RSC College Member Steven High – Professor and Canada Research Chair in Public History (Tier 2), Department of History
Steven High established the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia in 2006. It facilitated the major collaborative research project, Montreal Life Stories, investigating the life stories of survivors of mass violence.
“But it isn’t enough to just collect people’s stories,” insists High, who has authored numerous award-winning publications exploring economic, social and cultural displacement in 20th century North American and the Caribbean. “You have to bring those stories into the public realm and connect people. Our project did that. We built it into the process, through partnerships with the National Film Board and theatre companies and animators.”
High is honoured to become a RSC College member, representing Concordia with his colleagues. “I’m extremely proud to be at Concordia, because of its long history of engagement with the wider community,” he says. “The appointment is wonderful validation in terms of the wider work we’re doing with our Centre. Our Centre is unique because most of our 150 affiliates work on community-based projects and we have an ethic of ‘learning with’ and sharing authority. Oral history brings things down to the individual and humanizes. It’s easy to hate people you don’t know. Oral history is a process of re-humanization.”
The College is particularly interesting to High as a rejuvenating force for the RSC. “It’s pivoting toward mid-stream scholars at the peak of their careers,” notes High. “That will have a transformative effect, bringing new energy to the academy.”