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High, Steven. Oral History at the Crossroads: Sharing Life Stories of Survival and Displacement. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014.


Steven High’s book is on the Montreal Life Stories project, an oral history undertaking that occurred between 2005-12 which bore witness to the stories of 500 people in Montreal who were affected either personally, or due to their relatives’ or immigrant community experiences, by large scale violence in Rwanda, Haiti, Chile, and Cambodia, or in the Holocaust. “Life Stories,” not “testimonials,” were chosen to be recorded because researchers wanted participants to not only remember the event, but to focus on the impact of the event afterwards: “perspective changes from an outward act of witness to an inward reflection on the meaning derived from one’s own life journey.” (40) The book shares explicit anecdotes from the survivors, deconstructs the painstakingly thorough and reflective process of ethically collecting the evidence, and discusses the creative ways (e.g., a wide variety of digital media) through which the oral history evidence was disseminated. The Montreal Life Stories project is “part of a much longer continuum of reflection, dialogue, commemoration, and research… [it is] only part of the story.” (300)

Shannon Leggett