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Dr. Anna Sheftel

Principal, School of Community and Public Affairs
Associate Professor, School of Community and Public Affairs

Dr. Anna Sheftel
Office: S-H 1255.01  
Henry F. Hall Building,
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 8539
Website(s): Refugee Boulevard


Dr. Anna Sheftel has a DPhil in Modern History and an MSc in Forced Migration from the University of Oxford. She did her BA at Concordia in Linguistics. Prior to her appointment at Concordia, she was an Associate Professor of Conflict Studies and Vice-Dean of the Faculties of Human Sciences and Philosophy at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Her fields of expertise are oral history of genocide, atrocity, migration and activism, as well as oral ethics and practice. She has done research projects on wartime memory in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the public testimonial practices of Holocaust survivors in Montreal, Holocaust survivors who experienced sustained socioeconomic inequality in Canada, and the migration experience of survivors after World War II. She also co-developped  a collaborative audio tour, Refugee Boulevard: Making Montreal Home After the Holocaust, which won both the 2020 Oral History Association (OHA) and Canadian Historical Association (CHA) Digital and Public History prizes. 


She has also published extensively on oral history methodology, ethics and pedagogy, with a focus on collaborative and community-engaged practices and listening to difficult stories. She is internationally recognized for these publications, most notably for Oral History Off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), co-edited with Stacey Zembrzycki, which won the OHA’s 2014 Book Award, and for her article, “Talking and Not Talking about Violence: Challenges in Interviewing Survivors of Atrocity as Whole People,” which won the OHA’s 2019 Article Award. She is active in her professional association and in her community, and she currently serves as the co-chair of OHA's Advocacy Committee. 


Currently, Dr. Sheftel is working on several projects, including: an oral history of the 2012 Québec student strike; a SSHRC-funded project about Back River cemetery as a site of memory and intercultural encounter; and a SSHRC-funded project examining the evolution of Holocaust commemoration institutions from the perspectives of Holocaust survivors themselves.

Teaching activities

Courses Taught

SCPA 352 - Community and Local Activism
SCPA 481 - Settlement and Integration
SCPA 482 - Field Placement in Immigration Studies

Research activities

Current Grants

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), $29 990, 2024-2025

Knowledge Synthesis Grant. Principal Investigator: “The Agency of Holocaust Survivors from Commemorative Activism to Interactive Holograms.”

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), $85 000, 2023-2026Insight Grant. Principal Investigator: “Cemetery as Metaphor: Stories of Jewish Migration and Settlement, Intercultural Encounters and Mourning at Montreal's Back River Memorial Gardens.”

Selected Media Coverage

“A love letter to Montreal's forgotten Jewish cemetery — in Ahuntsic-Cartierville,” cover story by Susan Schwartz, The Montreal Gazette, January 20, 2024:

“Témoignages demandés pour le cimetière Back River,” by Stéphane Desjardins, Journal des Voisins, August 2, 2022:

“Audio Tour Opens Ears to Holocaust Survivors’ Stories in Montreal,” by Rob Lurie, CTV News, September 22, 2019:

“Refugee Boulevard: New audio tour shows listeners how Holocaust survivors made Montreal Home,” CBC, September 16, 2019:

 “Audio Tour Shows How Survivors Made Montreal Home,” by Janice Arnold, Canadian Jewish News, September 16, 2019:


Selected Publications

Embracing the Mess: Reflections on Untidy Oral History Pedagogy. Special Pedagogy Section of the Oral History Review (also served as editor). The Oral History Review 46:2, 341-346.

“You Ask Making Questions, but you Don’t Give Many Answers”: Embracing the Mess in the Oral History Classroom. Special Pedagogy Section of the Oral History Review (also served as editor). The Oral History Review 46:2, 401-418.

Talking and Not Talking about Violence: Challenges in Interviewing Survivors of Atrocity as Whole People. Commissioned for special issue of the Oral History Review entitled, “Whose Voices? The Role of the Interviewer in Oral History”. The Oral History Review 45:2, 278-293, 2018.

Listening and Learning from Stories in the Digital World, in K. Srigley, S. Zembrzycki and F. Iacovetta (eds),
Beyond Women’s Words: The Personal, Political and Ethical Challenges of Doing Feminist Oral History (Oxford University Press,  2018), pp. 278-282.

Slowing Down to Listen in the Digital Age: How New Technology Changing Oral History Practice, co-authored with Stacey Zembrzycki. The Oral History Review 44:1: 94-112, 2017.  

Who’s Afraid of Oral History? Fifty Years of Debates and Anxiety over Ethics, co-authored with Stacey Zembrzycki. Commissioned for the Oral History Review Special 50th Anniversary issue. 43:2, 338-366, 2016.

Oral History Off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice,
by Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

"Questions are More Important Than Answers": Creating Collaborative Workshop Spaces with Holocaust Survivor-Educators in Montreal, co-authored with Stacey Zembrzycki, in S. High (ed), Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence (UBC Press, 2015), pp. 212-234.

"I don’t fancy history very much": Reflections on Interviewee Recruitment and Refusal in Bosnia- Herzegovina, in A. Sheftel and S Zembrzycki (eds), Oral History Off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 255-272.

Only Human: A Reflection on the Ethical and Methodological Challenges of Working with ‘Difficult’ Stories, co-authored with Stacey Zembrzycki. Oral History Review. 37:2: 191-241, 2010.

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