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  • Zines in Third Space: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric by Adela C. Licona
  • Alyssa A. Samek
Zines in Third Space: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric. By Adela C. Licona. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012; pp. xv + 191, $75.00 cloth; $24.95 paperback; $24.95 e-book.

What do coalitions look like in everyday contexts? How might scholars continue to theorize the rhetorics of borderlands and intersectionality? Feminist, queer, and rhetorical scholars interested in further complicating intersectionality, identity politics, and activism at literal and figurative borderlands will find a terrific contribution in Adela C. Licona’s Zines in Third Space. For Licona, “third space” refers to “an interstitial space of intersection and overlap, ambiguity and contradiction, that materializes a subversion to either/or ways of being and reproducing knowledge” (11). Licona draws upon and extends the theoretical contributions of feminist scholars Gloria Anzaldúa and Chela Sandoval by exploring how the third space and borderlands rhetorics materialize in zines. Because zines, with their DIY production, complicate and resist normative conceptions of identity and community, they provide a unique way to examine borderlands rhetorics in third space. Further, Licona adds, “zines have much to teach us about representations of the self and community as contradictory, complicated, ambiguous, and on the move” (3). They offer robust examples of visual and discursive rhetorics that create “critical consciousness,” perform coalitional subjectivities, and subvert contemporary modes of consumption. Thus, Licona’s analysis points scholars to zines to demonstrate the messiness of the borderlands—a generative third space that complicates identity politics and activism.

Extending scholarship on zines and zine culture, Licona suggests a spectrum for understanding their wide range according to their relationship to action and social change. The spectrum begins on one end with the self-reflective “perzines” (personal zines) frequently born out of middle-class, white, teenage angst to a midpoint represented in part by Riot Grrrl zines of the underground feminist punk movement. The other end of the spectrum is made up of what Licona calls “third-space zines” produced by self-described feminist, of-color, and queer zinesters who “offer everyday recipes for community resistance to mainstream [End Page 227] media, corporatization, and globalization and its concomitant exploitations” (22). Licona analyzes the primary functions of zines by moving back and forth between the visual and discursive “re-presentations” produced by zinesters and between the zines’ discourse and academic discourse of feminist theory.

Chapter 2 considers how zines create coalitional consciousness and imagine communities through borderlands rhetorical strategies including disarticulation, rearticulation, and code switching. Licona suggests coalitions are “born of articulations, which may be considered expressive and connective practices” (27), a perspective that productively challenges common definitions of coalitions as temporary or long-term political associations or collaborations focused on a particular goal. In third-space zines, she finds creative modes of articulating self and community in a coalitional way. This coalitional potential offers of-color and antiracist zinesters ways to resist “color-blindness and color-blind racism,” engage racism and racialized everyday contexts, and create critical consciousness (28). For example, Licona discusses code-switching in zines as “an act of solidarity, communication, and coalition” (52). In short, zines create coalition in ways that interrupt and challenge normative power relationships and modes of knowledge production. In the process, Licona gives scholars alternative ways of understanding how coalition politics can work.

Chapter 3 focuses on how zines offer “new rhetorical strategies to address sex and gender” and constitute identity in third space (23). Licona emphasizes the roles that affect (what she calls “e-motion”) and embodiment (or the “body-in-relation”) play in the process of re-presenting identity in zines. Here, Licona proffers the concept of “reverso,” which involves a “critical reversal of the normative (and normalizing) gaze,” or a form of code-switching that serves to “redefine bodies, beings, desires, and relationships” at the heart of “third-space re-presentation” (70). Reverso does not simply invert the gaze, but rather refracts it from the third space in messy and unpredictable ways. Licona suggests that third-space zines and zinesters use rhetorical strategies like reverso to reimagine bodies and knowledge in ways that confront normalizing and oppressive...


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pp. 227-229
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