Exploring Continuities and Reconciling Ruptures

Nationalism, Feminism, and the Ukrainian Women's Movement

in Volume 1 (2007): Issue 1 (Mar 2007)
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Aspects of the women's movement evolving in post-Soviet Ukraine may be viewed as an extension of a transnational Ukrainian women's movement that had its origins in the nineteenth-century Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. This essay traces the continuities of personnel and mission that serve to link disparate historical phases of such a movement over temporal and geographic discontinuities, even over homeland and diaspora communities. A central question is how the political history of Ukraine, and in particular, its lack of a unified state for most of the twentieth century, has affected the history of the country's women's movement. Historically, the feminism of Ukrainian women, often clearly evident in their pronouncements and strategies, has been obscured by the political context of their movement, which has encouraged its framing as nationalist, even by the women themselves. It is suggested that a growing body of historical scholarship is promoting a broader understanding of Ukrainian women's activism. Such projects can serve to bridge ruptures in the 'national ethos' that stem from Ukraine's complex history, reclaim the feminism of the movement, and focus the range of women's activism in Ukraine on a consensual, specifically women's, agenda.