The Khaleejesque team continually ponders with the barrage of research, commercial trends, and click bait articles that have called ‘time of death’ on our respective field of publishing. With our collected knowledge, network, and experience in what is seemingly a “dying field,” we set to formulate our own research more focused on the MENA publishing scene on a global scale—namely, niche and independent publishing platforms, whether print or online, founded and staffed by young Arabs and Muslims from around the world.
As a platform that strives to amplify the voices of creatives and activists alike, we are dedicated to sharing our findings on a burgeoning field amongst creatives of the MENA region and beyond. As traditional publishing houses increasingly diminish, these independent platforms are paving the way for a new movement—heralding a cultural paradigm shift towards an egalitarian voice in publishing far from the constraints of traditional print and online media.
In addition we’ve reached out to individual Zines who have shared with us their intricate workings and their missions and visions for their platform.
These are collective answers from the team at Maamoul Press.
- About the Platform:
Our impetus for founding and running Maamoul Press is to support and foster storytelling for us, by us, when it comes to our own and other communities of marginalized backgrounds that often do not find spaces for their stories in mainstream avenues. When we tell our own stories, we write our own histories, analyze our present realities, and imagine our collective futures. And we do so independent of outside "experts" who seek to frame the narrative around our lives and experiences. As diaspora artists ourselves, by positioning the work of diaspora artists alongside the work of artists living in our home countries, we seek to break down barriers that fragment our communities.
We’re run by artists, for artists; creating opportunities for our work and the work of others like us to enter spaces that we are often (both implicitly and explicitly) barred from. We forge space for multiple, diverse narratives from our communities in arts spaces, resisting tokenization, fetishization, and the idea that we and our people are a monolith. Our approach to making art and sharing knowledge is also rooted in a DIY ethos, with a long tradition in printmaking and zine making spaces. We recognize that formal arts training is not accessible and seek to center and uplift self-taught and emerging artists, while also forging alternative, community-based modes of sharing knowledge. We believe in the importance of peer mentorship and are dedicated to building structures of support for our creative communities.
- Content: what is your publication concerned with and what kind of content does it feature?
We are a small press and art collective for the creation, curation and dissemination of art at the intersection of comics, printmaking, and book arts. We seek to uplift work from a diverse range of creators from marginalized backgrounds, fostering the arts in those communities. Our content is focused on storytelling by us, for us, for marginalized communities.
- The team behind the platform:
The main operators of our press are co-founders Leila Abdelrazaq (Palestinian American artist) and Aya Krisht (Lebanese American graphic designer). We work collaboratively as a team but not on a full-time basis. We work elsewhere full-time and commit our spare time and efforts to Maamoul Press.
The material we publish and distribute is created by a wide range of different artists, our Member Artists: https://maamoulpress.com/Artists
- Work Space:
Our Member Artists are based all over the world. We are based in the metro Detroit area, and meet up to work together at our homes or other places as well as working together online, as the press does not have a dedicated office space.
Header image: Aasiya by Rawand Issa.
Images courtesy of Maamoul Press.