This thesis is a recent cultural history of zine publishing in Australia. It charts the position of the independent self-publications from being unrecognised as a component of Australia's literary and artistic field, to their emergence as a cultural form that is recognised as significant; one that is produced primarily by young people and has become the beneficiary of government funding and policy initiatives.
The trajectory of the public profile of zines has not occurred without contest. The relationship between zine publishers and those who embody the institutions, including the mass media, the academy and government, that have facilitated the shift in the zine's visibility, is fraught. Difficulties arise out of an independent publishing discourse about those institutions as sites of power that inhibit individual freedom of expression and are subservient, without exception, to economic interests. Against institutions, zine publishers define their unaffiliated publishing practices as a means of 'authentic' expression, where the critique of power is implicit in the apparently accessible, lo-fi' production modes of the zine medium
After historical and contemporary reviews of the subculture's self-positioning, the thesis documents the cultural debates in Australia during the 1990s, focussing on Mark Davis's Gangland, which lamented the lack of participation by young people in a public constituted by cultural production, ft follows the response by the zine publishing subculture to Davis's book, where they asserted the legitimacy of their chosen cultural form by publishing zine anthologies and participating in arts festivals, as well as organising their own. ft is through publications like The New Pollution and Milk Bar, and events, including the LOUD Festival of Youth Arts and the Media and the National Young Writers' Festival (NYWF), that Australian zine publishers have been able, with the support of federal, state and local governments, to establish zines as a viable cultural form and thus enable the participation by young publishers in public forums on their own terms.