UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Steven High, University of Concordia, Canada

The art of going public: participatory practice in arts and humanities

17 June - 21 June 2018

Steven High profile pictureBiography

Steven High is Professor of History at the University of Concordia, Canada. He is an interdisciplinary oral and public historian with a strong interest in transnational approaches to working‐class studies, forced migration, community‐engaged research, oral history methodology and ethics, and living archives. He has published extensively on deindustrialization and onthe post‐industrial transformation of North American cities, including most recently One Job Town: Work, Belonging and Betrayal in Northern Ontario (2017). His second area of expertise relates to oral history methodology and ethics, particularly as it relates to oral accounts of mass violence.

Steven High led the prize‐winning Montreal Life Stories from 2005 until 2012, where he worked in partnership with survivors of violence in the recording of 500 life stories. His monograph on this project, Oral History at the Crossroads (UBC, 2014) which won the Clio prize for best book published on Quebec history. The subsequent Going Public project brings a range of socially engaged practitioners involved in theatre, film, new media and history into conversation to explore the political, aesthetic and performative dimensions of their work. This has resulted in Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice with Liz Miller and Ted Little (2017).


Professor High works at the cutting edge of multidisciplinary participatory research. At the heart of his work as an oral historian is engagement and innovative collaboration with community groups. This Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professorship will bring him into dialogue with Bristol scholars at all career stages working on co-production in the arts, humanities and social sciences. This visit will feed into the work of the Brigstow Institute, and inform our developing thinking in the University around engagement, impact and community engagement.

During his stay in Bristol Professor High will be hosted by Professor Josie McLellan (History) and will be giving the following lectures/seminars (dates tbc):


Gabriel Solano and the Crisis in the American Working Class: An Oral History Journey.
Monday June 18, 11am, Verdon-Smith Room, Royal Fort House BS8 1UH

Co-hosted by the Faculty of Arts Oral History cluster.

Followed by a workshop on Steven’s work at Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Story Telling. Lunch will be provided: please email Josie.McLellan@bristol.ac.uk to register.

Post-industrial walking tour, co-hosted by the Faculty of Arts Urban Humanities cluster. 
Tuesday June 19, 1pm.

Meet outside Harts Bakery (BS1 6QS) for a 2 hour walk around some of Bristol’s derelict and post-industrial sites. We’ll be thinking about parallels with Steven’s work on deindustrialisation. Please email Josie.McLellan@bristol.ac.uk for a copy of the reading. Open to all.

Open lecture: 'Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice'
Thursday June 21, 4pm, room 4.10, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

Hosted by the Brigstow Institute

This lecture will draw on conversations with over thirty researchers and artists across multiple cultures and disciplines, to examines the ways in which oral historians, media producers, and theatre artists use art, stories, and participatory practices to engage creatively with their publics. As researchers are increasingly taking their research from the campus to the public arena, what are the ethics of, and expectations for, social impact? And how do new technologies, platforms, and methods challenging community‐engaged artists, academics, and media makers to rethink their approaches to collaboration.

Sign up here: https://steven-high-lecture.eventbrite.co.uk

Masterclass. Open to all, but particularly directed at History department, graduate students, and the Faculty Oral History Research Cluster:
This masterclass will centre on an in‐depth discussion of the Montreal Life Stories project. This groundbreaking project raises very significant questions about oral history methodology, the co‐production of research with community groups, and the use of digital technology to record, store and disseminate research findings. Participants will be encouraged to read extracts from Oral History at the Crossroads in preparation for the masterclass.