Access to archival documents during and in the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic

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Access to archival documents during and in the aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic.

A petition in favour of students, scholars, archives and archivists, research centers and libraries, academic authorities, and institutional sponsors and foundations.

The pandemic affected and continues to affect all of us. It marked and upset our private lives, our friendships, and our professional work. Whether we are Masters or PhD students, post-doctoral scholars, young lecturers, or senior professors we no longer have access to most of the archives around the world. The archives are closed, the archivist’s job is at risk. Fellowships, scholarships, research-grants are postponed, frozen, or, in some cases, cancelled altogether. Strict rules that govern the budgets of institutional sponsors and foundations prevent most of us from effectively adapting to the current situation.

It is important to underscore the role of researching in archives and any center, library, or institution where primary sources are housed. In the era of fake-news, post-truth, and deep-fake, the rigorous work of historians is of crucial importance within, and more importantly, beyond, academia.

This petition has three inter-related aims: First, to persuade institutional sponsors to become more flexible and allow allocated funds that can no longer be spent on travelling to be spent on the digitization of sources.

Second, to encourage archives and centers to allocate more of their resources towards digitization, or at least towards scanning documents when a request from a scholar (or a group of scholars) is made. We are aware that the digitization of archives remains a sensitive issue within international organizations and other archives; we ask that archives and libraries take on their share of the responsibility by proposing emergency measures to facilitate researchers' access to resources. We would like to note that the payment of a given amount of money for the digitization of a document might perpetuate or even increase unfair access to archives. For this reason, archives and centers might consider applying differential rates, and/or a solidarity fee, providing more opportunity for researchers with fewer means.

Third, we believe that this system might help preserve employment for archivists and librarians, as well as their invaluable competencies.

We are seriously concerned by the loss of knowledge and competence, one of most overlooked and unanticipated consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis unfolding in its wake.

If you share our concerns, please sign this petition!

Sandrine Kott (University of Geneva), Véronique Stenger (Post-doctoral fellow, SNSF), Davide Rodogno (Graduate Institute, Geneva)

First signatories

Sandrine Kott (Professor, University of Geneva),

Véronique Stenger (Post-doctoral fellow, SNSF),

Davide Rodogno (Professor, IHEID - Graduate Institute, Geneva)

Marie Laure Salles (Directrice, IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamedou (Professor of International History, Chair of the Departement of International History, IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Jussi Hanhimaki (Professor of International History, IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Gopalan Balachandran ( Professor of International History and Politics
IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Cyrus Schayegh (Professor of International History, IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Carolyn Biltoft ( Assistant Professor of International History, IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Christoph Conrad (Professeur ordinaire, Département d'Histoire générale, Université de Genève)

Ludovic Tournès (Professeur, Département d'Histoire générale/Global Studies Institute, Université de Genève)

Gilles Grin (Jean Monnet Foundation and University of Lausanne).

Nicole Bourbonnais (Associate Professor, International History, Co-Director of the Gender Centre, HEID - Graduate Institute )

Amalia Ribi Forclaz (Associate Professor, International History, IHEID - Graduate Institute )

Irène Herrmann Palmieri (Professeure ordinaire, Département d'histoire générale, Université de Genève)

Matthias Schulz (Professeur ordinaire, Département d'histoire générale, Université de Genève)

Aidan Russell ( Associate Professor, International History, IHEID - Graduate Institute)

Denis Billotte (Secrétaire général de la Conférence universitaire de Suisse occidentale)

Dorothea Höhtker ( Historian, Research Department, International Labour Office, Geneva, Switzerland.

Matthieu Leimgruber (Professeur, Univeristät Zürich)

Martin Lengwiler (Professor, Department of History, Universität Basel)

Thomas David (Professeur, Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques, Université de Lausanne)

Janick Schaufelbuehl (Professeure associée, Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques, Université de Lausanne)

Sacha Zala ( Professeur, Directeur  Documents diplomatiques suisses (Dodis) et président de la Société suisse d’histoire)

Jean-François Fayet (Professeur ordinaire, Département d'histoire contemporaine de l'Université de Fribourg & chercheur associé au CERCEC de l’EHESS

 



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