The Need for Feminist Zine Fairs

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By Amy Egerdeen

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The Need for a Feminist Zine Fair

We started organizing the first ever Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair (HFZF) around the need for a space that celebrates the voices of folks who are traditionally isolated and ignored, and engage in a larger conversation about feminist zine-making and self-publishing.

We started working towards the HFZF with previous feminist and social justice minded zine fairs in mind – the Philly Feminist Zine Fest and the NYC Feminist Zine Fest specifically, as well as the amazing Toronto Queer Zine Fair. These fairs were total inspiration to us – spaces that prioritize feminist, queer, and other typically marginalized voices.

We put the HFZF together with lots of their values in mind, and with feedback from these fair’s co-organizers. Talking to these zine fair organizers – who also all make their own zines –helped us to further build community between zine fairs and zine-makers, and learn more about what is going on outside of Hamilton / southern Ontario.

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We asked all applicants to the HFZF to talk about why they thought a feminist zine fair might be important. The answers confirmed the need for a specifically feminist space for zine-makers – they talked about the isolation of internet-based publishing, and the need for a physical space for community building; they wrote in-depth about feeling ignored or othered by traditional zine fairs, and the way the major zine fairs were dominated by the same voices; there was excitement about the possibility of a new space with opportunities to connect and collaborate with other feminist zine-makers and self-publishers.

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The HFZF included a zine fair with 40 vendors, diverse all-day workshops, and a collaboratively-made zine by the attendees and tablers of the HFZF. There were tons of stand-out zines and projects being showcased: two of the zine-makers tabling that day – Luisana Alejandra & Anamaria V. de Caballeros, a mother-daughter collaborative project – had their zine, Women of Action, about “women empowerment and civic engagement”, which includes everything from a basic overview of the Canadian political system to a discussion about abusive relationships specifically geared toward women newcomers. Another zine-maker, Asha Ali, brought her zine The YPJ – about “the female brigade of YPG, the people’s protection units in the Kurdish territory of Syria… an all women, all-volunteer Kurdish military faction.” (from Asha’s HFZF application). It sold out within the first half of the day.

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In the collaborative zine we made during the fair, we asked tablers and attendees to answer the question: what does your ideal feminist community look like? The answers echoed the same need for feminist community in zine-making: the need for support, the excitement of building bridges in our communities, the power that comes from making our voices heard, collectively and as individuals.

Look out for the next HFZF, coming fall 2015! More opportunities for celebration and collaboration, and a space to discover new zines and the amazing folks making them.

Find out more about the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair here!

Originally published on Broken Pencil’s blog.

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