Promenade Parlante: Episodes in a Changing City

Years active: 2018-19 

Project description: How can oral history and oral history research-creation help to build a more inclusive – and creative – public history in the city of Montreal? How might older residents of the city be empowered to employ oral history research-creation methods, with a view to encouraging their own, creative representation of their memories for a public audience? For this project, COHDS core affiliates Dr Cynthia Hammond (project leader), Dr Shauna Janssen (Concordia Research Chair in Performative Urbanism) and Eric Craven (Community Outreach Librarian, Atwater Library) collaborated with the creators of the Living History oral history initiative – all seniors with an avid interest in the downtown Montreal neighbourhood of Shaughnessy Village. Working together for one year, the team produced two public art walks through Shaughnessy Village, one in October 2018 and the second in April 2019. During these walks, the spectator/participant encountered a series of performative “episodes” at different sites along the way. The seniors who took part in our project produced these episodes, drawing from their own memories of the neighbourhood, and the memories of other, older individuals that they interviewed for their research. The seniors chose to focus on themes related to decolonizing the neighbourhood, the role of Scottish settlers in creating the Atwater Library, the importance of Shaughnessy House, and the way that “urban development” has led to many changes to the neighbourhood, including irreparable losses, over time. Promenade Parlante involved many COHDS affiliates, including Wendy Allen, Shahrzad Arshadi, and Mélanie Binette, Alex Tigchelaar,. and Kathleen Vaughan. Promenade Parlante was funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Partnership Engage program, and special funding from Concordia’s Office of Research related to the Oral History Association conference that was held at Concordia/COHDS in 2018.