Recording the Present for the Sake of the Future

Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War
Panels and Discussions

This round table was part of the event Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War. The full program is available here.

On 7-8 February, three round tables brought together experts from Ukraine and across Europe and the United States to spotlight the insights gleaned from the multifaceted work of Documenting Ukraine and to explore some of the crucial thematic and methodological questions raised in the program’s initial months.

The round table on the morning of February 7 brought together scholars, archive specialists, and preservation experts who discussed the challenges and opportunities and exchanged best practice examples of preservation and archive building during war. They reflected on the importance of balancing the exigencies of the present moment with the need to build secure and lasting collections, the ethics of inclusion and exclusion, and questions of access and interpretation.

Seeking to learn from and build upon other archival initiatives that document experiences of war, this session considered the technical, intellectual, and ethical guiding principles that should govern how to manage building archives under extreme time pressure and extreme circumstances. Discussants considered ways of defining the purpose and scope of collections, who does the collecting, and what resources are needed to make collecting possible. Other questions explored included identifying whom a particular archive is intended to serve and managing access and rights.

The round table was followed by an evening event on 8 February that gave program supporters, members of the IWM community, and media the chance to hear first-hand from leading Ukrainian intellectuals and cultural figures.