The Clio Prizes
Steven High, Deindustrializing Montreal. Entangled Histories of Race, Residence, and Class. McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Deindustrializing Montreal. Entangled Histories of Race, Residence, and Class is a remarkable book, written with confidence and familiarity that speaks to years of research and deep personal commitment. Exploring the intertwined trajectories of two working-class neighborhoods of Montreal – Pointe-Saint-Charles and Little Burgundy – in the second half of the 20th century, Steven High tells his story in an effort to make a difference in the telling. It sheds light on several contemporary debates, notably on the linked processes of gentrification and racial segregation. The book is the result of a vast undertaking of knowledge co-construction on the broader process of deindustrialization involving 150 interviews/oral histories, numerous engagements and workshops with members of the studied communities, and a range of other archival work. This book clearly stands out for its ambitious contribution to our knowledge of Montreal, deindustrialization and the practice of history more broadly. The reader is given a clear sense of the “river of memory,” one in which the past informs the present and where the present informs our understanding of the past. The conclusions of the book are original, often unexpected and always interesting. The rich presentation of photographs stands out for the attention to not only writing a book, but presenting a research project, one in which community as well as the historian have been engaged for many years. While the author’s voice is clear throughout, a familiar “I” that occasionally breaks into the text, the presence of community members, archival documents, fellow researchers, and students show that this is a book about learning as much as it is about teaching. And, all the while, the analysis proposed is always as rigorous as it is nuanced. Reading this book is an inspiring experience that provides a model of excellence for the future.