Abstract: This article examines how the legacy of early modern French cultural mores, colonialism, and Orientalism have shaped and reshaped popular culture like comic books and film and thus impacted public perceptions of Islamic populations, particularly those in France in the early years of the twenty first century. Using the example of Batman, Inc.’s “Nightrunner,” this article traces how Orientalist tropes and traditions continue to pervade our discussion of Middle Eastern and Islamic peoples and the discussion of knowledge and knowledge production. What is more, the article examines how anti-hijab and anti-burkha legislation is rooted in charivari traditions and is an interesting addition to the mask : superhero :: veil : Other mentality.
Keywords: French veil controversy, Islam, Batman, Nightrunner, Orientalism, immigration, American conservatism, 2005 riots, burkha, hijab, migration, charivari
Short Title: Mask or Veil
The Mask or the Veil: Unraveling the Cultural Discourse in France and Popular Culture
In dealing with the legacy of colonialism and Orientalism, Western countries find their increasingly cosmopolitan populations in conflict with ethnic prejudices and xenophobia. The disconnect created by assumptions about peoples and cultures and the realities of an increasingly globalized society have created tensions on the streets of major cities, on the silver screen, and throughout the pages of academic and non-academic literature. The global nature of this conflict situates specific examples, like those of modern France, throughout the fluid levels of historical discussion. This article examines how popular culture, like comic books and film, struggles with the complicated nature of twentieth and twenty-first century cultural discord, as situated squarely in the aftermath of colonial and Orientalist heritage and alongside cultural mores older still.
Edited by Dhara Anjaria
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy.