From exile in European cities to remote camps in embattled Myanmar, refugees facing every level of threat have created autonomous projects—zines—writing and reading together to site their politics by any means possible. In “Kachin State: the Curse of Geography,” ArtsEverywhere editor Siddhartha Joag recalled the art and writing workshops he encountered among refugees caught between Chinese armies and the Kachin Free Army at Myanmar’s contested border with China. Largely unseen and independent of any consequences, their work together let them become “participants in their own political discourse, opening the possibility of a political identity.” In this piece for the Polity of Literature, Sidd expands his scanning beyond Kachin State to include examples from the vast Bidi Bidi refugee camps in Uganda; the Plaza Girls zine from survivors of the Moria Camp in Lesbos, Greece; and Bangladeshi and Iranian writers working in exile in Scandinavia. As with the children of Terezín, who made and shared zines while in a Nazi death camp, the actions of writing and reading together constitute a realm of politics still within the grasp of putatively “powerless” refugees.
1 March, 2022