Un/Archiving Post/Industry

The project implemented by the Center for Urban History and the University of St Andrews in partnership with Mariupol Local History Museum, Pokrovsk Historical Museum, and Donetsk Regional Museum of Local History, supported by the House of Europe and the Global Challenges Research Fund.

Industrialization is a key storyline of today. Industry and its legacies and post-histories have been shaping the spaces of Ukrainian cities, lifestyles, and economic relations.

However, the industry can generate not only cast iron, coal, or machinery, but also cultural images of itself – through culture institutions, such as centers of culture, factory newsletters, museums, hobby groups, and photo labs at factories.

The media, such as photos or videos, managed to create images of committed workers and engineers, production success and achievements. But the media were also vehicles beyond the monopoly of institutions: an increasingly more democratic photo and video cameras in the 20th century were used for hobbies, creativity, and socializing, in their families, among friends and work colleagues, and among photo amateurs from different cities.

The 1990s economic transformation processes resulted in the fragmentation, and even loss of archives, both institutional and private. At the same time, rapid destruction of industrial buildings, redevelopment of industrial areas into housing and office facilities, and transformation of plants into creative hubs (more often) generated the feeling of loss, and the demand and readiness to preserve what is left as post-industry and makes its cultural post-history.

That is why the "Un/archiving post/industry" project was born to collect the surviving materials and create the digital archives illustrating the work, leisure, space, and architecture, some exceptional events and everyday life of industrial cities, plants and factories, and individuals at work and at home.

The project has an objective to establish a dialogue between generations (through interviews with former workers, engineers, photographers and video amateurs that captured the industry), between different regions (that are stereotypically believed to be industrial, or not), between museums and archive owners, between Ukrainian and international researchers, artists, and activists.

In spring, 2020, the project was granted funding from the House of Europe, in summer, 2020 – the co-funding was added from the Global Challenges Research Fund. In the project, we digitize photos, videos, and audio. All materials are published online in the Urban Media Archive and are available for researchers and anyone interested. In parallel, we run the research of cultural infrastructure around industry through archival search and interviews with former workers, photographers and video amateurs. In July 2021, we plan to run a summer camp with artists and researchers to give collections the “second life.” The project is planned to result in an exhibition that will be traveling to the partner institutions.

The digitized collections include:

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