Technology / Ideas / COVID-19 / Launching Check Global zine "Viral Politics: Tales from the Pandemia"
Viral Politics 1 Zine Cover
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As Meedan and the Check Global program wraps up 2020, we are so excited to launch our zine Viral Politics: Tales from the Pandemia. Artists from throughout the Global South have illustrated the ways the pandemic has affected digital surveillance, freedom of speech and gender-based violence in their home countries, and how they resist. Check it out below!

Zines are independent publications sharing discourses of political and social resistance, historically produced by underrepresented communities. We invite you to play and interact with this digital object. We encourage you to make it your own, print pages of it, cut them, glue them, add glitter. Take a picture and send it to us, to your local authorities and your community. These are challenging times, and we believe arts activism (artivism) can be used as a tool for change and politically transformative therapy to survive quarantine and ignite meaningful conversations and interactions.

We envisioned creating this zine at the beginning of the pandemic, when media attention primarily focused on how the Global North handled the crisis and ignored the health emergencies of the Global South. Simultaneously, Europe and North America’s call for expanded surveillance technology to fight the pandemic gained traction across the world, but this call would ultimately affect people living under autocratic political regimes very differently. All the while, Big Tech continues to use this moment to increase unethical and unregulated data collection practices, dealing a blow to years worth of global policy and digital security advocacy. The ramifications of such policies in developing economies exacerbated local activists’ and minority groups’ vulnerability and will continue to do so well after the pandemic.

In this context, amplifying voices of artists and organizers of the Global South is essential to more directly serve their communities and talk about their own pandemic-era issues. Together nine talented comic artists from APAC (Asia Pacific), NAWA (North Africa & West Asia), Africa and Latin America were able to convey these concerns. Most entries were written in each artists’ home language and then translated into English.

Technology unites the themes of all 7 comic entries, shared below:

  • In Tunisia, we learn Othman Selmi’s “ABC’s of COVID-19 in Tunisia.”
  • In Lebanon, Maya Chams takes us into a gamified experience of tech militarization.
  • In Uganda, Martin Kharumwa presents the nation’s social media tax as a barrier to people’s right to access information.
  • In Brazil, comic artist Bennê Oliveira shares a domestic worker’s daily life in the favelas using WhatsApp groups to self-govern in the absence of government support.
  • In Mexico, Mariana Lorenzo (Maremoto) showcases the rise of violence against women both online and offline through reworking the classic fairytale about Red Riding Hood.
  • In India, Vishakha Prakash’s powerful collages portray state censorship of women activist’s voices.
  • In China, Sage Cheng illustrates a tale of Chinese communities’ resilience to state tech interference.

Finally, Honduran artist Gago Ilustra unites these stories throughout the zine with his signature neon post-apocalyptic style. In 2021, we look foward to continue supporting our communities through artmaking as a form of resistance.

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