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Working at the intersections of Oral History and Black Community Archives


Mercredi, octobre 28, 2020 - 12:00 to 14:00


Speakers: Steven High, Autumn Beals, Kelann Currie-Williams, Désirée Rochat.

Chairperson: Sean Mills.

12h00-14h00 EST

(English language panel with bilingual discussion) 

The proposed 120-minute round-table panel of COHDS-affiliated faculty and students, chaired by Canada’s leading postcolonial scholar of Montreal’s history, will explore the intersections of oral history and community archives with regard to Montreal’s Black history. Too often, the history of Montreal is told from a white ethno-centric perspective that renders the history of Black Montrealers, when mentioned at all, as a footnote in someone else’s history. Oral history and Black community archives offer us the opportunity to re-centre Black Lives and reimagine Montreal’s history. Black diasporic communities are built over time as people develop relations, shared references, and collective memories. The four panelists will speak to their work for 15 minutes each, leaving plenty of time for questions and conversation.



Sean Mills is a professor of history and the prize-winning author of The Empire Within, a study of 1960s activism in Montreal, as well as A Place in the Sun, a history of Quebec’s Haitian community.

Désirée Rochat is a community organizer and educator who authored Histoire et culture de la diaspora caribéenne au Québec. She is completing her PhD on the ways that community archives can support the memory work of Black community organizations like the Maison Haiti. By connecting Haitian activists’ knowledge and memories to the documents they produced through their work, the presentation will highlight how their shared praxis evolved and eventually forged a community.

Kelann Currie-Williams is a Montreal-based visual artist, writer, and interdisciplinary master’s student focusing on the English-speaking Black community’s history of image-making and image preservation. Her research combines oral history and photographic archival traces.

Autumn Beals is a fourth-year undergraduate student, currently enrolled in the Honours Public History program. Her academic interests and work focus on the intersectionality of race, sexuality and gender in the social and cultural histories of marginalized communities in nineteenth to twentieth century North America.

Steven High is a professor of history who is completing a book on the intersections of race and class in two neighbourhoods in Montreal’s Sud-Ouest. His presentation will consider what oral history interviews undertaken over the past forty years in Little Burgundy reveal about the history of structural racism in the city.


In order to accommodate social distancing, all of COHDS/ALLab events will be held online.

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Concordia University