The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA), an organizational unit of CEU, is an international archival, research and educational institution committed to collect, preserve, provide open access to and actively interpret records on recent history, and human rights movements and violations (www.osaarchivum.org). OSA is also the records management provider for and the final repository of the historic records of the Central European University and the Open Society Foundations. OSA's holdings, coming from three dozen countries in over 30 languages and in all media and formats, are frequently used in its public programs, including physical and virtual exhibitions, film screenings, artistic performances, as well as lectures, workshops and seminars. OSA organizes yearly the Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.
In an effort to find innovative ways of archiving and making records as widely available as possible, OSA developed and promotes a new, collaborative and distributed digital archival model which relies primarily on its users in the archiving process and research as well, and engage its community of researchers into professional dialog, thus facilitating critical approach to the documents.
OSA offers the three-credit course Archives, Evidence and Human Rights to the Human Rights Program of the Legal Studies Department, cross-listed to the History Department. The course seeks to attract students with different backgrounds, working on topics related to recorded memory, historical analysis and representations of oppressive regimes, and retroactive justice. The multidisciplinary course includes an introduction to the history and philosophy of preserving recorded memory and gives an overview of the basic functions and types of modern human rights archives. It further aims at analyzing the legal and ethical problems of using human rights documents containing personal data, as well as basic provisions of archival and information law. Case studies illustrate the problems of using and evaluating evidence on mass atrocities, the historical, ethical, and legal aspects of making justice for past abuses and the difficulties of making state leaders liable for human rights violations. New methods of (re)creating historical/human rights narratives from diverse archival sources are introduced, along with innovative digital systems of managing human rights information. The course also explores practices of memorializing grave human rights violations in the archival space. In addition, students gain skills in doing archival research and handling archival documents in practice.
The course is taught by a team of OSA experts: Iván Székely (social informatist, course leader), András Mink (historian), and Csaba Szilágyi (human rights archivist). The venue is the permanent home of OSA, the Goldberger House, located just a few blocks away from CEU’s main Budapest campus.