Magnetic Needles, Burning Haystacks: Web-Archiving a Multiethnic Conflict Zone in Russia's North Caucasus

CONDILL, Kit (2016) Magnetic Needles, Burning Haystacks: Web-Archiving a Multiethnic Conflict Zone in Russia's North Caucasus. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 90 - Information Technology, Preservation and Conservation and News Media.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1599
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Magnetic Needles, Burning Haystacks: Web-Archiving a Multiethnic Conflict Zone in Russia's North Caucasus

From the Chechen wars of the 1990s to the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, and continuing through the current spate of political assassinations in Daghestan, Russia’s North Caucasus region has seen more than its share of military, political, ethnic and religious conflict. The past 25 years have also marked a transition from a Soviet-inspired print culture to a vibrant local digital media, which has produced a wealth of competing online content: pro- vs. anti-government; secular vs. religious; tolerant vs. militant; scholarly vs. popular; and perhaps most importantly, content produced within Russian-controlled regions vs. content produced in exile. The picture is complicated by the extraordinary linguistic diversity of the region, which is home to dozens of distinct languages. My paper will consist, in part, of a survey of online publishing by the ethnic groups of the North Caucasus. Russian, which became the lingua franca of the region in the 20th century, is the main language of publication, but I will also investigate digital media in Chechen, Abkhaz, Ossetian, Avar, Kumyk, and other local languages, which are now struggling to find their place not only in the print and online environments, but also in daily life. Comparisons with earlier periods of upheaval in the North Caucasus, and with conflict zones elsewhere, are possible and will be briefly explored. Finally, I will present the results of my systematic investigations into the accessibility of online content from the North Caucasus for scholarly research. Websites archived by the University of Illinois will be compared to live websites in the region, and to various commercial products purporting to offer full-text searchability for publications from the North Caucasus. This will provide some quantitative data for the purposes of evaluating the best long-term approaches to collecting and preserving this content for libraries and their users.

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