Presenter Information

Lindsey M. Hanlon, Boston College

Location

Panel 13: Kearney 325

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

In my paper entitled “Picturing the Enemy: The Construction of the Islamic Other in Post-9/11 Comic Anthologies,” I argue that the philanthropic comic collections created shortly after the September 11th attacks provide an ideal opportunity to explore the cultural constructions of the Islamic Other in the post-9/11 period. In this paper, I will examine three comic anthologies released shortly after 9/11: 9-11: Artists Respond published by DC Comics’ subsidiary Dark Horse Comics, 9-11: September 11th 2001 published by DC Comics, and 9-11: Emergency Relief published by Alternative Comics. These comic collections represent an urge to create and commemorate while the effects of the event were still fresh, and they predominantly portray the Islamic Other in three fashions: as a stereotypical figure adopted into a message of patriotism or multiculturalism, as a victim of continuing racism, or as a symbol of evil.

The comics that represent misguided attempts at inclusion via simplistic representations of a “good” Islamic Other instead foster cultural misunderstanding, as they depend on the utilization of Islamophobic stereotypes regarding the dress and behavior of Muslim individuals. In more successful positive representations, comics that remind readers of preexisting racism and Islamophobia in America emphasize the artificial nature of emotion-laden racial definitions and attempt to deconstruct the conflation of individuals from various racial and religious categories into a single Islamic Other. However, the comics that negatively represent the Islamic Other operate through dehumanization and repeated comparisons to other culturally accepted figures of evil, and in this way are able to create a definite enemy on whom all of the misfortunes of 9/11 can be blamed.

Ultimately, I argue that these four comic anthologies represent a snapshot of American culture in transition as it attempts to come to grips with a traumatic and destabilizing event while simultaneously paving the way for an increasingly militaristic future. The comics often present a very shallow understanding of the Islamic Other, one that is rife with stereotypes and conjecture, and rely on a cultural Islamophobia shared by both creators and readers. The comics that avoid these misunderstandings only emphasize the extent to which Islamophobia pervades our culture. In these comic anthologies, we see a reflection of an American culture all too willing to believe the worst of the Islamic Other, and willing to assume the roles of both victim and aggressor in order to pursue its ideological goals.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

Picturing the Enemy: The Construction of the Islamic Other in Post 9/11 Comic Anthologies

Panel 13: Kearney 325

In my paper entitled “Picturing the Enemy: The Construction of the Islamic Other in Post-9/11 Comic Anthologies,” I argue that the philanthropic comic collections created shortly after the September 11th attacks provide an ideal opportunity to explore the cultural constructions of the Islamic Other in the post-9/11 period. In this paper, I will examine three comic anthologies released shortly after 9/11: 9-11: Artists Respond published by DC Comics’ subsidiary Dark Horse Comics, 9-11: September 11th 2001 published by DC Comics, and 9-11: Emergency Relief published by Alternative Comics. These comic collections represent an urge to create and commemorate while the effects of the event were still fresh, and they predominantly portray the Islamic Other in three fashions: as a stereotypical figure adopted into a message of patriotism or multiculturalism, as a victim of continuing racism, or as a symbol of evil.

The comics that represent misguided attempts at inclusion via simplistic representations of a “good” Islamic Other instead foster cultural misunderstanding, as they depend on the utilization of Islamophobic stereotypes regarding the dress and behavior of Muslim individuals. In more successful positive representations, comics that remind readers of preexisting racism and Islamophobia in America emphasize the artificial nature of emotion-laden racial definitions and attempt to deconstruct the conflation of individuals from various racial and religious categories into a single Islamic Other. However, the comics that negatively represent the Islamic Other operate through dehumanization and repeated comparisons to other culturally accepted figures of evil, and in this way are able to create a definite enemy on whom all of the misfortunes of 9/11 can be blamed.

Ultimately, I argue that these four comic anthologies represent a snapshot of American culture in transition as it attempts to come to grips with a traumatic and destabilizing event while simultaneously paving the way for an increasingly militaristic future. The comics often present a very shallow understanding of the Islamic Other, one that is rife with stereotypes and conjecture, and rely on a cultural Islamophobia shared by both creators and readers. The comics that avoid these misunderstandings only emphasize the extent to which Islamophobia pervades our culture. In these comic anthologies, we see a reflection of an American culture all too willing to believe the worst of the Islamic Other, and willing to assume the roles of both victim and aggressor in order to pursue its ideological goals.