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Archives, Evidence and Human Rights
Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status
Course Description

The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (Blinken OSA Archivum ), 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.osa ). Blinken OSA Archivum 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. The Archivum '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. Blinken OSA
Archivum 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, the Archivum 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.

Blinken OSA Archivum offers the four 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 me mory, 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 consists of 18 core sessions ( 3 credits) and as an organic part of the course, a period for conducting individual research under supervision (1 credit) possibly on the Budapest campus. Students will have the opportunity to visit the Budapest campus during their respective research periods, and conduct their individual research in the Archivum. The core sessions (classes and workshops) will be held onsite in Vienna , and a hybrid session will be devoted to students presenting their research topics. The course is taught by a team of Blinken OSA experts: Iván Székely (social informatist, course leader), András Mink (historian), and Csaba Szilágyi (human rights archivist). The permanent home of Blinken OSA Archivum , the Goldberger House, is located in Budapest, 2,5 hours by train from Vienna, just a few blocks away from CEU’s main Budapest campus.

Learning Outcomes

− Guide students in understanding common archival goals and processes, and different
approaches to gathering and organizing information
− Develop students’ ability to find and use primary sources in their research and thesis
− Orientate students in the area of online search possibilities, especially in finding and
using trusted search engines, databases and online repositories
− Urge students to reconsider the use of recorded me mory in evaluating the moral and
legal aspects of justice making
− Challenge students to evaluate, critically approach and innovatively use different kinds
of archival documents relating to violations of human rights
− Strengthen students' ability to demonstra te an awareness and understanding of
documentary evidence in the context of human rights
− Completing the course provides a solid basis for taking the Archives and Evidentiary Practices Specialization


Grading is based on the take home essay prepared on the students’ individual r esearch topic (60% weight), as well as the quality of oral contributions to classes and workshops (10% weight), mid term presentations (10% weight), their individual research into Blinken OSA Archivum documents and individual consultations with the respect ive supervisors (20% weight).


The course includes a one week individual research at OSA, Budapest, within the departmental research period (March 18-29, 2024).

Course Level
Course Open to
Students on-site
Academic Year
US Credits
ECTS Credits
Course Code