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La ville extraordinaire

11:00 AM, Samedi 28 Mai 2022 (20 minutes)

La ville extraordinaire is a three-year Partnership Development oral history research-creation project that aims to understand the ways in which diverse communities have shaped the city of Montreal over time. To this end, for the past year, our team has been interviewing older (broadly defined) residents of the city, including members of the Filipino-, Haitian-, and Chinese-Montreal communities, as well as less clearly delineated groups, such as older sex workers and older adults who face literacy challenges. What can be learned about architecture and the built environment, indeed, about the city from such interlocutors? What might such individuals have to teach us about heritage, conservation, and future planning? In our interviews to date, core themes have emerged around the vitality of collective identification with specific sites in the city, as well as spatial practices (such as Haitian soccer games and traditional Filipino dancing) that claim no particular built environment but which produce community space wherever they are performed. What emerges from this research is a vital, polyvalent spatial story about the city of Montreal, one which complicates the well-rehearsed settler narrative of the English and the French fighting for cultural supremacy. It also sheds light on urban sites that range from the mundane to the monumental, recasting them in the light of individual and community meaning. It also shows how, in the palace of memory, community spaces that have long since fallen to the developer’s wrecking ball remain profoundly and unequivocally alive.

Concordia University
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