The Zines Amplifying Asian & Southeast Asian Voices Around The World
As someone part of the Southeast Asian diaspora in London, I have often found it very difficult to find spaces dedicated to non-American Asian narratives, particularly within feminism. Attempting to understand why this is the case, I read up on issues such as the Model Minority Myth which has hindered the development of political and social engagement for Asians. While this is something that has deeply ingrained itself within the Asian struggle, I came across an article by Professor Adia Harvey Wingfield who perfectly characterises this disconnect I felt to be a result of not having a collective history of activism. She says that “without a collective history of activism like that found in the black community, Asian professionals experiencing discrimination in education or the workplace often lack the cultural tools to advocate for themselves and suffer in silence.”
However, this discrimination extends beyond professional and academic lives and is something young Asians and the Asian diaspora experience on an everyday basis. While there are many platforms of activism that we have found ourselves slowly creeping into, zine culture has been a great way to build collective activism within our communities inside and outside of Asia.
Zines have undoubtedly been a tool to unite POC. If you’ve never heard of a zine, they are small-scale circulated self-published work, typically created for and by dissidents/members of socially marginalised groups all over the world. It’s a popular graphic-style influenced artistically and politically by the subcultures of Dada and Surrealism and remains an extremely popular format of information, art, and activism.
I gathered a few zines that have given space for Asians and Southeast Asian voices to reclaim their power, understand their history, question their privileges and connect with others to know that we are not alone and that our persistence to unapologetically exist within political, social and cultural discourse is our form of resistance.
白蘿蔔 白萝卜ഡയ്കോൺ lobak 菜頭 củ cải trắng หัวไชเท้า 무우 大根 मूलीمولی mooli
“We are a group of self-identifying South East/East Asian women and non-binary people living within a European context. We have created this zine as a platform for Asian voices that are so often underrepresented and undervalued in mainstream political and feminist discourse. We believe in empowering each other through highlighting the collective frustrations and nuances of our intersectional experiences as a starting point for building a wider platform of solidarity. We aim to share our opinions, celebrate our creativity and build up a stronger collective voice for South East/East Asians.”
“Mula Zine is a bi-annual fashion and culture magazine imagined by Alia Soraya over the summers of 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Mula Zine will not just be limited through an online platform and print but most importantly, anchored across social media where we aim to share an abundance of stories heavily influenced by the youth of Malaysia who had always fearlessly embrace their individuality.
In light of New Malaysia, Mula Zine aspires to be a cultural movement solely dedicated to championing the voice of our youth regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion. The platform will be a safe space for the creative misfits affected by lack of inclusivity and representation here.
Mula Zine will offer a hyper-curated stylized vision by the youth of South-east Asia who has been looking for refreshing ways to express their creativity through mediums like fashion, beauty art, music and culture.
While this online platform is mostly about fashion, beauty, art, music and culture as interpreted by Southeast Asian youths, the higher aspiration is for Mula Zine to become a cultural movement solely dedicated to championing the voices of youths regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion.”
“Migrant Zine Collective is an Aotearoa/New Zealand based art collective run by a passionate team of feminists of colour wanting to amplify, celebrate and share the voices of migrants. The idea kickstarted in early 2017 upon the release of GEN M, short for “Generation Migrant”. A zine collated and published by Helen Yeung in the hopes of celebrating her own Hong Kong-Chinese background along with the voices of migrants around Auckland’s community.
This idea was inspired by the work of Shakti Youth, a group of young people from Asian, African and Middle Eastern backgrounds passionate about social justice and building towards a violence-free future; and Mellow Yellow Aotearoa, a space for which has existed since 2006 for Asian feminists to communicate their specific and diverse experiences.
We aim to open up a safe space where people of colour can share and showcase their creative work, whether it be a one off submission or continuous coverage. As well as connect them through a range of zine workshops and events. Whether you’re in Auckland or based in other cities we welcome your work to be featured so please feel free to message us through the page or email us to get involved!”
Article by Social Media & Content Manager Yaz Omran