The Gagarin Center at Bard College and PEN America Establish Russian Independent Media ArchiveANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— The Gagarin Center at Bard College is partnering with PEN America to launch the Russian Independent Media Archive (RIMA), a project that aims to preserve the last two decades of independent Russian journalism, an irreplaceable historical record at risk of erasure as Russian media outlets not aligned with the regime of President Vladimir Putin are shuttered and their reporters and editors are cast into exile. The project is inspired by Masha Gessen, Bard faculty member and trustee of PEN America, a nonprofit organization that works to defend free expression worldwide through the advancement of literature and human rights, and made possible with the support of Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust, advised by PEN America trustee Peter Barbey.
Launched with the content from more than a dozen outlets and a half-million entries, the digital archive will include over 519,000 documents from more than 70 independent national, regional, investigative and cultural news outlets published since President Putin took office in 2000. The archive will make the journalism of this pivotal period accessible to the reporters, historians, political scientists and other researchers whose work counters propaganda-driven manipulation of Russia's historical narrative. The archives may be viewed here.
The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which contributes to archiving and securing data from Russian media and provides technical consultations, is also collaborating on the project. With the support of the Mass Media Defence Center, PEN America is entering into licensing agreements with participating outlets to protect their copyright while the archive serves as a secure home for the content.
On April 14, 2023, RIMA will host Digital Tools for Justice and Understanding, a roundtable discussion on research, investigation, and activism. The event will serve as the finale of the conference Life in the Face of War: Political Challenges, Social Responses, Cultural Shifts, presented by the Gagarin Center at Bard College, the Bard College Center for Civic Engagement, and the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. Moderated by Ilya Venyavkin from the Russian Independent Media Archive project, panelists will include Masha Gessen of Bard College, Anna Nemzer of RIMA, and Christo Grozev of Bellingcat Project.
RIMA will also be highlighted at the PEN America World Voices Festival in May. Featuring more than 100 writers from 27 countries, the 2023 festival will celebrate great writing and the power of storytelling against the current headwinds of attacks by those who seek to censor and silence.
The Gagarin Center for the Study of Civil Society and Human Rights at Bard College allows Russian scholars to continue to pursue research and educational activities focused on contemporary social, economic, and human rights issues. The Center was formerly part of Smolny College, a liberal arts program created in 1994 at Saint Petersburg State University in close collaboration with Bard College. Russia’s first liberal arts college, Smolny offered a dynamic dual-degree program from which graduates earned both SPSU and Bard degrees. The collaboration was considered to be the most extraordinary partnership of its kind, providing more than 120 student exchanges and tens of faculty exchanges each year and serving as a beacon for liberal arts education. The Center now partners with Smolny Beyond Borders, an educational initiative for faculty and students who left Russia and the surrounding region due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and risk of political persecution. Supported by the Andrew Gagarin Trust, the Center continues to offer research on vital issues, public programming, and serves as a venue for the critical exchange of ideas.
About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year, residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 parklike acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in more than 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 11 programs; nine early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 163-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
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