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A database and analysis of female-youth produced zines

Final Activity Report Summary - FEM-ZINES (A database and analysis of female-youth produced zines)

Mainstream media fails to provide a venue for many people - in particular young people and women - who find themselves excluded or misrepresented. In response, in the last few years an increasing amount of girls and women have taken the tools of cultural production into their hands and have created their own media. However, this increase in cultural productivity has gone largely undetected so far. To counter this gap, this project has focused on archiving and analysing self-published print and online magazines produced by and for female youth. In the course of this project a database has been built with the aim of developing and maintaining an online system to archive and analyse female youth-produced media, so called 'zines'. This database and research platform makes female youth-produced media more accessible and establishes a 'living history' archive.

In the first step, print and online media produced by girls and young women in Europe and worldwide were identified and collected. Data identification has been mainly done by searching online and in various archives. 1 858 zines in 15 languages were identified, as well as 187 zine distros (distributors), 40 comics, 63 magazines and 218 connected organisations. From the identified zines most have been published by far in English, followed by zines published in German, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Polish, and fewer in Swedish, Finnish, Italian, Dutch, Croatian, Japanese, Danish, Norwegian and Hebrew.

In the second step, an archiving database and web portal for girls and young women's self-produced print and online media was set up and programmed. It is online accessible at http://www.grrrlzines.net/database.htm.

The database offers an interface where researchers and media producers can register a zine, information can be retrieved, updated and changed. The database can be searched by title, author, country, category, keywords and publication date. From analysing the data collected in the database, we have learned that the identified zines discuss most often personal topics, followed by the topics of feminism, art and popular culture. Furthermore, music, mental and physical health, how-to guides, lesbianism, queer and transgender issues as well as riot grrrl, abuse, violence against women and self-defence, and politics are of concern to young women publishing zines.

Discussions on motherhood and parenting, activism, ethnicity and race, sexuality, travelling, school, university and work, food, beliefs and religion, and class issues are also an integral part of the identified female-published zines, however to a lesser degree.

Furthermore, we have conducted interviews with twenty-nine female zine producers and distributors from fifteen different countries, namely Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, England, Ecuador, Germany, France, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. These interviews are accessible at: http://www.grrrlzines.net/interviews. In the course of this grant, a number of papers have been written and published and several exhibitions and workshops have been organised and conducted.