Empowering Women in Russia

Empowering Women in Russia

Activism, Aid, and NGOs
Julie Hemment
Distribution: World
Publication date: 2/19/2007
Format: paper 208 pages, 8 b&w photos
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21891-9
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Julie Hemment’s engrossing study traces the development encounter through interactions between international foundations and Russian women’s groups during a decade of national collapse. Prohibited from organizing independently under state socialism, women’s groups became a focus of attention in the mid-1990s for foundations eager to promote participatory democracy, but the version of civil society that has emerged (the “third sector”) is far from what Russian activists envisioned and what donor agencies promised. Drawing on ethnographic methods and Participatory Action Research, Hemment tells the story of her introduction to and growing collaboration with members of the group Zhenskii Svet (Women’s Light) in the provincial city of Tver’.

Author Bio

Julie Hemment is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


". . . This thoughtful, intriguing analysis of a complex situation will be of interest to scholars in Russian studies, anthropology, women's studies, economics, and development studies. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice

". . . What is clear is that the decidedly global, critical, self-reflexive and praxis-oriented model that Hemment offers here is made for such complex and dynamic interventions, and finally provides an avenue for anthropologists to handle them with the precision, attention and care they deserve." —Anthropological Quarterly

"[W]ritten in a clear, accessible, and very engaging way, making it suitable for anyone within the development sector with an interest in gender issues in Russia and the former Soviet Union, or an interest in processes of democratisation . . ." —Gender & Development

"[A] beautifully constructed text that provides a vibrant account of how an action research approach can be enacted in a cross—cultural research context." —Hilary Pilkington, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick

". . . an evocative and engaging study of the inner workings of Russia's 'Third Sector' in the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Using the method of participatory action research (PAR), Hemment expertly weaves a compelling tale of the trials and tribulations of a small group of women struggling to survive in Tver', a provincial city roughly 170 kilometers outside of Moscow. . . . [The book's] short and accessible style make it ideal for use in upper—level undergraduate and graduate course across a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, political science, international studies, and women’s studies. Overall, Hemment's book is a real jewel and makes an important and timely contribution to the growing field of postsocialist cultural studies. —" —Soyuz

"This is the detailed, careful, respectful study of the day—to—day problems of East—West exchange that we all crave to have. Hemment offers nuanced descriptions of the multiple contradictions for NGOs, which are asked to perform miracles and struggle heroically to bring gender justice to new democracies. —Ann Snitow, New School for Social Research, founder of the Network of Eas" —West Women

"[A]ddresses issues crucial to our understanding of democracy, civic agency, and Western aid programs. It offers a coherent discussion of how gender and women's activism are shaped by—and can still transgress—the harsh reality of the pos" —communist 'brave new world.'" —Elena Gapova, Centre for Gender Studies, European Humanities University

"Dr. Hemment has produced a beautifully constructed text that provides a vibrant account of how an action research approach can be enacted in a cross-cultural research context." —Hilary Pilkington, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick

"This is unquestionably an important book in our efforts to understand women in Russia and the evolution of post-Soviet Russian society. . . . It can be recommended to students and scholars of Russia as well as those specializing in women's issues." —
Journal of Contemporary History , Vol. 44, No. 4

"Despite the critiques of the NGO world and the collapse of the women's crisis centre,Hemment's collaborative research had fruitful results as many women felt empowered and benefited . . . ." —
Women's Studies Intnl Form

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Gendered Interventions
1. Muddying the Waters: Participatory Action Research in Tver'
2. Querying Democratization: Civil Society, International Aid, and the Riddle of the Third Sector
3. Gender Mainstreaming and the Third-Sectorization of Russian Women's Activism
4. Global Civil Society and the Local Costs of Belonging: Setting up a Crisis Center in Tver'
5. A Tale of Two Projects

List of References