In both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, many of the choices that young Muslim women make are regarded as contentious. Into this highly charged identity politics, enters ‘superhero’ Kamala Khan. Created in 2013 for Marvel Comics, Kamala is a 16-year-old Muslim Pakistani–American girl living in New Jersey.
Ms Marvel’s 2014 UK release prompted a string of articles and opinion pieces by BBC, The Guardian and The Independent, among others.
This project explores the ability of comics to act as catalysts for social change. It contributes to research by addressing two key questions: (1) what, if any, effect do comics have on the public perception of identity? and (2) does the same comic affect public perceptions of identity differently in different social contexts?
To answer these questions, the project compares the reception of Ms Marvel in non-Muslim majority (UK) and Muslim majority (Lebanon) societies. More specifically, what (if any) effect has Ms Marvel had on prevailing attitudes towards the socially accepted role and status of young Muslim women? And does the effect differ between the two contexts? Primarily, the project integrates the discursive practices of comics into the broader theorisation of identity construction. If the study finds that Ms Marvel can have a positive effect on attitudes towards young Muslim women, then it will also contribute to current debates on ‘desecuritisation’ and the ‘clash of civilisations’.
This project forms part of the Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme, funded by the Emirates Foundation.
Jennifer Jackson-Preece | Principal Investigator
Jennifer is Associate Professor in Nationalism in Europe at LSE. Since the 1990s, she has had a sustained engagement with problems and practices of minorities and migrants.
Badreya Al-Jenaibi | Co-Principal Investigator
Badreya is Professor in Mass Communication at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). Her research interests include the uses and effects of mass media and new media.
Manmit Bhambra | Co-Investigator
Manmit is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at LSE and and a Fellow on the Generation Brexit project based in the European Institute. Her research interests are centred around identity politics and formation, ethnic and national identities as well as the broader themes of Race, Inclusion and Minority rights.