This thesis coheres around the issue of collective political mobilisation within one part of the contemporary feminist movement, or more specifically, within the Swedish feminist zine community. A feminist zine, also commonly referred to as Grrrlzine or femizine, is a small non-commercial and non-professional publication, which is distributed by channels other than that of the mainstream media.
The aim of the thesis is to examine what role the 'name' ' sisterhood' has in the constitution of a feminist zine community. Further, it is to explore the ways in which this 'name' is expressed and the precise function this name has within the community itself. That 'sisterhood' is necessary for a feminist politics is, according to the vast majority of the zines studied, obvious. Nevertheless the issue of what sisterhood 'is' or what it ’ought to be’ is constantly under negotiation. In this thesis I study how the name sisterhood works to create a collective feminist identity – even if this very 'name' comes to be articulated in, sometimes radically, different forms.
In order to conduct my analysis, I have taken several theoretical decisions. First, I have chosen to frame the zine community in accordance with the term communitas, defined as a collective identity constituted in terms of its opposites, by that which it is not. In this specific case, this Other consists of the commercial media, that is also, conceived as an effect of a wider patriarchal threat.
Second, to understand the differences which exist within this community, I have chosen to develop three feminist logics, to capture some quite contradictory articulatory strategies. They are referred to as ’liberal feminist’, ’radical feminist’ and ’post feminist’. The concept of logics allows me to interpret how it is that three different (and sometimes competing) feminist traditions can be found in the zine community, and commonly how in a single zine, or a single text, the three logics can coalsce.
As mentioned above, it is the 'name' sisterhood that provides the glue that holds the feminist zine community together. To understand this I have analyzed sisterhood by way of the concept 'empty signifier', that is, a 'name' which is partially emptied of meaning and which serves as a surface of inscription for a variety of feminist demands, demands that in themselves may have very little, or even nothing in common.
Finally, the ideas outlined in the thesis call for reflexivity, that is, for an explicit meta-analysis of the conduct of one’s own research process. In this thesis I discuss the problematic arising when the feminist researcher studies a feminist movement, and the inevitable blurring of political partisanship and theoretical analysis that takes place. Here I pay particular attention to the frontiers that a political community is always-already in a process of re-negotiating, and how the researcher is herself part of this very re-negotiation.
Umeå: Institutionen för kultur och medier/Etnologi, Umeå universitet , 2006. , 200 p.
Diskurs, post-marxism, feminism, genus, sociala rörelser, alternativa medier, systerskap och reflexivitet.