Why Fanzines? Perspectives, Topics and Limits in Research on Central Eastern Europe


While we strive to develop existing research on fanzines in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), this article provides an introduction to the discussion about of fanzines and the specific historical contexts of CEE. This thematic issue aims to open a debate about CEE subcultures and alternative-press practices in the context of the relationship between the local and the global in contemporary history. With the cross-disciplinary view in this issue and the comparative view in the forthcoming issue we want to open up questions that go beyond the mainstream discourses in history and cultural heritage studies in CEE. The forming of a critical public, which often took place on the pages of fanzines, is reflected in the alternative narratives that undermine well-established stories of late socialism and post-socialism in CEE. Alternative scenes played a significant role in the transformation of CEE societies in recent decades, and their impact can be traced in the political and cultural debates of societies at large. Thus, research on fanzines can offer new insights from a “history from below” perspective. This article provides an overview of fanzine research and highlights three important contexts of fanzine analysis: the first is based on the interaction between creators, recipients, and their networks; the second highlights the special economic considerations of fanzine production and distribution; and the third focuses on the specific nature of the visuality and content of fanzines. We also discuss cultural transfer both between East and West and within the CEE.