Beyond Testimony and Trauma

9780774828925: Hardback
Release Date: 15th March 2015

9780774828932: Paperback
Release Date: 1st November 2015

9780774828949: PDF
Release Date: 15th March 2015

9780774828956: EPUB
Release Date: 15th March 2015

7 photographs

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 388

Series Shared: Oral and Public History

UBC Press

Beyond Testimony and Trauma

Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence

Edited by
Steven High
By challenging the ways that survivors of mass violence are typically understood as either eyewitnesses to history or victims of it, the contributors to this volume ask us to go “beyond testimony” to embrace sustained listening and collaborative research design.
Hardback / £85.00
Paperback / £33.00
PDF / £32.00
EPUB / £32.00

Survivors of terrible events are often portrayed as unsung heroes or tragic victims but rarely as complex human beings whose lives extend beyond the stories they have told. The contributors to Beyond Testimony and Trauma consider other ways to engage with survivors and their accounts based on valuable insights gained from their work on long-term oral history projects. While the contexts vary widely, they demonstrate that through deep listening, long-term relationship building, and collaborative research design, it is possible to move beyond the problematic aspects of “testimony” to shine a light on the more nuanced lives of survivors of mass violence.


Part 1: The Political Work of Witness

1 The Ex-Disappeared in Post-Dictatorship Argentina: The Work of Testimony and Survivors at the Margins / Ari Gandsman

2 Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will: Engaging with the “Testimony” of Injured Workers / Robert Storey

3 The Ethics of Learning from Rwandan Survivor Communities: Critical Reflexivity and the Politics of Knowledge Production in Genocide Education / Lisa Taylor, Umwali Sollange, and Marie-Jolie Rwigema

4 The Role of Oral History in Surviving a Eugenic Past / Robert A. Wilso

Part 2: Working with Survivors

5 From Testimony to Recounting: Reflections from Forty Years of Listening to Holocaust Survivors / Henry Greenspan

6 Collaborative Witnessing and Sharing Authority in Conversations with Holocaust Survivors / Carolyn Ellis and Jerry Rawicki

7 Sharing “A Big Kettle of Soup”: Compassionate Listening with a Holocaust Survivor / Chris Patti

8 “Questions Are More Important than Answers”: Creating Collaborative Workshop Spaces with Holocaust Survivor-Educators in Montreal / Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki

9 On Tour with Mapping Memories: Sharing Refugee Youth Stories in Montreal Classrooms / Michele Luchs and Elizabeth Miller

Part 3: Acts of Composure and Framing

10 Economic Violence, Occupational Disability, and Death: Oral Narratives of the Impact of Asbestos-Related Diseases in Britain / Arthur McIvor

11 The Frames We Use: Narratives, Ethnicity, and the Problem of Multiple Identities in Post-Conflict Oral Histories (Bosnia-Herzegovina) / Catherine Baker

12 Memories of Departures: Stories of Jews from Muslim Lands in Montreal / Yolande Cohen, Martin Messika, and Sara Cohen Fournier

13 Finding Meaning in Oral History Sources through Storytelling and Religion / Marie A. Pelletier

Afterword / Henry Greenspan


Steven High is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Oral History at Concordia University in Montreal. He co-directs the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling and was principal investigator of the Montreal Life Stories Project, a community-university research alliance that recorded the life stories of Montrealers displaced by war, genocide, and other human rights violations. He is the author of a number of books including Oral History at the Crossroads: Sharing Life Stories of Survival and Displacement (2014) and the co-editor of Remembering Mass Violence: Oral History, New Media and Performance (2013).

Beyond Testimony and Trauma makes a profound contribution to our understanding of the telling of stories of mass violence. It is provocative, timely, and extraordinarily valuable.

Daniel Kerr, Public History Program, Department of History, American University