We are students of a senior undergraduate course, RLG 360 South Asian Oral Histories in Peel at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Winter 2021.
This project asks: how do we make the space to tell our own stories and listen to the stories of one another? Pushing this even further, how do we make visible the stories of those whose lives have been deemed unworthy of our attentiveness—whether it’s because of their race, gender, sexuality, class, or where they live? We focus on such a community who has been deliberately made invisible in our storytelling: the South Asian community in Peel.
We investigate the histories of South Asian residents of Peel to tell the stories of people and migration, food and businesses, arts and entertainment that make Mississauga and Brampton such vibrant and multicultural spaces. By making visible these everyday stories, we build spaces for connection and community.
By tracing stories and histories in a localized and contextualized way, we are able to connect South Asians within this community to one another, and also students to the storytellers, the University of Mississauga to its community. The method of oral histories also allows us to challenge the colonial and extractive tendencies of academic research by employing a bottom-up, grassroots rather than top-down framework. Instead of coming to people with hypotheses formed, we come to the South Asian community in Peel to create new hypotheses and theories about the world, to learn from them based on their histories and stories; so as to share and archive this knowledge with and for one another. To read more about our approach, see our Statement of Learning.