Panel 01 Feminist Theory and Visual Culture

Event Title

Can comic books narratives be an effective communication tool influencing popular perceptions about rape victims? -- Case study of India’s first augmented reality comic book Priya Shakti

Start Date

13-2-2015 1:30 PM

End Date

13-2-2015 2:50 PM

Panel

Feminist Theory and Visual Culture

Paper/Panel Track (if known)

Mediascapes

Abstract

ABSTRACT

This paper uses in-depth interviews to explore what role comic book narratives play in creating awareness about social issues and influencing popular opinion. The gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012 led to the creation of the comic book Priya Shakti in December 2014. This Augmented Reality product speaks about prevailing cultural beliefs in India regarding rape victims, by using Hindu mythology in its narrative and calls for a change of these beliefs. I try to understand what role the writer (and the target audience) sees Priya Shakti and similar comic books playing in actually impacting these cultural beliefs.

Post December 2012, some scholarly work has focused on popular perceptions about rape survivors in India. In the area of comic books, previous research has shown how historical events and scientific facts explained in comic book format can be effective educational tools in schools and how some comics impact cultural practices. However, whether socially relevant comics can affect cognition and influence opinion on issues such as rape, is an area less studied.

I conduct an in-depth interview with the writer of Priya Shakti to explore what role the writer feels his (and similar) comic books can play in influencing social change and what he feels about the use of religion and mythology in comics. Further, I conduct short interviews with 20 English-educated Indian men and women (age 21-45) and ask them the same questions, to explore possible similarities and differences in perceptions between the “target audience” and writers. My interviews reveal that while comic book narratives are seen as an effective tool to create awareness about treatment of rape victims, to play a larger role of influencing popular opinion, they will have to be included in school curricula.

Key Words: socially relevant comics, rape survivors, effects, cognition, opinion, India

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Feb 13th, 1:30 PM Feb 13th, 2:50 PM

Can comic books narratives be an effective communication tool influencing popular perceptions about rape victims? -- Case study of India’s first augmented reality comic book Priya Shakti

ABSTRACT

This paper uses in-depth interviews to explore what role comic book narratives play in creating awareness about social issues and influencing popular opinion. The gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012 led to the creation of the comic book Priya Shakti in December 2014. This Augmented Reality product speaks about prevailing cultural beliefs in India regarding rape victims, by using Hindu mythology in its narrative and calls for a change of these beliefs. I try to understand what role the writer (and the target audience) sees Priya Shakti and similar comic books playing in actually impacting these cultural beliefs.

Post December 2012, some scholarly work has focused on popular perceptions about rape survivors in India. In the area of comic books, previous research has shown how historical events and scientific facts explained in comic book format can be effective educational tools in schools and how some comics impact cultural practices. However, whether socially relevant comics can affect cognition and influence opinion on issues such as rape, is an area less studied.

I conduct an in-depth interview with the writer of Priya Shakti to explore what role the writer feels his (and similar) comic books can play in influencing social change and what he feels about the use of religion and mythology in comics. Further, I conduct short interviews with 20 English-educated Indian men and women (age 21-45) and ask them the same questions, to explore possible similarities and differences in perceptions between the “target audience” and writers. My interviews reveal that while comic book narratives are seen as an effective tool to create awareness about treatment of rape victims, to play a larger role of influencing popular opinion, they will have to be included in school curricula.

Key Words: socially relevant comics, rape survivors, effects, cognition, opinion, India