Saharia, Prerana: "Superheroes in Indian Comic Books. Is being a Superhero Equal to being a Hindu?" In: Gnosis Special Issue 3 (2019), S. 129–140.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Saharia2019
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Keywords: Critique of ideology, India, Myth, Religion, Superhero
Collection: Gnosis Special Issue
The most popular superheroes in Indian comic books have been created in such a way that they have a very close connection to Hinduism. Either they are some reincarnated form of Hindu gods and goddesses, they owe their superpowers to these gods or goddesses, are dressed in a certain manner that evokes the Hindu gods or their origin stories are set in mythological settings akin to those in Hinduism. However, the question of representativeness of the universe of Indian comic book superheroes forms an interesting area for sociological inquiry. The sheer lack of a superhero belonging to a religion other than Hinduism raises the question whether this can be understood as an attempt to make patriotism synonymous to being a Hindu. Moreover, the Indian comic book universe saw the rise of such superheroes since the 1980s, which coincides with the various revivalist strategies undertaken by certain groups and organisations who believe in the ideology of India as the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ or ‘Hindu nation’. It is, therefore, difficult to escape the idea, if these comic book characters are also a part of this revivalist strategy. The notion of the ‘hero’ in this universe of comic books also needs to be examined. Do these comic books equate being a hero to being someone who saves and protects the ‘nation’ and its people, or is it more than just being a patriot in the narrow sense of the term? This also demands a deeper analysis of the concept of a ‘nation’ and what the notion of the ‘Hindu nation’ signifies. This paper delves into the question of representation of superheroes in the universe of Indian comic books that seemingly makes their religious identity and their national identity one and the same thing.
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