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 Barakunan.
- About the Platform:
In this politically tumultuous and media-intensive age, we believe strongly in the power of narrative agency. Our aim is to construct an international network of artists, intellectuals, and cultural practitioners that work together in the realms of media to champion a changing world order.
Our conception took place in Beirut, where we built our first stock of literary and visual content. We then moved to Berlin for a period of three months, where one of our team members is based, and registered there. We were welcomed warmly by the creative and literary community and took part in various book fairs and cultural events. We also got our first two releases printed — The Martyrs and The Stranger.
The Martyrs – alternating between poetry and experimental meditative prose, the text probes and subverts archetypes of the martyr, the mystic, the Arab, the west, masculinity — among others.
The Stranger, the Story of Sister Sarah Shamlan — lush, fantastical fiction novel set on the luxurious island of Asour, the nexus of a geo-political re-shifting. This tale of love and sacrifice is narrated by a young woman who arrives on the island with a mission that ignites a radical movement of political mysticism.
The team then split between continents, and began operating from both Berlin, Germany and Beirut, Lebanon. We organized our first event in Beirut — an immersive text-based audio-visual installation — in collaboration with Frequent Defect, a local collective that organizes and promotes experimental musical experiences. In Berlin, we performed a dynamic reading in collaboration with established publisher Broken Dimanche Press at Tropez, a poolside venue. This July, we participated in, How to Reappear — Between the Quivering Leaves of Independent Publishing — a group exhibition at Beirut Art Center, organized by publishers and artists – Kayfa Ta.
These collaborations are essential to our growth, our mission and our vision. In the coming year, we are eager to strengthen our distribution process, set the groundwork for bigger projects, and release two more books, inshallah!
- Content: what is your publication concerned with and what kind of content does it feature?
Barakunan is an independent press and media collective driven by the urgent necessity for ripe and radical voices that challenge dominant narratives. Recognizing the critical role that storytelling plays in writing history, influencing the present and shaping the future, Barakunan is intent on utilizing the contemporary possibilities of publishing to build a dynamic platform consolidating and amplifying visions and voices that champion a changing socio-political order. As a fundamental practice of the house, we create and curate original content through serial novels, short-form fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction and audio-visual material focused around contemporary myth-making.
- The team behind the platform:
Currently, our core team consists of three individuals (a director/writer, editor, and graphic designer). We each continue to work in our own fields, building our resumes, and sustaining ourselves while Barakunan grows. However, we are quickly evolving into a media collective that collaborates with photographers, filmmakers, and musicians.
Dani Arbid is the primary writer and filmmaker. Sarah Huneidi is content manager and editor, and Ghiya Haidar is in charge of design and aesthetics. However, we all work very closely to bring to life content, products, and events. We also collaborate with artists, filmmakers, and other creatives for events and projects. These collaborations are essential to our mission and growth!
- Work Space:
We have what we call our “Berlin Office” and our “Beirut office”, although neither are actually offices! We work from home, or cafes, and spend A LOT of time together on the phone, WhatsApp, and google docs. We all try to be present for events, regardless of where they occur. We think the fact that we are far-flung works to our advantage, as we are able to plant seeds and engage with communities simultaneously in Europe and the Arab world.
Images courtesy of Barakunan Publishing.