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Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom…

Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

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What can I say about this book? It wasn't a subject matter I would normally pick up. A friend had suggested it, not because she had read it, but because she was familiar with the author and knew that I have enjoyed some zine publications by other authors in the past. I was surprised that my total lack of knowledge on Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. I don't feel like I learned a lot about those things from reading this, but it didn't seem to be the author's intent to inform. It was more of a glimpse, or taste of a very specific part of Cambodian people through the eyes of a westerner, and all that entails. I enjoyed Moore's interactions and dialogue with the girls. The power of this work is the author's willingness to include herself and her opinions within the text. Her transparency of being subjective and involved holds more weight than a feigned objectivity that might have been presented. ( )
  jakegest | Dec 24, 2013 |
What happens when punk rock feminism travels across international borders?

Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh tells the story of Anne Elizabeth Moore's trip to Cambodia to teach zine making to teenage girls. I saw Anne read at the Olympia Timberland Library before I read Cambodian Grrrl. I remember feeling like the audience for the book was white, privileged Americans and wondered if her reading would have differed had the crowd at the library been more diverse. Reading the book, I questioned how the teenage girls in the book would represent their own experience of the zine-making workshop. Most of all, I wanted to read the zines the girls had created. My favorite part of the book was the epilogue where Moore includes writing by the girls about zine-making.

I came away from the story feeling like zine making as self-publishing is a cultural practice that travels across international borders well because it encourages each person to represent themselves on their own terms. I guess this could be seen as a form of individualism, in that it focuses on art/media/culture as self-expression, but I don't think there is anything necessarily inherent about self-publishing that requires zines be personal. I was drawn to Moore's political writing most of all. I ended up doing some research on Cambodian history, specifically the Killing Fields, which Moore discusses in the book. The oral history of the Khmer Rouge was powerful.

Moore's recent iteration Independent Youth-Driven Cultural Production in Cambodia (IYDCPC) seems to show the project evolving beyond the per-zine:

"(IYDCPC) is an international institute based in Phnom Penh that encourages multidisciplinary creative responses to issues related to popular culture, with a particular focus on media, advertising, marketing, youth, gender, democracy, human rights, and globalization in Southeast Asia"

I look forward to seeing what happens next and hope to read Cambodian grrrl zines someday. ( )
  tvgrl | Jul 26, 2013 |
Tore through it in one night. A really engaging read and a good eye opener for those with very little knowledge about Cambodia. ( )
  VikkiLaw | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Winner of the Bronze Best Travel Book selected by Society of American Travel Writers.In Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh, writer and independent publisher Anne Elizabeth Moore brings her experience in the American cultural underground to Cambodia, a country known mostly for the savage extermination of around 2 million of its own under the four-year reign of the Khmer Rouge. Following the publication of her critically acclaimed book Unmarketable and the demise of the magazine she co-published, Punk Planet, and armed with the knowledge that the second generation of genocide survivors in Cambodia had little knowledge of their country's brutal history, Moore disembarked to Southeast Asia hoping to teach young women how to make zines. What she learned instead were brutal truths about women's rights, the politics of corruption, the failures of democracy, the mechanism of globalization, and a profound emotional connection that can only be called love. Moore's fascinating story from the cusp of the global economic meltdown is a look at her time with the first all-women's dormitory in the history of the country, just kilometers away from the notorious Killing Fields. Her tale is a noble one, as heartbreaking as it is hilarious; staunchly ethical yet conflicted and human. The in-depth examination of Moore's stint among the first large group of social-justice-minded young women from the impoverished provinces is told in intimate, mood-evocative, beautifully-written first-person prose. Cambodian Grrrl is the first in a series of short essay collections on contemporary media, art, and educational work by, for, and with young women in Southeast Asia. Part memoir and part investigative report, Moore's story could only be told by her, and the result is illuminating, and vital, reading.… (more)

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