Conference Paper — Bearing Witness to Securitized Subjectivities: Kwīr Arabic Digital Zines and Arrest Accounts in Morocco (Georgetown)

Panel: Rethinking the Transnational: Across Media and Beyond Area

American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual Meeting, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., March 7-10, 2019

Healy Hall, Georgetown, D.C.

Much of the scholarship on zines and zine communities is U.S.-centered, and cite Stephen Duncombe’s 1997 seminal survey, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture in which he traces their roots in 1960s punk counter-culture and attests to their political significance as espousing “utopian” outlooks for social change. Anna Poletti’s work on youth zines sees its “DIY” form as a critique of commercialization of youth cultures, and defines it as a community that travels as ephemera (185). Meanwhile, Elke Zobl’s study of feminist e-zines sees them as autonomous media and virtual meeting spaces for its authors to engage in political critique by writing an “oppositional history” and “an alternative to the narrow and distorted mainstream representation of women, queer people, and transgender people . . . that reflects and resists their cultural devaluation” (5). Unfortunately, there is hardly any attention given to the Arabic-language digital zines, a form that is used across Southwest Asia and North Africa by grassroots collectives for LGBTIQ freedom. My paper looks at the ways digital zine accounts of arrest and imprisonment circulate against other forms of erasure. I specifically look at the ways a first-person serial account in Moroccan e-zine, Aswat, go beyond the scope of the censure to testify to sexual regulation in urban spaces, invisibilized in official juridical narratives and media discourses of crisis.