Visegrad Scholarship at the Open Society Archives
Research theme within the Visegrad Scholarships at OSA in 2021/22
Possibilities of knowing: Truth seeking in a polarized world and [in] its aftermath
We invite applicants from the fields of history, the arts, philosophy and sociology to reflect on the conditions of knowledge production during and after the Cold War. Scholars and artists are invited to analyze the documentary practices of different agencies and persons on both sides of the Iron Curtain and assess the truth value of related documents/ artifacts.
In an era when people and academic communities are more and more divided over matters of common concern, we consider it the duty of both historians and archives to engage in a more reflexive manner with the problematic nature of records of the past. Scholars are therefore invited to take part in an academic challenge as well in a public act of providing examples of source literacy going beyond the usual categorizations such as “biased” or “subjective”. OSA collections feature as a “counter-archive”, comprising documents, used as evidence in the past [mostly Cold War] to counter allegations of authoritarian and violent regimes; doing research at OSA means not only uncovering proofs related to certain events, but also engaging in a current debate about the integrity, authority, relevance and truthfulness of sources.
Please consider the following reflexive questions when engaging with OSA collections:
- To what extent one can attempt to provide a truthful account of a historical event or problem based on the OSA collections? What do the sources highlight or obscure?
- What kind of truth regimes archives stood for in the past and what kind of investigation they can inform in the present?
- In what sense the “perspective” of the source (or the metadata connected to it) contribute to the understanding of the information it presents?
- What is the relevance of the gathered data (and metadata) for current debates and research?
We also recommend several thematic areas:
- Conceptualizing and reporting about opposition or social movements (selection and support for what counts as a "movement", "dissidence" or "non-conformism")
- Sociological data: relevance of polls, surveys and statistics during socialism and after
- Circuits of communication and (anti-)propaganda techniques: information gathering and classification, textual and visual dissemination (book programs, samizdat, TV monitoring, instructional and documentary movies)
- Problems of documentation and verification of human rights abuses
- Representation and assessment of socio – economic issues: labor, standards of living, urbanization, education, religion
- Science and ideology: considerations regarding expert claims, efficiency, impact
- Intellectual debates in a polarized world and their aftermath
- Consequences of Cold War conceptual schemes and treatment of information on current economic and socio-political issues
- Reflection on the (Cold War) receptions, instrumentalizations and revisions of the history and the notion of the Revolution.
- The issue of historical credibility in Cold War archives