Blinken OSA at CEU’s Invisible University for Ukraine

Screenshot from the mentoring session of IUFU

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has been raging for more than five months by now. In these circumstances, expressing solidarity as well as professional and academic support to Ukrainian students, scholars, and researchers threatened by the military invasion remains to be an important objective at CEU and Blinken OSA. One such initiative the Archives has joined and worked on since it was launched by CEU in May 2022 is the certificate program for junior and senior undergraduate students from Ukraine, the Invisible University for Ukraine. Colleagues from the Archives were actively teaching and mentoring in the program that was designed as a pilot for students and scholars at risk.

The IUFU program’s first semester consisted of a two-month lecturing and mentoring phase (May–June 2022) and a week-long summer school in July 2022.

Within the core program, István Rév (CEU Professor, Director at Blinken OSA) gave a lecture for the HISTORY track titled “Overcoming the Past.” The IUFU HISTORY track (Symbolic Geography, Contested Identities, and Mass Violence: Ukrainian History in European Contexts) was focusing on questions of reshaping the symbolic geography of Europe, the comparative studying of Communist and post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe, as well as political violence and memory politics.

Oksana Sarkisova (Research Fellow at Blinken OSA, Director of Verzió International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival) gave two lectures for the CULTURE/HERITAGE track. Her class focused on the role of visual imagery in the construction and circulation of historical narratives. The IUFU CULTURE/HERITAGE track dealt with memory cultures and urban heritage management, cultural diplomacy and art, audiovisual studies, and new media documenting resistance.

Anastasia Felcher, (Archivist of Slavic Collection at Blinken OSA) was involved in mentoring students from the CULTURE/HERITAGE track. A group of IUFU students took part in weekly Zoom sessions co-mentored by Felcher, Elżbieta Kwiecińska, and Sofia Dyak. The mentoring sessions offered a platform for students to discuss both the topics covered at the lectures and their own projects. The three mentors also organized workshops on politics of memory and curatorial challenges in newly launched museums across Central Europe.

In July, the CEU IUFU program continued with the summer school program titled Making Ukraine Visible – Images, Narratives, Institutions, which took place from July 10–19, 2022, in the CEU complex in Budapest and in Lviv. The aim of the summer school was to reflect on “how Ukrainian culture, identity, and institutional practices can be valorized in the global discussion and how resilient civic and academic organizations can be created and maintained in the face of different threats, coming from external oppression, or from dysfunctional, hybrid or openly authoritarian regimes.” The program was co-organized by diverse faculty, including professors from ELTE University Budapest, the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, and CEU’s Democracy Institute, History Department, and Legal Studies Department Program.

During the summer school, István Rév gave a lecture on memory politics and archives titled “Tracing the History of the Competitive Victimhood Epidemic.” He argued that while victimhood was a social stigma before the last decades of the 20th century, as a result of both medical developments and social movements, victims acquired quasi-honorable social status after 1980. The lecture attempted to trace the history and development of these momentous changes. Oksana Sarkisova moderated a workshop with film director Kateryna Gornostai (Kyiv), whose film Stop-Zemlia (2021) was screened as part of the program. The workshop focused on the methods of contemporary documentary cinema, and the crosses between documentary and fictional approaches.

During the program series, the IUFU students also visited the Blinken OSA repository, guided by Csaba Szilágyi (Chief Archivist and Head of Human Rights Program at Blinken OSA).