The Open Society Archives (OSA) is the official repository for the Central European University and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and over the past several years, while we have been collecting records for the CEU and OSF organizational archives, OSA has been selecting the digital copies of any OSF Roma-related program materials, including grant and some scholarship files. OSA has begun an exciting, experimental information processing and retrieval project that we are calling the Roma Digital Repository Project (RDRP).
Blinken OSA colleagues meet Pál Ferenczi, who spent a year in Mauthausen with Leó Goldberger, former owner of the Goldberger House, our archives’ home at Arany János Street 32. Text by Gwen Jones, Judit Izinger and Zsuzsa Zádori.
OSA is honored to announce public access to the first portion of the Free Europe Committee (FEC) compilation of Cold War digital records. These 8,100 digital files were first available on November 3, 2015, for researchers only and covered the period of FEC activities from 1960-1964. OSA has only uploaded, this first chunk of a total database of 35,000 encrypted messages taking up 22 microfilm reels, ranging from 1960-1970.
We closed down our first thematic public program on Surveillance only a few days ago. The event series was opened with the exhibition Watching You, Watching Me in early October 2015. It was curated by our OSF NY colleague, namely Yukiko Yamagata to raise a series of recent issues in our post-panoptical societies through the gaze of the artist-photographer.
November 4th, at the third event of the Secret Police Film Festival, organized by my Blinken Open Society Archives colleague, Zsuzsa Zádori, we watched 4 incredibly interesting films about the political and social situation in Poland in the late 1960s to mid-1970s. The first three were primarily about surveillance techniques used by the Polish secret police. In the first film, footage of the U.S.
Archiving and records management (ARM) professionals are often considered to preserve the past rather than shape the future. The 3rd International Council on Archives (ICA) named, Archives: Evidence, Security and Civil Rights , revealed that ARM professionals are equally responsible for designing current policies and future change as they are for preserving the memories.
Public space, where culture, politics and art can happen, all together.
Cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict was assigned to do a study of the Japanese character in June 1944 which happened to be the same moment of the US-led offensive against Japan.  Despite the fact that at that time Japan was considered to be the most alien enemy the United States had ever fought in an all-out struggle, a military or economic analysis would not have been enough. At stake was the understanding of Japanese habits of thought and emotions .
I have been asked to write about my experience of reading Information Items in the RFE Collection’s Polish Unit in OSA, and I would like to discuss the biggest difficulty I encountered in the process; a feature of the documents which can playfully be called reversed jamming or distorted polyphony.  Without being long-winded about my particular research aims, I was trying to learn something about students in 1970s Poland from the items produced specifically about students. Why was that so hard? The Items are documents produced from casual conversations between an RFE analyst and ‘the source.’ The source is often enigmatic; sometimes it is an unidentified respondent who claims to know the attitudes of youth, but more often it is a student from the University of Warsaw on an exchange in a Western city where RFE’s field offices were located. Direct letters from students to the editors are few and far between in the series. The typical Item begins with the formula nasz rozmowca twierdzi (the source tells us…) followed by a statement about their specific experience as a student in Poland, or their impressions from the West, their political views, and so on. Often, this precedes a variant of the formula ogolnie sie mowi w Polsce (generally, in Poland it is said/thought that…). At this point, the reader encounters polyphony. It becomes less clear who is speaking: the interviewer or the subject. In most cases, neither is presumably qualified enough in sociology to make a sweeping statement about youth opinions across the country. Is the analyst speaking through or for the source? Is the source speaking to the analyst? Often, the generalized statements about public opinion are backed by a second iteration of ‘nasz rozmowca twierdzi,’ in which case it appears that the source speaks with the analyst, without knowing it. The syntax of the finished Item leaves the reader exasperated as to whether s/he is reading the testimony of the respondent, or the stereotypes of the analyst, or the latter loosely supported by the former, or a fusion of the two.