Historians turn to archives for historical evidence, the availability of which is not to be taken for granted. In many cases, archival practice excludes a significant part of documentation from archival solicitation.1 This can be applied to the history of the samizdat documents, which were excluded from the long-term preservation policy of state archival authorities in the Soviet bloc countries. At the same time, the singularity of the historical context that had motivated the emergence and spread of samizdat also engendered the peculiar logic of its circulation. A significant share of samizdat documents were smuggled out of the communist countries to the West, ending up in numerous organizations and private collections abroad. The dispersed character of samizdat archival sources has a negative effect on the quality of research in this area. One of the main objectives of the International Samizdat [Research] Association is to find and work out possible solutions to overcome the decay of samizdat materials both physically and “virtually”—in the collective memory of the present and for the cultural memory of future generations.
Olga Zaslavskaya; From Dispersed to Distributed Archives: The Past and the Present of Samizdat Material. Poetics Today 1 December 2008; 29 (4): 669–712. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-081
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