Tag Archives: Boston University

Boston Professor Uses X-Men Character Costume to Illuminate Islamophobia after Marathon Bombing

Kecia AliIn the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing and capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston University Associate Professor Kecia Ali was invited as a guest blogger for NPR affiliate WBUR’s Cognoscenti where she recounted not only running a 5-kilometer fundraiser with a “Heroes and Villains” theme but also having to convince a fellow runner that her costume as Dust of the X-Men was actually heroic.

Dust, of course, brings the veil front and center. She may be a rare positive representation of a Muslim woman in comic books, but her character is affected by Orientalism and sexism. Does she break down stereotypes, or does she reinforce them?

Ali pointed to an earlier writing by blogger Broken Mystic on the character of Dust and the complexities her portrayals present:

So overall, can we appreciate a character like Dust? I think we can; however, there is a lot of room for improvement. […H]er character is incomplete and her character suffers from stereotypes that are due to misunderstandings about Islamic beliefs and practices.

What with the recent headlines generated by DC Comics’ introduction of Simon Baz as a new Green Lantern, are Marvel Comics readers likely to be reintroduced to Dust anytime soon?

Comics and Muslim Identity at Harvard

The Harvard University Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) has held a number of educator and creative workshops over the past year on comics and the Middle East. (See here and here.) This upcoming one at the end of April, though, is for all audiences and is open free to the public:

Comics and Muslim Identity at the Harvard University CMES

Flier for "Comics and Muslim Identity" at the Harvard University CMES

The day-long conference features talks by Jeffrey Melnick (University of Massachusetts, Boston), Hussein Rashid (Hofstra University), A. David Lewis (Boston University), Darby Orcutt (North Carolina State University), Laura Weinstein (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and Nasser Weddady (American Islamic Congress Civil Rights Outreach Director).

It’s worth noting that the day prior, they will be holding another workshop, this time focused on making comics that address Islam and the Middle East region. Fascinating from all angles!