Toronto Migration Memory Collective (TMMC)

Founded in November 2015, the Toronto Migration Memory Collective (TMMC) at the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University seeks to bring together scholars, archivists, artists, activists and other community members with an interest in producing and disseminating knowledge of Toronto's migrant communities and their pasts. We aim to create opportunities for sharing resources, expertise and projects; promote student and public engagement; and facilitate the preservation of primary records and artifacts by public archives and museums.

Our group is composed by:

Dr. Jennifer Bonnell, Department of History, York University
Dr. Gilberto Fernandes, (Coordinator), Portuguese Canadian History Project and Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University
Dr. Sakis Gekas, Greek Canadian History Project and Hellenica Heritage Foundation Chair in Modern Greek History, York University
Chris Grafos (PhD candidate, ABD), Greek Canadian History Project, York University
Dr. David Koffman, Department of History and Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, York University
Dr. Roberto Perin, Glendon College, York University
Dr. Gabriele Scardellato, Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies, York University
Dr. William Jenkins, Department of Geography, York University

We are currently working on:

  1. Dwelling(s) in the Past: Historical Mapping of Toronto's House Occupants. This project will research and chart aspects of all of the individuals and families who lived in a set of particular Toronto homes. The TMMC researchers choose a single address based on one known resident and her/his notable role in the life of Toronto or one of its many ethnic or religious communities from any time during the live of the structure. Researchers will set out to discover everything they can about each residential/domestic stratum of that address, from the moment the home was built until the present day. These micro-histories will later be brought together in a website that illustrates the intersection of race, class, ethnicity and religion that constantly undergird the lived reality of Torontonians throughout their city's history. The project also seeks to undercut the tendency to produce and reproduce ethnic, labour and religious histories in separate silos by foregrounding their constant interpenetration.
  2. Invisible Cities (working title). This project aims to develop a digital humanities resource, online exhibition, and a mobile application on Toronto's immigration history. This project will feature an interactive digital map with geo-tagged videos, audio, images, text and data pertaining to the histories of some of Toronto's largest migrant and ethnic groups. Our goal is to create a visual representation of these communities' mental maps of the city, along with their intersections, and compile a large data set for researchers studying not only migration and ethnicity but a range of other topics.
  3. Symposium on Migration and Ethnic Studies in the 21st Century.  This symposium will be dedicated to debating the current state of the migration and ethnic history field, with a focus on new research methods, concepts, digital tools, funding resources, archival collections and public history venues. Besides introducing the TMMC to stakeholders beyond York University, this symposium will produce a report that will inform our mission going forward, identify current challenges and solutions, and generate momentum towards larger projects, including a Toronto Museum of Immigration.
  4. Genealogy Workshop.  Scholars, professionals and community members will be invited to share resources, learn new methodologies, and consider questions at the intersection of genealogy practice and scholarship. We aim to bring together the handful of institutions around Toronto who share an interest in promoting and advancing genealogy, including the Archives of Ontario, the Ontario Jewish Archives, and the Clara Thomas Archives.

The TMMC also supports the ongoing community outreach initiatives developed by our members and their projects, which seek to create connections between York University and Toronto's migrant communities. These include: 1) locating primary records in the hands of private collectors and facilitating their transfer to public archives (i.e. Clara Thomas Archives); 2) and conducting oral history projects on Toronto's diverse linguistic communities, investigating the social and historical dimensions of language.

In line with our goals of promoting research and student engagement, the members of our Collective and their respective projects also provide experiential education opportunities for York University's undergraduate and graduate students interested in public history, migration and ethnic history, and language studies.