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Global Social Responses to Covid-19 Web Archive (Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation)

About the Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union Section

The Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union section (still very much in development) is curated by Lunja Jeschke (Bavarian State Library), Thomas Keenan (Princeton), Brendan Nieubuurt (University of Michigan), and Anna Rakityanskaya (Harvard).

The part of the archive devoted to Eastern Europe and the territories of the former Soviet Union captures a variety of social responses to the COVID19 crisis across this vast and diverse post-Soviet and post-socialist space. The content preserved here documents instances of artistic and cultural expression unique to the COVID19 era (in form, content or both), and spontaneous social responses and improvised social structures that have arisen as established governmental, institutional, and commercial structures fail and stop serving a community’s needs, whether because the exigent circumstances prevent those structures from functioning, through willful ignorance or indifference, or some combination thereof. These websites and pages are the documents of improvised mobilizations to meet the urgent needs — subsistence, security, psychological, social, cultural — of communities suddenly bereft of the traffic and institutions that define them. Examples include mobilization of therapists to provide psychological support to front-line medical personnel; not-for-profit enterprises using 3D printers to produce Personal Protective Equipment for those same medical personnel; seasons of theatrical productions migrating to series of free-of-charge online performances that ask grateful spectators to donate what they can to support medical personnel and other vulnerable community members; artwork displayed in home windows and “balcony galleries;” design and printing of cards thanking essential workers and acknowledging the risks they assume in order to keep communities and their economies alive; religious and cultural ceremonies and rituals remediated via digital technology; social and cultural gatherings in cyberspace; and artistic works indulging a need for levity and humor, including works of caricature and satire occasioned by perceptions that particular figures and institutions have abandoned or failed a community. Also represented are converse impulses for insistence on preservation of the status quo: COVID denial, conspiracy theories, resistance to measures to contain the spread of the virus, and promotion of economic interests above public health interests and above communal responsibility for the vulnerable.


The community of active contributors is wider than the curatorial team, and includes Bogdan Horbal (New York Public Library), Ksenya Kiebuzinski (University of Toronto), Liladhar R. Pendse (University of California-Berkeley), and Gudrun Wirtz (Bavarian State Library).