Who is My Kali
My Kali is a queer-feminist, bilingual webzine from and for the Arabic-speaking region and diaspora. Established in 2007, the publication covers a range of topics intersecting with gender identity, sexuality, and orientation. Through its work, it aims (a) to create safe digital spaces for and produced by queer-feminist communities, (b) to encourage the co-production of alternative queer-feminist knowledge, and (c) to document the stories and creativity of our communities.
What we do
Through our content, we address and raise awareness about contemporary social and political issues, document voices and experiences of marginalized and oppressed groups, bring together perspectives around broader themes, and feature established and emerging voices in alternative arts and activist spaces. (Audio)visual works play an essential role in this endeavor, highlighting aesthetics as an essential tool to communicate and support knowledge production through mixed media, kitsch culture, or experimental photography.
We publish two digital issues each year, which are organized around a central theme that comes to life in our “digital covers.” These covers re-appropriate print identity to feature artists and public figures and encapsulate the concept and content of the issue.
We do our best to provide content that is candid, unashamed, and representative of multiple experiences of queer or feminist identities. This means allowing room for the expression of experience with minimum censorship around how that experience is communicated. We try to provide a space for individuals to bring forward truthful accounts, and for readers to reflect on these pieces to expand their own perspective on a given theme or topic.
We value the experiential as a valid site of queer-feminist knowledge production, and we challenge notions of who gets to produce knowledge and participate in the conversation. We reclaim what is considered as “inappropriate” forms of engagement, by welcoming a diversity of experiences and perspectives. And, we challenge the gatekeeping practices around the “right” way to talk about these issues within our communities.
Collaboration is at the center of our work. We value working closely with writers, artists, and activists; experimentation in form and content; and reflecting the work of emerging and established writers and artists. This is informed by our anti-colonial and anti-hierarchical principles, that push us to work across borders, counter Western cultural imperialist discourses, and address both offline and online concerns.
We believe that our collaborative approach to producing queer-feminist knowledge should also be reflected in how we distribute and promote these works. Keeping our content Open Access ensures that it can reach the broadest community possible; we do not believe in paywalls around valuable information, be it for research purposes or individual learning. Additionally, we believe that publishing as much content as possible in Arabic and English allows a wider group of people to engage with these works.
Why we do it
At My Kali, we work to address the lack of queer feminist knowledge available in the Arabic-speaking region. We envision its contribution as complementary to, rather than competing with, existing varieties of knowledge around queer experiences, identities, and understandings of the world. It is important to us that queer identity and representation are integrated with art, culture, and literature.
Additionally, producing Arabic-language content – not only in fusha but in various dialects – is an essential part of our politics. We believe that language, in all its forms, plays a key role in queer world-making and community building, as well as in how we think and exist. In line with many anti-colonial language movements, we aim to promote Arabic-language content on queer-feminist issues and to provide a platform for Arabic-language writers to express their ideas. This is especially significant due to the suppression of such knowledge and discourses in Arabic language.
Working primarily in digital space, we acknowledge and value its importance in shaping our realities, establishing a broad reach, and building a movement. My Kali is digital only (for now!) and we take pride in being able to provide a safe experience for individuals to scroll through, read, share, and feel connected in one way or another.
“I was afraid to forget life, to forget certain moments, and documentation helped. It was a challenge to leave physical evidence of my connection to the queer culture/community, but having it digitized helped. I was frustrated by not being able to maintain and claim ownership of my memories and experiences. Creating My Kali was for the purpose of connecting and relating to others who are going through similar journeys, and my attempt to capture time and protect it from being discarded.”Khalid Abdel-Hadi (aka Kali) – Founder of My Kali,