“En­co­ding Cul­tu­res” TEI/MEC Joint Con­fe­rence: Ope­ning Keyno­te by An­na Ki­jas

Preserving Cultural Heritage through Digital Activism and Community

Anna Kijas

Date: Tuesday, 5 September 2023, 7pm to 9pm

Location: Heinz-Nixdorf-Forum, Paderborn


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th was a wake-up call for cultural heritage professionals worldwide. For several decades, cultural institutions have engaged in digitization of cultural artifacts, in light of the invasion, however, it became clear that the servers on which these digital objects are stored are as vulnerable as the buildings which house the analog originals. Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO) is a global grassroots initiative of more than 1,500 volunteers which formed as a response to the invasion to support the digital preservation of Ukrainian cultural heritage. SUCHO began as an emergency web-archiving effort, preserving more than 50TB of cultural data from over 5,000 websites of Ukrainian museums, libraries, and archives. Since August of 2022, SUCHO, has expanded its efforts to donating digitization equipment to Ukrainian institutions, providing training, and supporting storage of and access to digitized and born-digital heritage.

In this keynote, Anna Kijas, co-founder of SUCHO, will share the story of SUCHO and explore how this initiative drew together a community of digital activists with a shared vision of ensuring that digitized and born-digital cultural heritage is pre-emptively protected in the future. She will discuss how SUCHO has promoted an ethos of community, collaboration, and open knowledge/resources amongst the volunteers, and in the relationships created with Ukrainian institutions and cultural heritage professionals. Much as World War II laid the groundwork for robust cultural heritage protection organizations that still operate today, the global cultural heritage community can learn from the invasion of Ukraine to plan for a more resilient future for digital cultural heritage protection.