Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Gerald W. Creed

Committee Members

Jane C. Schneider

Kate Crehan

Catherine K. Wanner

Subject Categories



cultural anthropology, Slavic studies, gender studies, womens studies


Ukraine's women's movement is part of a complex social field characteristic of formerly Soviet countries, but it also emerges from its own specific political history. Post-Soviet period, (neo-) nationalism, feminism and (neo-) socialism are significant forces shaping women's collective behavior. Their activism resonates with the pre-Soviet liberation struggle while it is shaped also by practices from the recent Soviet past. It also is sensitive to external pressures, including the agendas of Western aid and the Ukrainian diaspora.

This study accepts the emergence of non-state women's organizations as indicative of an incipient movement and examines this field of social activism in Cherkasy, a largely rural province of central Ukraine. The inquiry proceeds from the heterogeneity of women's responses to Ukraine's post-Soviet transition, and from the premise that their various life experiences bear on their engagement in activism and choice of organizational commitment. The analysis probes issues of differential recruitment, personal presentations of self as activist, and ideological motivation for participation in projects often melding feminist, nationalist, and/or socialist goals.

The spectrum of activism mirrors Ukraine's post-Soviet nation building crisis, and includes both conservative and transformational aspects. An optimistic trend is discerned in the practices of self-directed activist groups seeking affiliation with independent national women's federations and working outside of the para-statal structure that is heir to the Soviet women's councils. Personal narratives of activism reflect positions on gender and nation and suggest a Ukrainian feminist standpoint that is simultaneously supportive of both women's parity and post-Soviet national integrity.

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