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Oral History as Creative Practice at Concordia University’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling

Steven High
p. 108-121

Résumés

L’histoire orale est un domaine de recherche qui est particulièrement bien placé pour prospérer à une époque où le public et les universitaires s’intéressent vivement au partage d’histoires personnelles. Contrairement à l’ethnographie, l’histoire orale n’a pas trouvé de domicile institutionnel dans les universités nord-américaines étant donné sa relation souvent tendue avec la discipline de l’histoire. L’histoire est généralement fondée sur la distance – plus il y en a, mieux c’est ; tandis que l’histoire orale est basée sur l’idée de fermer la distance en apprenant avec les communautés que nous étudions. Pourtant, l’histoire orale est en plein essor dans les universités canadiennes dans les espaces intermédiaires de projets interdisciplinaires collaboratifs et de centres de recherche. Après avoir présenté aux lecteurs la situation au Canada, l’article explore les façons dont l’histoire orale et la narration se sont réunies au Centre d’histoire orale et de narration numérique (COHDS) de l’Université Concordia. L’histoire orale est une pratique créative, et l’une de ses grandes forces est son ouverture à une diversité d’approches. Cela se voit dans l’éventail des projets de recherche-création entrepris par les historiens oraux de Concordia en classe et dans nos communautés. Montreal Life Stories était le plus ambitieux de ces projets, enregistrant les histoires de vie de 500 survivants du génocide et intégrant leurs histoires dans une gamme de résultats publics tels que des pièces de théâtre, des histoires numériques en ligne, des installations artistiques, des programmes radiophoniques, des documentaires et des films d’animation, et une exposition muséale. L’article se termine par l’examen des archives vivantes en ligne des exilés et survivants du génocide rwandais ainsi que des nouveaux outils numériques en cours de développement.

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  • 1 For more on this, see Elizabeth Miller, Edward Little and Steven High, Going Public: The Art of Pa (...)
  • 2 Steven High, “‘Au-delà du syndrome de la ‘citation payante’: Les archives vivantes et la recherche (...)

1Public and scholarly interest in sharing personal stories has grown exponentially in recent years with the rise of new cross-disciplinary methodologies such as digital storytelling, participatory media, photo-voice, collaborative writing, and community-engaged arts and performance. Personal story-sharing has also made in-roads into traditional humanities and social science disciplines, many of which now have “public” sub-disciplines grounded in multi-media authorship and community-engagement.1 The internet is literally bursting with project websites, storytelling platforms, virtual exhibitions, and living archives. And, new digital tools promise to change how we collect, share, and otherwise listen to personal story, though what has been realized so far lags far behind the technological enthusiasm.2

  • 3 Collectively, these former graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have had an enormous interna (...)

2Oral history, as a field of research and as creative practice, is uniquely positioned to thrive in this environment. Unlike ethnography, which has a disciplinary home in anthropology, the field of oral history has never found an academic home in North American universities. There are no university programs in oral history anywhere in Canada and only one in the United States (at Columbia University). The field therefore exists on the margins and the in-between spaces of academia. Oral historians can be found in far-flung university departments in various corners of the university campus. To give you an idea of what I mean, former oral history-focused graduate students and postdoctoral fellows under my (co-)direction have so far found tenure-track employment in departments of History, Theatre, Religion, Communications, Literature, Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies, and Conflict Studies.3 Others have found employment at museums and archives. It is an exciting time to be an oral historian in Canada as elsewhere.

  • 4 See, for example, Steven High, “Storytelling, Bertolt Brecht, and the Illusions of Disciplinary Hi (...)
  • 5 Michael Frisch, “Three Dimensions and More: Oral History Beyond the Paradoxes of Method,” in Sharl (...)
  • 6 Della Pollock, ed., Remembering: Oral History Performance (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005), in (...)

3There are several reasons for oral history’s failure to firmly establish itself within the History discipline. As I’ve written elsewhere, disciplinary authority in History is typically grounded in distance: the more distance we can put between ourselves and our objects of study, the better.4 With distance, comes clarity—at least that is the disciplinary logic. Historians thus suppress the present in our writing and continue to teach our students to write in the past tense and in the third person. By contrast, oral history practice has a very different underlying logic. If historians study the past and not the present, oral historians are primarily interested in the relationship between the past and present, putting memory at the centre of our analysis. One of the most compelling aspects about oral history, is its capacity to “redefine and redistribute intellectual authority, so that this might be shared more broadly in historical research and communication rather than continuing to serve as an instrument of power and hierarchy.”5 We believe in closing the distance, learning with the communities that we study rather than simply about them. As performance studies theorist Della Pollock has written, oral history is the process of “making history in dialogue”: it is “co-creative, co-embodied, specially framed, contextually and intersubjectively contingent, sensuous, vital, artful.”6 This dialogical relationship represents a unique mode of academic production.

The Status of Oral History in Canada

  • 7 For a study of the first large-scale oral history project in Canada, see: Jean-Philippe Warren and (...)
  • 8 Elise Chenier, “Oral History and Open Access: Fulfilling the Promise of Democratizing Knowledge,” (...)

4What we have seen instead of a disciplinary-bounded methodology is the foundation of vibrant new interdisciplinary oral history hubs in Canada, most notably the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg and the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal. Their appearance was made possible by the large-scale investments of the federal government in new “research infrastructure,” like labs and research centres, as well as research chairs.7 There has likewise been a seismic shift in the funding environment towards collaborative research projects and ones that are “partnerships” between universities and civil society. For example, in recent years, Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has funded large-scale oral history projects with Japanese-Canadians, Eugenics survivors, Indigenous people, forced migrants, LGBTQ people, injured workers, and many others. Starting this year, I am heading a new transnational partnership project on “Deindustrialization and the Politics of Our Time.” The past decade has also seen the proliferation of digital spoken word archives, making a diverse range of historically significant digitized and born-digital recordings widely accessible to a much wider audience than traditional archives. The Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, for example, is a new open access archive of complete audio and video recorded interviews—something that is still quite rare in the field.8 Oral history, as a field, has been very well positioned to thrive in this new academic funding environment.

  • 9 See, for example, Catherine Charlebois and Jean-François Leclerc, “Les sources orales et l’expérie (...)

5But what really sets oral history apart is that most oral historians are found outside of the university. Oral history has become a tool for community-building, art and performance, education, museum curation, political action, truth and reconciliation, popular education, historic preservation, participatory urban planning, and other kinds of memory work. In recent years, two federal museums—Canada’s National Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg—were founded with oral history at the heart of their curatorial practices. Locally, the Centre d’histoire de Montréal (CHM) and Toronto’s The Ward Museum have emerged as North American leaders in curating oral history. Inspired by developments in Brazil, the CHM first created the Musée de la personne, which produced award-winning virtual exhibitions, and then made oral history central to its core mission, reinventing itself as le MEM—Mémoires des Montréalais.9

  • 10 I have served on the advisory boards of several of these Canada-wide recognition initiatives and s (...)

6More than anything else, however, it is Canada’s efforts to acknowledge the injustices of the past that have propelled oral history forward in this country. The federal government initiated the National Historical Recognition Program which has funded a number of nation-wide memory projects to document the injustices of the past.10 That said, it was Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) into violence against Indigenous children at residential schools, and the role that these schools played in a wider cultural genocide, that has popularized oral history in Canada. The Commission has been a political watershed in how people think of Canada, as more and more people recognize our country as a “settler colony” rather than a “nation of immigrants.” As you can imagine, this shift in thinking is hotly contested.

7Despite its political significance, Canada’s TRC had its problems. The first set of commissioners had to be dismissed due to infighting. Those that followed, rushing to make up lost time, so as not to lose the confidence of Indigenous communities, were too hasty in starting its collection of recorded “statements.” I was one of a dozen people invited to a meeting in Ottawa to advise them on their interviewing methodology and ethics, but was shocked to learn that their first big “national event,” where thousands would offer their testimony, was scheduled for just six weeks later. They were only now thinking through their approach and the ethics issues that it raised: thus our meeting. The TRC had booked a hotel and was planning on clearing the beds out so they could do a large number of recording sessions simultaneously for several days. We were told that these were statements and not interviews, as there would be no questions asked. As the TRC was top-heavy with lawyers and judges, this was the methodology that they knew best. We discussed many things at this meeting, including issues of consent. What were residential school survivors agreeing to? Could these recorded statements be publicly archived at the end of the TRC? Could survivors opt for confidentiality? Unfortunately, most of these issues were left unresolved—and at TRC’s end, its research and legal arms went to court against each other over whether or not survivors had, in fact, agreed to have their statements archived and made publicly accessible. The courts eventually sided with the lawyers, ruling that survivors needed to sign another consent form if their recording were to be archived. It was the right decision, given the ambiguity of the TRC’s approach, but it was entirely avoidable. It is hard to know how many residential school survivors will be tracked down and will then agree to sign a second consent form. Some survivors have also died in the interim.

8The other sticking point was access. The TRC did not transcribe the interviews and beyond a filing system that identified which interviews were associated with which schools and Indigenous communities, and selected issues, there was no way of accessing the contents of the thousands of hours of recorded testimony. As a result, TRC Commissioners could not realistically access this massive volume of first-person testimony for their final report. My understanding is that they relied mainly on those statements made in their presence, as there were also statements given during public hearings, which were then transcribed as in a courtroom. Who actually listened to the others, if anyone, remains an open question.

Storytelling versus Oral History

  • 11 Alexander Freund, “Under Storytelling’s Spell? Oral History in a Neoliberal Age” Oral History Revi (...)
  • 12 The Storycorps website can be found at https://storycorps.org/.

9All of this public story-sharing activity has raised some concern in oral history circles about policing the border line between oral history, as a field of research with its own journals, professional associations and best practices, and the wider storytelling phenomenon. The best-known critique comes from Alexander Freund, an oral historian in Winnipeg, who wrote a prize-winning article in Oral History Review that equated storytelling with neo-liberal individualism.11 He uses the case of Storycorps in the United States, which collects mainly feel-good stories from across the country, some of which get featured on National Public Radio, to make his point.12 Storycorps is a very corporate model of oral history, quite unique to the United States in my view. While I do question Freund’s sweeping dismissal of storytelling, what I find most troubling is his prescription for the problem: oral history needs to set itself apart. Essentially, his is a disciplinary call for scholarly distance.

  • 13 The website for the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling can be found at: http://story (...)

10I could not disagree more. Oral history is a creative practice, and one of its great strengths is its openness to a diversity of approaches. Our universities have enough walled (disciplinary) cities, we are not in need of another. Academic oral historians benefit from being part of a wider—if sometimes unruly—conversation. I certainly have. Just as the oral history interview itself is a conversation across difference—where the ‘expert authority’ of the interviewer, who brings questions and some training, is placed into conversation with the “experiential authority” of the narrators, who has first-person knowledge as they were “there”—so, too, the oral history field itself. To emulate disciplinary ways of knowing is to diminish our field and our practice, denying what makes the field special. But let’s turn to the Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) as a case in point.13

Teaching and Research at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling

11COHDS was founded in 2006, thanks to an initial $1,300,000 investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canada Research Chairs Programme for research infrastructure and the creation of a research chair in oral and public history. The centre was equipped with a video-conferencing room, two computer labs, a lecture hall, an interview room, project spaces, and an archival space as well as recording equipment. Over the coming years, COHDS grew to over 200 affiliated researchers, graduate students, artists, and community projects. In 2016, in partnership with the Theatre Department, we hired a Canada Research Chair in Oral History Performance (Dr Luis Sotelo Castro), and renovated our facilities to include a new high-tech performance space designed to record and transmit oral storytelling. In 2020, in partnership with the Departments of History and First Peoples Studies, we hired a new Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Oral Tradition and Oral History (Dr Bimadoshka Pucan). All of this is evidence of a major commitment on the part of Concordia University to oral history.

  • 14 These conferences resulted in a number of edited volumes and special themed issues of journals, in (...)

12In any given university semester, there are several dozen workshops and seminars at COHDS, freely given by affiliated members or staff. COHDS also organizes regular journées d’étude, a summer institute (in partnership with the Scottish Oral History Centre in Glasgow), and international conferences. Amongst the conferences organized were ones on collaborative research (2008), Rwandan Survivor Testimony (2008), Remembering Mass Violence (2009), the Cambodian genocide (2011), Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence (2012), Deindustrialization and its Aftermath (2014), Critical Heritage Studies (with UQAM, 2016), and the US Oral History Association (2018).14 While there is not a stand-alone oral history program at Concordia, courses are offered in multiple departments and PhD students in History can do their major (100 books) or minor (50 books) comprehensive fields in oral history.

  • 15 Steven High, “Embodying the Story: Oral History and Performance in the Classroom”, alt.theatre:

13One of the teaching innovations at COHDS has been to tether multiple courses so that faculty across disciplines and even university faculties can contribute to cross-disciplinary oral history training. This first instance occurred in 2010-11, when we informally merged a history and a theatre course over two semesters, into one on Oral History & Performance. During the first term, when I took the lead, students received in-depth oral history training, developed their projects, went through ethics review, interviewed two people each, and then wrote interpretative essays. In the second term, when Ted Little, a theatre professor, took the lead, students then translated these oral history projects into performance. At times, the course was challenging for my history students who were more used to lecture halls and seminar rooms than a dance studio and performance. But there was considerable learning that resulted.15

  • 16 Kathleen Vaughan, Emanuelle Dufour, and Cynthia Hammond, “The ‘Art’ of the Right to the City: Inte (...)

14From 2014 to 2016, courses in four disciplines (History, Art History, Art Education, Theatre) were tethered as part of the Right to the City Pedagogical Initiative. The focus was on the past and present of Point Saint-Charles, a deindustrialized Montreal neighbourhood undergoing gentrification. It was also where three of the four COHDS-affiliated faculty happened to live. All four classes were held simultaneously at Share the Warmth, a neighbourhood group working on food security issues, throughout the semester. The physical location of our classes, and the ways we worked within and across disciplinary boundaries, raised productive questions about knowledge, power and positionality. Where learning happens matters.16

Illustration 1: The “Speed Dates with History” exercise at Share the Warmth in Point Saint-Charles. Photograph by David Ward.

Illustration 1: The “Speed Dates with History” exercise at Share the Warmth in Point Saint-Charles. Photograph by David Ward.

15The Right to the City courses were more loosely tethered than in the first instance, meaning that we worked within our individual courses, between paired courses, and all together, depending on the week. But oral history training was foundational to all four classes, as students engaged with an interview archive recorded as part of one of my research projects. Thus, at the outset, each student, about seventy in all, picked an interviewee’s name out of a hat. They then listened to their interview, often multiple times, and considered how best to represent that person in the “speed dates with history” exercise. You can imagine a large room with two concentric circles, one smaller than the other, with paired chairs facing each other. Students had 90 seconds to introduce themselves as their interviewees, then the person across from them did the same. Everyone then moved to the right and repeated the telling again and again.

  • 17 Monica Eileen Patterson, “The Ethical Murk of Using Testimony in Oral Historical Research in South (...)
  • 18 Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (New York: Zed Bo (...)
  • 19 Julie Salverson, “Performing Emergency: Witnessing, Popular Theatre, and the Lie of the Literal,” (...)
  • 20 Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith, “Venues of Storytelling: The Circulation of Testimony in Human Rig (...)

16The “speed dates with history” exercise raises all kinds of ethical issues as people represent interviewees who may not be aligned with their own gender, race, generation, or class identity. We represent people all the time in our writing without a second’s thought, but performing someone else feels different. It generated considerable anxiety about appropriation, as it was designed to do.17 Historically, scientific research is deeply implicated in the “worst excesses of colonialism.” As Smith cautions, the “word itself, ‘research,’ is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary.”18 Too often, researchers have failed to give back or otherwise contribute to the source communities in which they worked. Oral and public historians continue to struggle with this poisonous legacy. The subsequent circulation, and re-telling of these stories by outsiders, is similarly fraught. “Thoughtlessly soliciting autobiography may reproduce a form of cultural colonialism that is at the very least voyeuristic,” cautions Julie Salverson.19 All stories, Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith remind us, “emerge in the midst of complex and uneven relationships of power, prompting certain questions about production: Who tells the stories and who doesn’t? To whom are they told and under what circumstances?”20

  • 21 The La Pointe audio walk can be downloaded at http://montrealpostindustriel.ca. There is also a bo (...)
  • 22 CANAL: Walking the Post-Industrial Lachine Canal (Montreal: Centre for Oral History and Digital St (...)

17In the first year of Right to the City, with the help of a sound artist and a graphic designer who I was able to embed in the process, my students and I developed an hour-long memory-based audio walk of the neighbourhood. La Pointe is a good example of multi-media publication.21 Students had to grapple not only with whose stories made it into the walk, but how they would approach narration and the route of the walk. If the walk began at the neighbourhood’s only metro station, for example, it would signal to neighbourhood residents that it wasn’t really meant for them. As a result, we start the audio walk at the neighbourhood library and made sure that the library can lend out the booklet and mp3 players. You can download the English or French language versions from the post-industrial Montreal website as well as the accompanying booklet. Other audio walks that we have developed focus on the stories of Rwandan genocide survivors and the post-industrial transformation of the Lachine Canal.22

Illustration 2: This is the cover of the Point Saint-Charles audio walk. It pictures students in front of the neighbourhood mural on the railway embankment that divides it in two. Photograph courtesy of Steven High

Illustration 2: This is the cover of the Point Saint-Charles audio walk. It pictures students in front of the neighbourhood mural on the railway embankment that divides it in two. Photograph courtesy of Steven High

From Montreal Life Stories to the Living Archives

18Over the years, COHDS has been home to numerous collaborative projects, large and small. I will focus my comments here on Montreal Life Stories, a large-scale project funded by SSHRC’s Community-University Research Alliance program between 2006 and 2012, which focused on the life stories of Montréalais displaced by war, genocide and other human rights violations. The project included survivor organizations from the city’s Rwandan, Cambodian, Jewish, and Haitian communities as well as heritage, digital media, educational and arts organizations. Five hundred people were interviewed about their lives before, during and after the experience of mass violence over multiple sessions, ranging from 90 minutes to 20 hours each. Team members interviewed parents, grandparents, sisters, and cousins, other members of their community, members of other communities, friends and strangers. Each of these constellations resulted in a unique conversation. The project then integrated these stories into online digital stories, documentary and animated film, radio programming, art installations, live theatre performances, pedagogical materials, audio walks, a year long museum exhibition at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, and 350 Montreal metro cars were equipped with QR coded audio-portraits allowing people to listen to the stories of forced migrants on their telephones. It is more important than ever in oral history to go beyond collection and consider ways that the audio-video recordings themselves can open up spaces for dialogue, education, and societal reflection.

  • 23 A number of edited volumes were produced by the project, which were listed in an earlier footnote. (...)
  • 24 Hank Greenspan is quoted in the letter for Montreal Life Stories which Concordia nominated for the (...)

19Participants learned that there is strength in such diversity, resulting in a great deal of critical reflection which, in turn, became central themes in project monographs, edited collections, pedagogical materials, and scholarly articles.23 According to Henry Greenspan, a leading Holocaust researcher at the University of Michigan: “Even … a few years before Montreal Life Stories concluded, I considered it the best example I knew of university-community partnerships, and collaborative work more generally, reaching their fullest potential. Since then, many others have concluded that the project may be the single most authentic and successful such initiative that has ever been carried out. In oral history circles, it is spoken about with awe.”24 The project won numerous awards for research, teaching, student engagement, graduate theses, and film-making.

Illustration 3: Playback Theatre Performance with the Rwandan Community as part of Montreal Life Stories, 2011. Photograph by David Ward.

Illustration 3: Playback Theatre Performance with the Rwandan Community as part of Montreal Life Stories, 2011. Photograph by David Ward.

20The importance of the Montreal Life Stories project for the Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du Génocide des Tutsis au Rwanda (Page-Rwanda), one of our community partners, was considerable, explained member Monique Mukabalisa:

« Pour moi, ce projet a été un terrain d’apprentissage en action : apprendre comment mener une entrevue, apprendre comment être à l’écoute de quelqu’un qui me raconte une histoire qui ramène à la surface la mienne, et beaucoup d’autres, mais de rester quand même concentrée sur celui-celle qui est devant moi au moment présent ; apprendre sur ma propre histoire (celle de mon pays) et une autre façon de la transmettre. Pour mon organisme (Page-Rwanda) en même temps que pour ma communauté…, ce projet nous a laissé une richesse énorme. »

21Since its end, Page-Rwanda has continued to work extensively with the life stories recorded and has undertaken new research. For example, it is co-curating a rotating museum installation entitled “United Against Genocide” at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre in partnership with three other survivor communities (Cambodian, Armenian and Jewish). It has also initiated a series of recorded “inter-community conversations”, or focus groups, between survivors in these groups. Montreal accounts for about half of Canada’s Rwandan population, making it a key centre of the Rwandan diaspora.

  • 25 Steven High, “Au-delà du syndrome de la ‘citation payante’: Les archives vivantes et la recherche (...)
  • 26 Michael Frisch, “Three Dimensions and More: Oral History Beyond the Paradoxes of Method,” in Sharl (...)

22I would like to take the opportunity to speak to the development of the online platform Living Archives of Rwandan Exiles and Genocide Survivors, undertaken in partnership between COHDS and Page Rwanda, which responds to the wider need to develop new ways to access, share, visualize, map, listen, and analyse the recorded stories of survivors of mass violence.25 There are now hundreds of thousands of recorded testimonies of survivors archived locally and no way of accessing them easily. Generally, they sit in archival boxes or hard-drives un-listened to. The “deep dark secret” of oral history, according to Michael Frisch, is that “nobody spends much time listening to or watching recorded and collected interview documents.”26 Oral history training manuals and guides say virtually nothing about how to archive or access existing recordings (High, 2010). New tools and techniques are therefore needed. Twenty-nine Rwandan-Montrealers agreed to have their entire interviews, which were recorded as part of Montreal Life Stories, available online in the Living Archives. These interviews were then transcribed and translated so that they were available in French and English. In several cases, the interviews were originally conducted in Kinyarwanda. As we wanted this to be more than a mechanical process, the project employed more than a dozen Rwandan youth to transcribe the interviews as another way to promote inter-generational exchange. In several instances, they transcribed the interviews of family members. These transcripts were then tethered to the video recordings, allowing us to search each interview and enter the video recording when most relevant.

  • 27 We have published extensively on our digital tool development at COHDS. Steven High and David Swor (...)
  • 28 Jumayel Islam, Tension Analysis in Survivor Interviews: A Computational Approach (University of We (...)

23Building on our earlier software development experience with Stories Matter database software, which allows us to clip and index video-interviews, we developed or adapted a suite of tools that allow us to engage with these interviews in other ways.27 One of the new tools, developed by our team members at the University of Western Ontario’s Department of Computer Science and Syracuse University’s Information Studies programs, identifies the points of “tension” between the interviewer and interviewee. The process culminated in the master’s thesis of Jumayel Islam as well as a series of submitted or forthcoming articles, coauthored with his supervisors Paul Mercer and Lu Xiao as well as myself.28 As already mentioned, oral history is a dialogical source and understanding the underlying interview dynamic is crucial to understanding what is spoken and what is not. Yet oral historians have spent very little time thinking about this relationship and how it shapes the resulting life story. We spent two years developing a tool that automatically identifies the points when interviewer and interviewee seem to be working at cross purposes. More specifically, it identifies when the interviewee deflects the interviewer’s questioning and goes in a different direction, when they hesitate to go in a certain direction, or when they pull the interviewer, or boost, in a different direction. This push and pull of interviewing can tell us a great deal about people’s relationship to their stories and the ways that the interview structures the life story. You can use this tool yourself by inputting an English-language interview transcript into the tool, available on the Living Archives website.

  • 29 For more on this tool and its functionality, visit the Living Archives site: https://livingarchive (...)
  • 30 Sébastien Caquard, “Cartography 1: Mapping Narrative Cartography,” Progress in Human Geography 37, (...)
  • 31 Doreen Massey, For Space (London: Sage, 2005), introduction.
  • 32 For more on the narrative mapping methodology, and an assessment of other mapping tools, see Sébas (...)

24Another tool, still under development at the time of writing, with a beta-version released so far, is the life story mapping tool Atlascine.29 There is growing interest in maps as an analytical tool to explore the spatial dimensions of narratives, marking the emergence of hybridized practices such as literary cartography, and narrative cartography.30 Cyber-geographer Sébastien Caquard wants to go beyond turning stories into a set of place marks on a map. In life stories in particular, space (like time) is neither Cartesian nor continuous. It fluctuates with events and memories and does not always fit on the cartographic space. Maps and stories have neither the same geography nor the same temporality. As geographer Doreen Massey points out, stories cannot be represented “as points or areas on maps, but as integrations of space and time; as spatio-temporal events.”31 While it is now easy to use online locational services to map the geographic location of places geo-referenced through a gazetteer (i.e. an extended list of place names associated to geographic coordinates), the process of mapping narratives calls for the development of a proper methodology dedicated to the identification and characterization of narrative places and a dedicated set of cartographic tools that can capture not only the geographic locations of narrative places but also the meaning associated to these places, the spatiotemporal relationships between these places, as well as the connections between these places and the Euclidean space. With the tool, one can see how the interview unfolds across geographic space and what emotions are attached to places, be it for an individual or an interview collection.32 These tools promise to provide us with the ability to explore oral history interviews in new ways and at varying scales, moving us beyond the oral history transcript as our primary interpretative and search tool.

Oral History as Research-Creation

  • 33 Fred Burrill authored the audio walk Talking Violence: Oral Histories of Displacement and Resistan (...)
  • 34 Ioana Radu, “Uschiniichuu Futures: Healing, Empowerment and Agency among the Chisasibi Cree Youth” (...)
  • 35 Hourig Attarian, Shahrzad Arshadi, Khadija Baker, and Kumru Bilici, "Come Wash with Us: Seeking Ho (...)

25There are many other research-creation projects underway at COHDS that place oral history into conversation with the visual arts, photography, performance, digital media, literary studies, audio and art walking, and nursing. These are generative exchanges and intersections. Kathleen Vaughan, a textile artist and art educator, for example, has developed giant textile maps with embedded oral history audio clips. Lea Kabiljo is writing her PhD thesis in Art Education flips photo-elicitation on its head and asks how oral history can illicit photographic portraits. Fred Burrill, a housing activist and PhD student in History, has developed an audio-walk centred on recollections of the struggle against gentrification which you can listen to online or in-situ.33 Another project is exploring how the sharing of stories might change workplace culture, focusing specifically on nurses and hospital environments. It is an interesting project, as there has been very little research into what story-sharing actually “does.” For her PhD thesis, Ioana Radu used korsakow cinema database software to develop an online platform featuring her interviews on land-based healing amongst the Cree of Northern Quebec.34 Multi-media artists Shahrzad Arshadi, Hourig Attarian and Khadija Baker have developed a story-sharing performance centred on clothes washing stories. As they wash and hang their clothes, they share their own stories and invite audience members to join them in washing and sharing stories.35 And, in the most challenging of these projects, Luis Sotelo Castro, Canada Research Chair in Oral History Performance, has developed a headphone verbatim play, where actors wear visible headphones—thus breaking the 4th wall and thus the illusion that we are watching a separate reality—as they stage the stories of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. The performance provokes very strong reactions to say the least, but also productive questions. Oral historians tend to record the stories of those we admire, like, or identify with, and not those who hurt others. Yet if we are to understand why people hurt others, it is essential that we go there. One of my former PhD students, Erin Jessee, thus interviewed génocidaires in Rwanda’s prison system in order to understand why people kill. There are dozens of other projects underway that I could highlight here that are creatively exploring these in-between spaces.

Illustration 4: Contributors at the Launch of Remembering Mass Violence.

Illustration 4: Contributors at the Launch of Remembering Mass Violence.

Noelia Gravotta and Megan Webster are in the two women in the first row. I am sitting beside them with my son. Behind us (left to right) are Carole Vacher, Thi Ry Duong (and her children), and Lisa Ndejuru, the back row includes Rachel Van Fossen, Emmanuel Habimana, Ted Little, Callixte Kabayiza, Warren Linds, and Alan Wong. Photograph courtesy of COHDS.

  • 36 Noelia Gravotta and Megan Webster, “Co-Creating Our Story: Making a Documentary Film” in Steven Hi (...)
  • 37 Hourig Attarian and Rachael Van Fossen, “Stories Scorched from the Desert Sun: Performing Testimon (...)
  • 38 Nisha Sajnani, Warren Linds, Lisa Ndejuru, Alan Wong and other members of the Living Histories Ens (...)

26These cross-disciplinary and community-university collaborations have led to a great deal of experimentation in oral history writing, as differently positioned co-authors break the singular authorial voice that is still the standard in academic scholarship. To illustrate my point, I will share three examples, all originating in the Montreal Life Stories project. In their chapter in Remembering Mass Violence on a pedagogical project that led a group of high school students to produce a documentary film on the Cambodian genocide based on interviews they conducted, teacher Megan Webster, and student Noelia Gravotta, take us through the process, from each of their vantage points.36 This dialogical approach to writing is effective in extending the multi-vocality of collaborative research and co-creation into the writing process itself. For her part, Gravotta was still a high school student when she co-authored the article, a CEGEP student when the book passed peer review, and a university student when the book was launched (see photograph). The article was reproduced in the latest edition of Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson’s Oral History Reader.37 The second and third examples originate in performance-creation projects. The first of these, also in Remembering Mass Violence, is grounded in the collaboration between a playwright, Rachel Van Fossen, and the person’s whose story is being staged, Hourig Attarian. We thus hear their two vantage points, but also—interspersed in the article—are excerpts from the theatre play itself. It is an effective combination. When they presented this paper at the Remembering Mass Violence conference in 2009, they positioned the actors behind them, so their presentation was a creative hybrid of academic paper and performance. The final example, taken from an article in the Canadian Theatre Review, is based on the work of the Living Histories Ensemble, a playback theatre troupe embedded in Montreal Life Stories, that opened up story-sharing spaces with various parts of the project. Coming out of drama therapy, playback invites an audience to share a personal story to which the actors played back the story and the underlying sentiment in embodied sculpture and action. The original storyteller is then invited to respond. It is an interesting conversation between the spoken word and embodied action. Their article is true to their dialogical process.38

  • 39 Laurence Parent, "Rouler/Wheeling Montréal: Moving through, Resisting and Belonging in an Ableist (...)
  • 40 Aude Maltais-Landry. “Récits de Nutashkuan: la création d’une reserve indienne en territoire innu” (...)

27A growing number of graduate students specializing in oral history are also experimenting with the form and structure of the thesis as well as the thesis defense. Some of the best thesis defenses were those where the candidate invites interviewees to attend. During Catherine Foisy’s PhD defense, for example, there were two dozen Quebec missionaries in their 70s and 80s in the room. Laurence Parent, a disability activist whose thesis explored the ways that ablest architecture and public views have shaped the lives of the disabled in Montreal was another case in point. As Parent is in a wheelchair herself, she had to develop a unique methodology of “rolling interviews” with her interviewees, many of whom were also in wheelchairs, or had walkers, or were blind.39 The resulting defense was held at the university’s access centre, had simultaneous sign-language interpretation, and was filled with people from her community. This community presence changed the resulting defense in important ways. Others approached thesis writing in new and creative ways. Aude Maltais-Landry, for example, whose MA History thesis explored the foundational stories for the Innu community of Nutashkuan on Quebec’s North Shore, decided to have eight short story-chapters instead of the usual two, letting memory shape the structure itself.40 As Concordia does not yet allow for community peer-review in thesis examination, a community member was invited to read the thesis and provide written comments which were then read out by me during the defense. There are other such examples but I think that these few examples give you a sense of what is underway at COHDS.

Conclusion

  • 41 Elizabeth Miller, Edward Little, Steven High, Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice (Van (...)

28In my view, oral history is a site of experimentation and creativity as well as a meeting place where there is considerable cross-fertilization between methodological or disciplinary approaches and where communities are partners in research rather than mere objects of study. This creative engagement is not evidence of the weakness of oral history, as Alexander Freund would seem to have it, but its great strength. In Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice, filmmaker Elizabeth Miller, theatre practitioner Edward Little, and myself, the oral historian, narrowly defined, explore these intersections.41 After Montreal Life Stories, we wanted to know how others work in collaboration with the people they study and then go public with their work in new and creative ways. For all of these reasons then, oral history is a creative practice.

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Notes

1 For more on this, see Elizabeth Miller, Edward Little and Steven High, Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017).

2 Steven High, “‘Au-delà du syndrome de la ‘citation payante’: Les archives vivantes et la recherche réciproque en histoire orale” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 69, 1-2 (2015), 137-162; Steven High, Jessica Mills, and Stacey Zembrzycki, “Telling Our Stories/Animating Our Past: A Status Report on Oral History and New Media” Canadian Journal of Communications 37, 3 (September 2012), 1-22; and Steven High, “Telling Stories: A Reflection on Oral History and New Media,” Oral History 38 (Spring 2010), 101-112.

3 Collectively, these former graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have had an enormous international impact on oral history. Their works include: Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki, Oral History Off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Catherine Foisy and Steven High, “Un chantier à réinvestir ou à réinventer… Histoire contemporaine du Québec et sources orales”, Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 69, 1-2 (2015) pages, a special themed issue; Catherine Foisy, Au risque de la conversion. L’expérience québécoise de la mission au XXe siècle (Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017); Stacey Zembrzycki, According to Baba: A Collaborative Oral History of Sudbury’s Ukrainian Community (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2014); Lachlan MacKinnon, Closing Sysco: Industrial Decline in Atlantic Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020); Lilia Topouzova, “Remembering Belene Island: Commemorating a site of violence,” in Sarah De Nardi, Hilary Orange, Steven High, and Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Memory and Place (London: Routledge, 2019), 77-88; Karoline Truchon, “Le digital storytelling: Pratique de visibilisation et de reconnaissance, méthode et posture de recherche” Anthropologie et Sociétés 40, 1 (2016), p.125-152; Erin Jessee, Negotiating genocide in Rwanda: The politics of history (New York: Palgrave MacMillan’s Studies in Oral History series, 2017); Erin Jessee, “The Limits of Oral History: Ethics and Methodology amid Highly Politicized Research Settings.”, Oral History Review 38, 2 (2011): 287-307; Stéphane Martelly, « ‘This thing we are doing here’: Listening and writing in the Life Stories Project” in Stacey Zembrzycki et al., Beyond Women's Words: the personal, political and ethical challenges of doing feminist oral history (New York: Routledge Press, 2018), p.184-191; Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki, “Only Human: A Reflection on the Ethical and Methodological Challenges of Working with ‘Difficult’ Stories”, Oral History Review 37, 2 (2010), p.191-214; and, Alan Wong, “Conversations for the Real World: Shared Authority, Self-Reflexivity, and Process in the Oral History Interview” , Journal of Canadian Studies 43, 1 (Hiver 2009), pages.

4 See, for example, Steven High, “Storytelling, Bertolt Brecht, and the Illusions of Disciplinary History”, in David Dean, ed. A Companion to Public History (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2018); and, Steven High, “Sharing Authority in the Writing of Canadian History: The Case of Oral History”, in Michael Dawson and Christopher Dummitt, eds. Contesting Clio’s Craft: New Directions and Debates in Canadian History (New York: Brookings Institute, 2009).

5 Michael Frisch, “Three Dimensions and More: Oral History Beyond the Paradoxes of Method,” in Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and Patricia Leavy, eds. Handbook of Emergent Methods (New York: Guildford, 2008), xx.

6 Della Pollock, ed., Remembering: Oral History Performance (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005), introduction.

7 For a study of the first large-scale oral history project in Canada, see: Jean-Philippe Warren and Steven High, “Memory of a Bygone Era: Oral History in Quebec (1979-1986),” Canadian Historical Review 95, 3 (September 2014), 433-56.

8 Elise Chenier, “Oral History and Open Access: Fulfilling the Promise of Democratizing Knowledge,” New American Notes Online 5 (July 2014), www.nanocrit.com; Elise Chenier, “Privacy Anxieties: Ethics versus Activism in Archiving Lesbian History Online,” Radical History Review 2015 (122), 129-141; and, Elise Chenier, “Hidden from Historians: Preserving Lesbian Oral History in Canada” Archivaria 68 (Fall 2009), 247-270.

9 See, for example, Catherine Charlebois and Jean-François Leclerc, “Les sources orales et l’expérience du Centre d’histoire de Montréal,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique Français 69, 1-2 (2015), 99-136.

10 I have served on the advisory boards of several of these Canada-wide recognition initiatives and supported others in various ways.

11 Alexander Freund, “Under Storytelling’s Spell? Oral History in a Neoliberal Age” Oral History Review 42, 1 (2015): 96–132.

12 The Storycorps website can be found at https://storycorps.org/.

13 The website for the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling can be found at: http://storytelling.concordia.ca/.

14 These conferences resulted in a number of edited volumes and special themed issues of journals, including: Steven High, Lisa Ndejuru, and Kristen O’Hare, eds. Special Issue on “Sharing Authority”, Journal of Canadian Studies 43, 1 (Winter 2009); Steven High, Edward Little and Ry Duong, eds. Remembering Mass Violence: Oral History, Digital Media and Performance (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013); Steven High, ed. Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2015); Steven High, Lachlan MacKinnon, and Andrew Perchard, eds. The Deindustrialized World: Confronting Ruination in Post-Industrial Places (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017).

15 Steven High, “Embodying the Story: Oral History and Performance in the Classroom”, alt.theatre:

cultural diversity and the stage 9, 2 (December 2011), 50-54; and Edward Little and Steven High, “Partners in Conversation: Ethics and the Emergent Practice of Oral History Performance”, in David Dean, Yana Meerzon and Kathryn Prince, eds. History, Memory, Performance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

16 Kathleen Vaughan, Emanuelle Dufour, and Cynthia Hammond, “The ‘Art’ of the Right to the City: Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning in Pointe-St-Charles” LEARNing Landscapes 10, 1 (2016), 387-416; Cynthia Hammond, “The Keystone of the Neighbourhood: Gender, Collective Action, and Working-Class Heritage Strategy in Pointe-Saint-Charles, Montreal” Journal of Canadian Studies 52, 1 (2018), 108-148; Elizabeth Miller, Edward Little, and Steven High, Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017), chapter 2; and Piyusha Chatterjee and Steven High, “The Deindustrialization of our Senses: Residual and Dominant Soundscapes in Montreal’s Point Saint-Charles District” in Katie Holmes and Heather Goodall, eds. Telling Environmental Histories (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017).

17 Monica Eileen Patterson, “The Ethical Murk of Using Testimony in Oral Historical Research in South Africa,” in Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki, Oral History Off the Record.

18 Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (New York: Zed Books, 2012 [1999]).

19 Julie Salverson, “Performing Emergency: Witnessing, Popular Theatre, and the Lie of the Literal,” Theatre Topics 6, 2 (1996), 181-191.

20 Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith, “Venues of Storytelling: The Circulation of Testimony in Human Rights Campaigns” Life Writing 1, 2 (2004): 3-26. See also, Odette Parry and Natasha S. Mauthner, “Whose Data Are They Anyway? Practical, Legal and Ethical Issues in Archiving Qualitative Research Data” Sociology 38, 1 (2012), 139–52; and Christen Kimberly, “Does Information Really Want to Be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness,” International Journal of Communication 6 (2012).

21 The La Pointe audio walk can be downloaded at http://montrealpostindustriel.ca. There is also a booklet: La Pointe: L’autre bord de la track/ The Other side of the Tracks (Montreal: Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, 2015).

22 CANAL: Walking the Post-Industrial Lachine Canal (Montreal: Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, June 2013. http://montrealpostindustriel.ca; and, Une fleur dans le fleuve can be downloaded from the Living Archives of Rwandan Genocide Survivors and Exiles website at: https://livingarchivesvivantes.org/resources/audio-walk/. For a critical examination of the making of the Rwandan walk, see: Steven High, “Embodied Ways of Listening: Oral History, Genocide and the Audio Tour” Anthropologica 55 (2013).

23 A number of edited volumes were produced by the project, which were listed in an earlier footnote. There were also two monographs and two special issues of a journal: Steven High, L’Histoire de vie de refugiés montréalais: Une rencontre (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2018); Elizabeth Miller, et al. Mapping Memories: Participatory Media, Place-Based Stories & Refugee Youth (Concordia: COHDS, 2011), also downloadable at http://mappingmemories.ca/; Edward Little, ed. “Oral History and Performance (Part I and II)” alt.theatre – cultural diversity and the stage 9, 1 (September 2011) and 9, 2 (December 2011).

24 Hank Greenspan is quoted in the letter for Montreal Life Stories which Concordia nominated for the SSHRC Impact Award. In the possession of the author.

25 Steven High, “Au-delà du syndrome de la ‘citation payante’: Les archives vivantes et la recherche réciproque en histoire orale,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 69, 1-2 (2015), 137-162.

26 Michael Frisch, “Three Dimensions and More: Oral History Beyond the Paradoxes of Method,” in Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber & Patricia Leavy, eds. Handbook of Emergent Methods (New York: Guildford, 2008), 223.

27 We have published extensively on our digital tool development at COHDS. Steven High and David Sworn, “After the Interview: The Interpretative Challenges of Oral History Video Indexing” Digital Studies 1, 2 (Winter 2009), online; Erin Jessee, Stacey Zembrzycki, and Steven High, “Oral History’s ‘Deep Dark Secret’: Conceptual Challenges in the Development of the Stories Matter Database Software,” FQS: Forum Qualitative Social Research (2010), http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs; and, Lu Xiao, Yu Luo, and Steven High, “CKM: A Shared Analytical Tool for Large-Scale Analysis of Audio-Video Interviews,” Published Proceedings of the Big Data in the Humanities workshop at 2013 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (IEEE BigData 2013).

28 Jumayel Islam, Tension Analysis in Survivor Interviews: A Computational Approach (University of Western Ontario Master of Science: Computer Science, 2019), available at https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/5878/.

29 For more on this tool and its functionality, visit the Living Archives site: https://livingarchivesvivantes.org/tools/atlascine/ or the development site at http://develop.gcrc.carleton.ca:8040/index.html.

30 Sébastien Caquard, “Cartography 1: Mapping Narrative Cartography,” Progress in Human Geography 37, 1 (2013), 135–144; Sébastien Caquard and T. Joliveau, eds. La mise en carte des récits: outils, pratiques et réflexions, M@ppemonde, 118 & 121(2016/2017); and, S. Mekdjiian, A-L. Amilhat-Szary, M. Moreau, et al. “Figurer les entre-deux migratoires. Pratiques cartographiques expérimentales entre chercheurs, artistes et voyageurs.” Carnets de géographes, numéro ‘Entre-deux’ dirigé par Julie Le Gall et Lionel Rougé. 2014.

31 Doreen Massey, For Space (London: Sage, 2005), introduction.

32 For more on the narrative mapping methodology, and an assessment of other mapping tools, see Sébastien Caquard and Stefani Dimitrovas, “StoryMaps & Co. The state of the art of online narrative cartography,” M@ppemonde 121 (2017), 1-31; Sébastien Caquard, E. Shaw, J. Alavez, and S. Dimitrovas “Mapping Memories of Exiles: Combining Conventional and Alternative Cartographic Approaches,” in Sarah de Nardi, Hilary Orange, Steven High, Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto, eds. Routledge Handbook on Memory and Place (London: Routledge, 2019), 52-66.

33 Fred Burrill authored the audio walk Talking Violence: Oral Histories of Displacement and Resistance in Saint-Henri in 2018. https://soundcloud.com/fred-burrill/talking-violence-oral-histories-of-displacement-and-resistance-in-saint-henri.

34 Ioana Radu, “Uschiniichuu Futures: Healing, Empowerment and Agency among the Chisasibi Cree Youth” (Concordia: Humanities PhD, 2015). Her online project can be found at: http://chisasibi-healing.ca/.

35 Hourig Attarian, Shahrzad Arshadi, Khadija Baker, and Kumru Bilici, "Come Wash with Us: Seeking Home in Story", in Stacey Zembrzycki, Katrina Srigley, and Franca Iacovetta, eds. Beyond Women's Words: Feminisms and the Practices of Oral History in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Routledge, 2018);

36 Noelia Gravotta and Megan Webster, “Co-Creating Our Story: Making a Documentary Film” in Steven High, Edward Little, and Thi Ry Duong, eds. Remembering Mass Violence: Oral History, New Media and Performance, (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2013).

37 Hourig Attarian and Rachael Van Fossen, “Stories Scorched from the Desert Sun: Performing Testimony, Narrating Process,” in Steven High, Edward Little, and Thi Ry Duong, eds. Remembering Mass Violence: Oral History, New Media and Performance (Toronto, University of Toronto Press 2013).

38 Nisha Sajnani, Warren Linds, Lisa Ndejuru, Alan Wong and other members of the Living Histories Ensemble “The Bridge: Toward Relational Aesthetic Inquiry in the Montreal Life Stories Project” Canadian Theatre Review, 148, 1 (2011), 18-24. For more on playback theatre and oral history at COHDS, see Nisha Sajnani, “Coming into Presence: Discovering the Ethics and Aesthetics of Performing Oral Histories within the Montreal Life Stories Project”. alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage 9, 1 (2011), 40-49.

39 Laurence Parent, "Rouler/Wheeling Montréal: Moving through, Resisting and Belonging in an Ableist City,” (Concordia: Humanities PhD, 2019). https://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/984980/.

40 Aude Maltais-Landry. “Récits de Nutashkuan: la création d’une reserve indienne en territoire innu” (History MA, Concordia 2014). Part of her thesis was later published as “Création d’une reserve indienne en territoire innu au milieu du xxie siècle,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique Française 69, 1-2 (2015), 19-50.

41 Elizabeth Miller, Edward Little, Steven High, Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017). http://goingpublicproject.org/.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Illustration 1: The “Speed Dates with History” exercise at Share the Warmth in Point Saint-Charles. Photograph by David Ward.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afas/docannexe/image/6359/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 1,7M
Titre Illustration 2: This is the cover of the Point Saint-Charles audio walk. It pictures students in front of the neighbourhood mural on the railway embankment that divides it in two. Photograph courtesy of Steven High
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afas/docannexe/image/6359/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 1,6M
Titre Illustration 3: Playback Theatre Performance with the Rwandan Community as part of Montreal Life Stories, 2011. Photograph by David Ward.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afas/docannexe/image/6359/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 1,3M
Titre Illustration 4: Contributors at the Launch of Remembering Mass Violence.
Légende Noelia Gravotta and Megan Webster are in the two women in the first row. I am sitting beside them with my son. Behind us (left to right) are Carole Vacher, Thi Ry Duong (and her children), and Lisa Ndejuru, the back row includes Rachel Van Fossen, Emmanuel Habimana, Ted Little, Callixte Kabayiza, Warren Linds, and Alan Wong. Photograph courtesy of COHDS.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afas/docannexe/image/6359/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 553k
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Pour citer cet article

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Steven High, « Oral History as Creative Practice at Concordia University’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling »Bulletin de l'AFAS, 47 | 2021, 108-121.

Référence électronique

Steven High, « Oral History as Creative Practice at Concordia University’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling »Bulletin de l'AFAS [En ligne], 47 | 2021, mis en ligne le 31 octobre 2021, consulté le 28 novembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/afas/6359 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/afas.6359

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Auteur

Steven High

Professor of History and co-founder of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University. He is an interdisciplinary oral and public historian with a strong interest in transnational approaches to working-class studies, forced migration, and community-engaged research. He has headed a number of major research projects, most notably the prize-winning “Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and Other Human Rights Violations,” and is currently leading the transnational SSHRC-funded partnership project “Deindustrialization & the Politics of Our Time.” He has published extensively on oral history methodology, ethics and theory. See for example, Histoires de vie de réfugiés montréalais : une rencontre. Québec : Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2018.

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