Building solidarity for the Asian diaspora in Europe
We spoke with Joon Lynn Goh & Annie Jael Kwan Asia Art Activism on their initiative Tools to Transform: Workbook for Asian Diasporic Organising in Europe and what it means in terms of European public space and solidarity. The project Tools to Transform focuses on building solidarity for an Asian diaspora across Europe that is diverse and also includes frontline communities and workers facing xenophobia and racialised scapegoating in the wake of COVID-19 but yet are mostly invisible in the political imagination of Europe.
“We aim to create a workbook that offers a resource of inter-community skills and strategies for Asian diasporic artists, educators and activists to challenge racism and build European solidarity between inter-Asian diasporic communities, and between South/South East/East Asians and wider communities of colour,” Joon Lynn and Annie explain.
Tools to Transform will include lesser-known Asian diasporic narratives, tools, workshop plans and texts to support strategies of educating, organising, alliance building. As well as conflict resolution, addressing topics including the history of racism & disease and anti-racist strategies; labour organising and campaign building around labour and migration from the perspective of domestic/health/sex workers; and community conflict resolution training around Inter-Asian/Intergenerational/Inter-communities of colour, including confronting anti-blackness in Asian communities.
Connecting Asian communities across Europe
When asked what experiences led Asia Art Activism to apply to the Culture of Solidarity Fund they stated “As a group of South East / East Asians, we have followed the racialisation of COVID-19 from the orientalising language of ‘Yellow Peril’ within European newspapers and the casual racism of social media memes, to the rise of violent attacks on Asians across Europe, to the overrepresentation of people of colour, including Asians, doing essential work to the overrepresentation of people of colour dying from COVID-19.
Our work today is to connect and share strategies between Asian communities across Europe, recognising our differences, but also our shared experience of structural racism that requires us to build solidarity between inter-Asian communities as well as wider communities of colour.”
European solidarity and Public Space
“European solidarity can only exist if its frontline communities and leaders, often migrants and people of colour, are supported in their capacity to determine and change their conditions of living, working and re-imagining Europe. This project enables hubs of grass-roots Asian diasporic networks to become more connected and resourced to share skills and strategies, to collaborate on joint actions, and develop the inter-community skills of conflict resolution and alliance building to strengthen Asian diaspora solidarity, which in turn can inform a more complex and less Euro-centric understanding of what economic, social and political recoveries might look like across Europe,” they said.
“This project is rooted in the act of imagining. If Asian diasporic communities are a significant part of European everyday life, what are the catalysts for these communities to feel engaged and activated politically and civically? What could an Asian diasporic movement across Europe look like? And how would a political imagination of Europe change if is shaped by the experiences and organising of Asian communities?”
The mission of Tools to Transformation
“We will be working with 8 Asian diasporic grass-roots networks within Europe led by Vietnamese, Thai, Filipina, & South East Asian artists, educators & activists to form an editorial team for Tools to Transform. The editorial team will refine the framework of content for the workbook, and solicit contributions by invitation and open call. We aim for Tools to Transform to be a useful resource and workbook for Asian diasporic organising in Europe that can be freely accessed online.” They expressed when asked what the mission of Tools to Transformation is.
Tools to Transformation collates permanent resources for organising around overt and structural racism that is responsive and accessible to various European local contexts. It builds a rare alliance and collaborative action between diasporic South/South East/East Asian communities living across Europe, and creates dialogues between Asian communities to be heard within and across themselves, to network and to give mutual support to one another. By creating a stronger Asian diasporic voice, Tools to Transform supports the creation of a more equitable civic sphere and political imagination of ‘Europe’ that is reflective of its diverse populations.
Grant awarded: €8,200