Zining as artful method by French and Curd

Zines ad by French and Curd

Imagine if you made the rules in your organization is the small but powerful provocation underpinning one of the zines discussed in an upcoming article in our special issue on use of the arts in organizing. In taking Zines – something that most of us are familiar with – the authors have made the familiar unfamiliar, writes special ARJ editor Rob Warwick who explains: “To my mind this general idea has considerable potential in transformative action research.”

The authors, Drs. French and Curd, write:

“Hi, we’re Emma and Jade. We’re both museum professionals, action researchers and zinesters interested in questions of equality, community and power. With our combined experience and interests, we draw on examples from our action research within contemporary art museums and galleries, specializing in inclusion, access and democracy. By doing so, we examine the potential of zines in facilitating thinking, learning and doing together, providing space for self-expression and the envisioning of new realities.

Zines (pronounced ‘zeens’) are self-published, low-budget, non-profit print publications. Often associated with punk, feminism or fandom, they have long been a way for marginalized communities to record their stories, exchange ideas and organize. Instead, our article “Zining as Artful Method, presents zines as a potential tool for action researchers which can be used to imagine, test, and create transformative change within organizations.

We use four broad themes including aesthetics, communities of practice, counter-narratives and plurality to think about zines and their place in organizational change. We discuss how zines can support a broad scope of expression through their look, feel and punk spirit. We also consider examples of participatory learning and critical thinking and how zining can enable the creation of communities of practice. This leads us to analyse how zining creates counter-narratives – or ‘little stories’- within monolithic settings, to put forward alternative narratives from the status quo. Finally, we explore zining as a method of plurality that validates personal experience and fosters action research as a ‘we-I’ form of enquiry.

Ultimately, we want to encourage people to use zining as method for creative research and perhaps use it more widely to develop organizations and communities. We recommend that practitioners – of all kinds – explore zining to create dialogue between groups of people – to disrupt, challenge and reimagine the rulebook!”

Full paper available here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/14767503211037104