drinking, as one precipitating cause of staging ‘humor that bites’ becomes compelling.

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