Russia’s war against Ukraine has already inflicted unthinkable suffering, with tens of thousands of people dead, wounded or missing, millions displaced, and untold numbers affected by this humanitarian crisis. In the face of so much loss of life and livelihood, potential losses in the realms of culture and scholarship may seem trivial. While humanitarian aid and peace work should take precedence, it is also important to recognize the cat astrophic consequences of the war on art and scholarship in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. In Ukraine, the war presents an immediate, material danger to artists, scholars, and the fruits –– material or digital –– of their labors. In Russia and Belarus, critical cultural and scholarly work is under threat from censorship, the forced closure of opposition media outlets, laws banning opposition to the war, a rising wave of arrests and criminal sentences, and the potential for partial or total disconnection from the global internet. A future in which new meaning can be constructed from these realms may be remote, but for that future to have a chance, this work must survive the present moment.
For Future Use is a digital archive for at-risk manuscripts, artworks, and other unpublished creative or intellectual work by those affected by the war. The unpredictable, rapidly developing situation in Ukraine and Russia has made it difficult to assess risk. Artists and scholars may suddenly lose access to physical or digital storage. For their own safety, they may need to delete materials stored on phones and computers. For Future Use aims to provide safe, professional, archival protection for culturally and intellectually significant materials. A team of editor-scholars and digital archivists is working to acquire and project these materials. Authors can designate the terms according to which they provide or deny access to their archives, so that they can use the archive for a variety of purposes: secure back-up storage for the uncertain present, an opportunity to put their work in dialogue with other contemporary art or scholarship from the affected regions, or even an avenue to publication..
Preparing for worst-case scenarios may be grim, but the archive is grounded in the underlying hope that the accomplishments of the past and present may still make possible a better future.
Outreach will be essential to the success of For Future Use, and we encourage you to contact artists or scholars whose work you believe should be secured in the archive. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or recommendations.