South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Indian Super-(em)powered heroine: Female Super-body as an Agent of Change

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

The essay is an attempt to unravel the network of edifices that birth and foster the figure of the superheroine as an agent of social change in India. While following the intrinsic features of the genre, the agency of the Indian superheroine negotiates with the superhero universe as well as the set of precincts that are attached to a feminine identity. ‘In India, however, these prescribed social boundaries do not merely result in ‘masculinized femininity, tomboys, feisty women, or variations of the dominatrix[1]’, but range from culturally sanctioned repositories of feminine power as epitomized by Hindu goddesses such as Durga and Kali, to other socially respected abilities demonstrated by women’s political and intellectual prowess—that is, ‘active models of higher female power are not entirely new[2]’. Aside from mythology, there are several historical references of female warriors, brave queens and princesses. Picking up some more recent superheroine characters from India who are created to fight actual social problems instead of mythical demons; this essay hopes to build a dialogue around how the superpowers of the Indian superheroine also further her individual agency and selfhood as a woman, while standing as a positive example for others.




[1] Jeffrey A. Brown, “Gender, Sexuality and Toughness: The Bad Girls of Actions Films and Comic Books,” in Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture, ed. Sherrie A. Inness


[2] See Patricia Uberoi, “Feminine Identity and National Ethos in Indian Calendar Art,” Economic and Political Weekly 25, no. 17 (1990): WS41–48.

Vartikka Kaul

Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

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3 - Indian Super-(em)powered heroine: Female Super-body as an Agent of Change



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