The FAQ Collective, consisting of Mylène Gamache, Jen Portillo, Tara Lambert, Raelene Foisey, Ryn Broz and Nadine Boulay, have worked together arduously to publish the second issue of the University of Manitoba Feminist and Queer Review (FAQ Review). The Manitoban recently had the opportunity to ask the FAQ Collective questions about their organization, their publication and its significance.
Manitoban: How is the FAQ Collective organized?
FAQ Collective: The FAQ Collective currently consists of six undergraduate members. We are women’s and gender studies, religion, philosophy and science students at the University of Manitoba. We define ourselves as a collective because we each have assigned responsibilities to uphold. Further, no decision is reached without first establishing a consensus among us, thus requiring each editorial member to be consulted to ensure that an appropriate discussion of the possibilities at hand occurs. Our success as a collective depends on our own proficiency in executing certain tasks and our ability to foster productive lines of communication. Further, the collective is nonhierarchical; in this way, we strive to be aware of the distribution of power and enable all members to exercise equal authority.
M: How has the FAQ Review helped dispel misconceptions about women’s and gender studies?
FAQ: The FAQ Review is an annual undergraduate peer-reviewed journal. The publication was created to re-define what constitutes “academic” work, to demonstrate the unique need for undergraduate voices to be heard and to encourage readers to critically engage with feminist and queer issues. We are successful in doing the latter because the pieces featured in the publication are expanding common preconceptions of what constitutes “queer” and “feminism,” or how one may go about defining oneself as such.
We’re doing away with the oversimplified imperative to constrain our analyses with succinct definitions and systems of categorization. “Queer” and “feminist” are umbrella terms that account for a number of social issues related to the ways in which we are gendered, sexed, raced and classed. We’re channeling our queer desire to disorganize the general preconceptions of what it means to be queer, transgendered, straight, angry, passionate, frightened, jouissante, ecstatic.
M: What plans and ideas are in the works for the next issue?
FAQ: The collective is currently in a transitioning stage. As a result, we are excited about new members joining the collective and bringing with them their own creative flare and ingenuity to this exciting project. We do, however, have the basic goal to print more issues and to distribute them more effectively.
M: What kind of feedback are you receiving from readers about the publication?
FAQ: We’ve received a range of reactions from readers, contributors, funders and supporters spanning from encouragement, excitement and even discomfort. We are extremely fortunate to have an unbelievable support system. Most readers are eager about the work our contributors and collective members are doing in countering misconceptions about gender analysis, sexuality and institutional structures of power. We have hosted two launches thus far, at which the publication has been so warmly received. We’ve derived an immense degree of satisfaction in such instances, that is, when becoming part of a room full of avid supporters and eager contributors mingling and conversing.
M: Why is the FAQ Review such an important forum for feminist and queer students?
FAQ: There is no other forum like this one. What the publication offers is a concretized space for feminist and/or queer students to express themselves on issues that are of both importance and relevance to their quotidian livelihoods.
The FAQ Review creates a space to draw connections between the material and the epistemological. It allows for queer and feminist voices to resound; voices that are constantly threatened with silence and consequently marginalized even within academia.
We are contributing to a large body of discourse that attests to the numerous ways in which the centre is shifting; the projection of our voices in this journal works to counter the (mis)conception that the margins are simply peripheral. We are drawing attention to the vastness of queer and feminist issues and ideas. The complex issues at hand are overflowing the containment of this paper-bound journal; they have long pervaded our daily thoughts and existences. For these reasons, we feel it’s only appropriate that we share our views so that they may be recognized, problematized and considered by all members of both academic and non-academic communities.
M: How does the FAQ Collective and publication embrace the multiplicity of meaning?
FAQ: Our contributors each bring their own relevant experiences and thoughts to the table. The publication is not wedged within a rigid epistemological framework. We welcome a variety of opinions, which can be either contradictory or complimentary to one another.
Copies of the FAQ Review are available at the U of M Womyn’s Centre, 190 Helen Glass.