Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and other Human Rights Violations was an oral history project exploring Montrealers’ experiences and memories of mass violence and displacement. A team of both university and community-based researchers was in the process of recording life story interviews with more than 500 Montreal residents over the course of the next five years. lifestoriesmontreal.ca/en/about-the-project.html
As argued by a growing body of scholars interested in “deep mapping”, there is a broad recognition of the importance of mapping stories for understanding places. What is less clear is how to turn these stories into maps. This project focuses on the multiple methodological and conceptual challenges raised throughout the process of turning highly personal and emotional life stories into abstract databases in order to map them.
Concordia University’s Centre for oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) and the Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du genocide des Tutsis au Rwanda (Page-Rwanda), representing survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide now living in Montréal, are in the process of building an online life stories platform for interviews with 31 survivors. Too often, sharing authority begins and ends with the interview or the field work. We need to consider how to collaborate with originating communities in the development of new tools and platform. The resulting « living archives» will enable people to engage with personal story in new and creative ways.