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GISC Event. Muslims in Comics: Superheroes & Scapegoats

Multiple Speakers
Friday, October 23, 2020
2:00-4:00 PM
Off Campus Location
Friday, October 23, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Zoom Webinar Link:

Panelists will include: Esra Mirze Santesso, Chris Gavaler, Aliyah Khan, & Karla Mallette. The event will be moderated by Sena Duran

This event is free and open to the public but please RSVP: Zoom Webinar Link:

2:00 PM: Esra Mirze Santesso - Human Rights, Narratives of War in Iran and Kashmir

2:15 PM: Karla Mallette - Resistance of Muslims in Comics

2:30 PM: Aliyah Khan - Orientalist Representations of Muslim Female Superheroes

2:45 PM: Chris Gavaler - Islamic History of 20th Century Superhero

3:00 PM: Talkback

3:30 PM: Q&A

From dissidents to villains to superheroes, how are Muslim characters written--and how does the public read them--in comic books today? This workshop explores the roles open to Muslim characters in serialized comics and graphic novels. The medium of serialized comics, commercialized in the twentieth century by mainstream comics publishers such as Marvel and DC, and epitomized by their respective superhero universes, has long been associated with a lack of racial and religious diversity, the sexualization of female characters, and a reader base that is stereotypically young, male, and white. Minority characters were often limited to tokenized villains or sidekicks designed for comic relief. But the contemporary young Muslim female superhero Ms. Marvel symbolizes a comics landscape that is changing. In the contexts of the Gulf Wars, 9/11, the Arab Spring, the Palestinian conflict, ongoing civil unrest in the Middle East, and worldwide refugee migrant crises, writers and artists from the Muslim and Arab worlds, and others writing journalistically and historically about those locales, are at the forefront of graphic medium literary production.

Graphic novels and comics by and about Muslims and Arabs comprise a growing and distinctive narrative strain within comics studies—one that this event of comics and Muslim and Arab Studies artists and scholars seeks to investigate.

Chris Gavaler (On the Origin of Superheroes: From the Big Bang to Action Comics No. 1, 2015) explores the Islamicist history of the 20th-century superhero.

Esra Mirze Santesso (Disorientation: Muslim Identity in Contemporary Anglophone Literature, 2013) discusses human rights discourse in narratives of war and dissidence in Iran and Kashmir.

Karla Mallette (European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean, 2010) reports on resistance to Muslim and other minority identity politics from some comics readers.

Aliyah Khan (Far from Mecca: Globalizing the Muslim Caribbean, 2020) examines orientalist representations of Muslim female superheroes.

Sena Duran is a third-year PhD student in the department of American Culture. Her research approaches representations of Muslims in U.S. visual media through Feminist and Genre Studies frameworks, with specific attention to the use of monstrosity and eroticism in narratives of U.S. nationalism, empire, and racial subjugation.

The presenters bring postcolonial, decolonial, comics studies, and historicizing methodologies to bear on understanding commonalities and differences among Islamic, Muslim, and Arab graphic narratives, reading them as transnational works that, as many of their subjects do, cross borders and resist authoritarian states.

Cosponsored by: The Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, The Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum, Middle East Studies, and Arab and Muslim American Studies
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: cmenas, Discussion, islamic studies, Lecture, Muslim, Virtual
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Global Islamic Studies Center, Department of Middle East Studies, International Institute, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Arab and Muslim American Studies (AMAS)

The Global Islamic Studies Center organizes a number of public events each year such as lectures, conferences, and films, many in collaboration with other U-M units. Please use our searchable events calendar for information about upcoming programs sponsored by GISC and the Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar (IISS).