Carving out a space for those “inbetween”: The Road to Nowhere platforms the stories of second generation immigrants
In conversation with founding editor Dalia Al-Dujaili, we discover the driving forces behind the magazine and why the second edition adopted a more “editorial” design look.
- Olivia Hingley
- 7 July 2022
The slowing down of life in 2020 left space unseen before for self-reflection. It was this period that journalist Dalia Al-Dujaili observes as having been “a turning point” for many second generation immigrants and children of diaspora. “They hadn’t had much time before to just sit down and think about who they are and how they identified,” Dalia begins, “I think that made a lot of people of colour review their whole lives – not in a super deep way – but I think it did make us rethink everything; our place in white spaces, and our value as creatives.” As a result of this, Dalia began to encounter a lot of amazing, responsive work being posted online, pushing her toward the idea of collating these projects into one cohesive space.
There were other extenuating factors alongside the wealth of material being produced that compelled Dalia to take action in any way that she could. The resurgence of Black Lives Matter, the largely unreported famine in Yemen and the Beirut blast left Dalia feeling somewhat “helpless”. And so, wanting to raise some money for charity, and explore the aforementioned issues and questions of identity, Dalia put out an open call on The Dots, “like, can’t pay anyone, this is a pure passion project,” she recalls detailing, “but does anyone want to explore these themes with me?”
These musings, call-outs and a desire to platform honest, genuine stories resulted in The Road to Nowhere, a magazine constructed with passion, thoughtfulness and drive. Firstly and perhaps most importantly, the magazine seeks to give second generation immigrants the agency to tell their own stories, “how we’ve experienced them, not how people think we exist,” Dalia adds. Moreover, Dalia shares that she is also keen to prevent the magazine from becoming something inherently “political”. “If you look through the magazine, none of it is really political, but you can probably guess our politics from the way we express ourselves.” Instead, Dalia wants the magazine to include moments on mundane life and joy; a free space for someone to express themselves anyway they may wish.
Now on its second issue, the magazine has seen some changes from its first, significantly, in its design. The first issue Dalia wanted it to feel “personal and intimate”, full of found imagery and collage pieces, like peeking inside a family archive. “Immigrant children love to go through their families’ archives because it makes them feel somewhat connected to their history,” Dalia adds. For this edition however, Dalia wanted to pursue something more “editorial”. Being two years since the first publication, Dalia attests to having grown a lot as a person, and having gone through changes as a journalist and creative too. Having spent a period working here at It’s Nice That, Dalia was inspired by the “incredible” creatives she had interviewed and designs she encountered. Enlisting Terrayne Brown as graphic designer, the pair together built an elegantly clean, minimalist look, with a white background and classic typeface, giving precedence to the creatives work and stories. “I wanted the content to be the star of the show,” Dalia explains, “because the people who had contributed to the magazine, they had given their time so generously, and I really wanted to pay them back.”
The publication is full of brilliant, heart-warming and personal stories, from Time Out’s food and drinks writer Angela Hui detailing her experience growing up in a Welsh Chinese takeaway, to artist Wendy Owusu sharing her journey from Paris to Ghana to learn a traditional weaving technique. Whilst obviously being unable to pick a “favourite” piece, Dalia does outline one story that resonates with her; Clothing as a Site of Memory. In the piece Dalia interviews Zain Ali, a fashion designer whose designs act as a “charting of history”, paying homage to the fabrics and cuts of his Pakistani ancestors. “The story is really important to me”, Dalia shares, “because it allowed Zain to explore the trauma in his story, his travelling from Pakistan to the UK, his family’s experience of the partition of Pakistan and India. Obviously these things were super traumatic and heavily political, but there’s not a drop of politics in the piece. It was about how he felt, his experience and how this translated into his craft.”
Paying such care and attention to provide a space for people to explore their personal histories, navigate questions of identity and to quite simply share the crafts close to their heart, The Road to Nowhere is a publication that has tapped into a shared experience, whilst showing the beauty of difference throughout. We can't recommend enough picking yourself up a copy and exploring the exceptional, profound stories throughout.
The Road to Nowhere (Copyright © The Road to Nowhere, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.