Here is Mimi/POCZP’s Barnard donation statement in its entirety. Click here for the Barnard blog post that includes donation details.
BARNARD LIBRARY DONATION STATEMENT
The Mimi Thi Nguyen Collection in Collaboration with the POC Zine Project
January 17, 2013
By Mimi Thi Nguyen
I first met Jenna Freedman from the Barnard Zine Library at event called, “Meet Me At the Race Riot: People of Color in Zines from 1990 to Today,” in November 2011. Freedman had contacted me in spring of that year with an open invitation to speak at the Barnard Zine Library if I ever found myself in New York City, after noting that I spoke about the Race Riot compilation zines at both the Chicago Zine Fest and the Midwest Zine Fest.
Having been invited to present my scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania later that fall, I proposed a side trip to come to Barnard. In short order, Freedman contacted Kate Wadkins of the For the Birds Feminist Collective and Daniela Capistrano of the POC Zine Project and organized the “Meet Me At the Race Riot” event, featuring a truly amazing panel of women of color zine writers – and thus Freedman is key to those efforts that laid the groundwork for the POC Zine Project speakers’ bureau.
That this should be so is no surprise, since Freedman in her position as head archivist for the Barnard Zine Library has made it the collection’s mission to focus upon zines by women of color as an important but much under-observed contribution to the story of contemporary zine culture in general, and to riot grrrl as feminist movement in particular.
It is with great pleasure that I collaborate now with Daniela Capistrano to donate these zines to the Barnard Zine Library. As the mission statement for POC Zine Project states, the archive and access to it are central: “POC Zine Project’s mission is to makes ALL zines by POC (People of Color) easy to find, share and distribute. We are an experiment in activism and community through materiality.”
With this mission statement in mind, I wish to address two issues that concern us —myself, and Capistrano at the POC Zine Project— in pursuing these archival collaborations: For the first, we argue that the archive is not just a place for study, but must be itself an object of it.
What is in the archive, and how did it get there?
What are the criteria for assembling, organizing and presenting materials?
Who selects and collects, shapes and donates their stories to an archive?
What is not there?
How do these materials and absences produce knowledges, including norms and teleologies?
It is stating the obvious to observe that no archive is an authoritative source for grasping a record of the past; we know from postcolonial studies in which the archive is demonstrably an artifact of colonial frames that the story the archive –any archive— tells is provisional, partial.
This concern then leads us to the second, focused on feminist historiography –how do we tell the story of feminist movement and teleology, and the place of women of color?
As the narrow scope of liberal multiculturalism has by now taught us, inclusion and incorporation might be made to cover over more troubling queries about how women of color are included, incorporated, or otherwise made visible. I am thinking of feminist archives or retrospectives that too often “hold a place” for women of color to say their piece, but in such a way that contains their critique and segregates it from the story of the movement’s contribution.
We can see this logic operating in retrospectives of riot grrrl in which the story of race is contained as a chapter, or a part of a chapter, in its history, when it appears at all. As I have said elsewhere, the archive is a political and cultural meaning making machine for the passage of objects into what Michel Foucault calls knowledge’s field of control and power’s sphere of intervention, and for “minor” objects in particular, we know well how troublesome such a passage might be.
At the same time, myself and Daniela here wish to posit another historiographical gesture. That is, what if we refuse the emplottment of absence and subsequent redemption-through-presence that would render women of color as mere addition or supplement to the archives?
What if the intervention becomes the story to tell about them? This is the story, we believe, that the Barnard Zine Library aims to tell.
In that spirit, the donations made from my collection in collaboration with the POC Zine Project and in conversation with Jenna Freedman at the Barnard Zine Library are both a critique (broadly construed) and an alternate chronicle taking up questions about race and coloniality that cut across assumed feminist histories, investments and teleologies.
These selections from my collection point to not a side story in riot grrrl movement or girls’ expressive cultures, but the story of encounter and contest, exchange and challenge – denoting not the singularity of feminist movement, but its slide by other feminisms, fracturing and multiplying into other worlds.
Again, as I have said elsewhere (and repeatedly on the first POC Zine Project/Race Riot! Tour in 2012), those other histories of people of color —here represented in the materials we donate together— are not an interruption into a singular scene or movement but the practice of another, co-present scene or movement that conversed and collided with the already-known story, but with alternate investments and forms of critique. These other stories of riot grrrl in particular and also punk at large unfolding enact historical and theoretical provocations with which we have yet to reckon.
 I am grateful to my graduate research assistant Ariana Ruiz for the hours she put in copying and creating an inventory for the zines.
 Some of the material adapted here for this statement comes from Mimi Thi Nguyen, “Afterward,” in Punkademics: The Basement Show in the Ivory Tower, edited by Zack Furness, New York: Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2012, 217-223; and Mimi Thi Nguyen, “Riot Grrrl, Race, and Revival,” in Women & Performance special issue “Punk Anteriors,” edited by Elizabeth Stinson and Fiona I.B. Ngô, 22:2-3 (July-November 2012); 173-196.
THANKS, JENNA <3
- Jenna Freedman
Editor’s note: If you are interested in accessing digital copies of any of these zines, send us a message.
ABOUT THE RACE RIOT! TOUR
POC Zine Project held its first Race Riot! Tour in 2012, producing 20 events in 14 cities, which included speaking engagements at six universities. Click here to view photos from the POC Zine Project: 2012 Race Riot! Tour tour finale at Death By Audio in Brooklyn and access all the tour stop recaps.
We will be taking the Race Riot! Tour through 14 more cities in 2013. Stay tuned!
SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT
If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour and the poverty zine series.
DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh
You can also send well-concealed cash or a check! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details or if you have questions.
Info about the poverty zine series: http://bit.ly/RLVTVt