Neal Curtis
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Symbolic authority and kinship
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Another important aspect of sovereignty is the symbolic authority it represents. Here, the sovereign not only creates an identity for a people living within a territory, it also determines kinship structures and ways of being with each other. Ordinarily in relation to this topic the sovereign is likened to the despot, which is ancient Greek was the word used for the head of the house. The sovereign also represents a patriarchal order in which women are exchanged in the ritual of marriage and heterosexuality is the norm. Although superhero comics are rightly criticised for the sexism and the reproduction of patriarchal stereotypes this chapter argues that beneath the conservative surface superhero comics offer quite radical representations of kinship. This is explored by arguing that superheroes are totemic and that they represent all manner of what Donna Haraway calls ‘perverse couplings’. The chapter considers Wonder Woman, Scarlet Witch and The Vision, Swamp Thing and Abby.

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