Visegrad Scholarship at the Open Society Archives

Visegrad Scholarship at the Open Society Archives
Visegrad Scholarship at the Open Society Archives

Priorities for academic year 2014/15

OSA and the Visegrad Fund are inviting applicants for the 2014/2015 academic year, who are interested in working on specific aspects of the following broader research themes. All the proposed research topics are related to the diverse problems of the archive (“archive” both as a concept, a notion and idea, and “archive” as physical repositories having, intellectually interesting specificities as well).

The possible research problems:

  • The informational environment of the period of the Cold War (and the methodological consequences);
  • Available channels of information gathering in the decades of the Cold War (and comparing those channels to the ones that became available after 1989);
  • The changed perception of the status of the documentary collections from the perspective of the post-1989 period;
  • The changes of archival research and research interests in the archives after 1989;
  • The notion and specific nature of information in the Cold War;
  • Different information-collecting approaches in the Cold War (intelligence, diplomatic, clandestine, informal, semi-systematic, tapping, inferencial);
  • Comparing pre-1989 East European intelligence information gathering and activities of the Radios;
  • The evolution of the interview technique in the Cold War;
  • Public opinion research East and West during the Cold War (including audience research and reports on the “public mood” in the satellite countries);
  • Considerations on quantitative and qualitative data under the strain of limited available information;
  • Techniques of extrapolation in limited information regimes;
  • The perception of the “other” as reflected through data classification practices before 1989;
  • The impact of cybernetics on informational and archival practices;
  • The role of gathering and using information in the planning process and for social engineering purposes;
  • Juxtaposing the official, semi-official and underground information and the way they were processed;
  • The nature of the propaganda (including film) archive and its impact on (planning and manipulating) political and social processes;
  • “Manufacturing objectivity” (how archival “facts” were used in order to create the objectivity effect of information);
  • Studying the relations between different genres of documentary work, including documentary films, investigative reporting, news gathering, etc;
  • How political events and professional scholarly practices in the “real world” of the Cold War had an impact on the archival practices, the categorical changes, the perception and interpretation of the documents.
[The period of the transition of and around 1989, obviously suggests different questions: what happens with painstakingly collected information when it suddenly and unexpectedly becomes irrelevant; how the role and the function of the archives change when information considered contemporary, useable,- in daily use -  becomes archival material in an instance; the clash of different languages and classificatory categories over the transition divide; the impact of creating and opening of new informational sources; the consequences of suddenly available reality check on enormous quantities of accumulated information; etc.]

Fellows intending to work our human rights holdings should be especially attentive to the moral issues involved and the ethical implications of the exploration. Special attention should be given to the theoretical and specific questions related to information rights, information self-determination, and privacy. Unlike in the case of the Cold War archive, the primary aim of most information gathering in this field is documentation that has consequences on the creation of archival holdings.

We would like to invite fellows working on issues related to collecting evidence for forensic, legal purposes, and how these activities lead to unique archival practices and questions. Methodologies of information collecting and analysis in the human rights field does not correspond to methods and techniques used in purely historical archives. Working on the human rights materials, however, should make one attentive to specific practices in historical archives. The ethical issues that are unavoidable while working with human rights documents should make the applying prospective fellows sensitive to issues that are usually do not surface or are suppressed while working with documents of less sensitive nature.

  • Human rights materials provide a fertile ground for fellows studying the relationship and differences between recording and documenting;
  • The use and misuse of documentary work in providing evidence;
  • How the supposedly neutral nature of documenting could be a useful area of study when trying to understand the specificities of documentary activities and documentary works;
  • The connections between document and evidence, evidence and proof, historical evidence versus forensic evidence are issues that future fellows could study at OSA;
  • How to handle contradictory information coming from multiple sources by visualizing data in human rights documentation;
  • The usefulness or superfluous nature of large data sets when analyzing human rights documentation.

OSA is looking for prospective individual Visegrad fellows after their Master degree and with proven competency in the English language, ready to work on one of the listed issues, related either to the history of the Cold War or to human rights documentation. We are expecting fellows working on important issues related to the life in or from the perspective of the Archive.

Submission deadlines

  • October 10, 2014
  • January 5, 2015
  • March 10, 2015
Starting with the 2014-2015 academic year, OSA Archives would like to involve the Visegrad Scholarship at OSA fellows more closely in the ongoing research work of the Archives. The work of the fellows will not simply be supported by designated mentors at OSA, but the fellows are expected to work together with – at least – one of the researchers at the Archives. The fellows will take part in the research activities of OSA, will attend in-house seminars, and, if possible, together with other fellows will work on similar or relevant research topics. It is not necessary, the fellows coordinate their research plans with other possible fellows in advance; OSA will make proposals to selected incoming fellows how to manage effectively their work in light of the research interests of other incoming fellows. It is also expected that in case the co-operation with the research staff of the Archives proved to be promising, fellows remain in touch with both OSA and its staff members even after the conclusion of their fellowship stay. The intention is to build long-lasting working relationships, and involve former fellows in the research programs of OSA. OSA would like to take the co-operating, coordinating and mentoring role even more seriously than in the previous years.

Assessment

The Selection Committee will evaluate proposals on the strength of the professional quality and novelty of the research proposal, its relevance to the chosen topic and the involvement of the OSA holdings in the research.

Application procedure

Please submit the following to OSA:

  1. Application letter in English (should specify expected period of stay and preferred dates). Please note that the research period must end on the last day of the academic years, July 31, 2014.
  2. Research description/plan in English (about 800 words; should indicate the relationship between the current research topic, the chosen collection in the OSA holdings and the general research interest, etc.) Artists are expected to submit a portfolio, too.
  3. Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)
  4. Proof of officially recognized advanced level English language exam (if not native speaker)
  5. Names of two referees with contact address.

The Application letter, C.V., the Research description/plan, the copy of a language exam certification and the Referees’ contact information should be sent by email to Katalin Gadoros at gadoros@ceu.hu.