Women in the former Soviet Union, despite a legacy of high levels of education and labor force participation, face a host of new problems, according to editors Kathleen Kuehnast and Carol Nechemias. Neo-familialist ideologies have arisen, with a longing for the return of traditional families. A gendered division of labor in the market economy has pushed women to the bottom of the pyramid of small businesses as bazaar merchants. And in the political arena, men dominate formal government structures and political parties, while women dominate the realm of non-governmental organizations.

Post-Soviet Women Encountering Transition studies these problems through a series of essays by social scientists from the United States, Europe, and the former Soviet Union, going beyond coverage of Russia and ethnic Russians to treat Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and the Tatar and Sakha Republics of Russia.

Through anthropology, political science, and other disciplines, the contributors examine women’s role in nation-building, rural household economies, and democratization and civic activism. A final set of essays studies the interaction of post-Soviet women with Western aid organizations, which often pursue strategies not consonant with the situations and expressed desires of the women they are trying to help.

Contributors: David Abramson, Andrea Berg, Susan Crate, Elena Gapova, Katherine Graney, Julie Hemment, Armine Ishkanian, Janet Johnson, Rebecca Kay, Ludmila Popkova, Michele Rivkin-Fish, Nayereh Tohidi, Cynthia Werner, and Tatiana Zhurzhenko.

Kathleen Kuehnast is a research associate at George Washington University, and Carol Nechemias is an associate professor of public policy at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg.


Blair A. Ruble and Nancy E. Popson

Introduction: Women Navigating Change in Post-Soviet Currents
Kathleen Kuehnast and Carol Nechemias

Part I. Gender and Nation Building
1. Strong Women, Weak State: Family Politics and Nation Building in Post-Soviet Ukraine
Tatiana Zhurzhenko
2. The Gender of Sovereignty: Constructing Statehood, Nation, and Gender Regimes in Post-Soviet Tatarstan
Katherine E. Graney
3. Engendering Citizenship in Postcommunist Uzbekistan
David Abramson
4. Conceptualizing Gender, Nation, and Class in Post-Soviet Belarus
Elena Gapova

Part II. Women and Rural Household Economics
5. Feminizing the New Silk Road: Women Traders in Rural Kazakhstan
Cynthia Werner
6. The Gendered Nature of Viliui Sakha Post-Soviet Adaptation
Susan A. Crate

Part III. Democratization and Women’s Civic Activism
7. Women, Building Civil Society, and Democratization in Post-Soviet Azarbaijan
Nayereh Tohidi
8. Women’s Political Activism in Russia: The Case of Samara
Ludmila Popkova
9. Two Worlds Apart: The Lack of Integration between Women’s Informal Networks and Nongovernmetal Organizations in Uzbekistan
Andrea Berg
10. Sisterhood versus the “Moral” Russian State: The Postcommunist Politics of Rape
Janet Elise Johnson

Part IV. Assistance Encounters
11. Meeting the Challenge Together? Russian Grassroots Women’s Organizations and the Shortcomings of Western Aid
Rebecca Kay
12. Working at the Local-Global Intersection: The Challenges Facing Women in Armenia’s Nongovernmental Organization Sector
Armine Ishkanian
13. Gender and Democracy: Strategies of Engagement and Dialogue on Women’s Issues after Socialism
Michele Rivkin-Fish
14. Strategizing Gender and Development: Action Reserach and Ethnographic Responsibility in the Russian Provinces
Julie Hemment



“[The essays] do not dwell on the deteriorating situation of women in the former USSR, but rather look at the ways women cope, and the role of foreign aid and local NGOs in current and future development.”—Choice

“A welcome body of knowledge.”—Alesya Bogaevskaya, Nationalities Papers

“Notable for its explicit aim to contribute ‘something interesting…to not only the scholarly literature but also to the policy community.’”—Sarah D. Phillips, Canadian Slavonic Papers

“Sophisticated in approach, rich in detail and powerful in its message.”—Jenny R. Wustenberg, Political Studies Review