Originally published in 2007, based on research conducted during 1996-1998, Julie Hemment’s engrossing study traces the development encounter through interactions between international foundation and Russian women’s groups during a decade of transformation. Prohibited from organizing independently under state socialism, women’s groups became a focus of attention in the post-Soviet period for foundations eager to promote participatory democracy, but the vision of the civil society that emerged (the “third sector”) was far from what Russian activists envisioned or what donor agencies promised. Drawing on ethnographic methods and participatory action research (PAR), Hemment tells the story of her introduction to and growing collaboration with members of the group Zhenskii Svet in the provincial city of Tver’. Her account offers an ethnographic perspective on the decade of the 1990s and the terrain of women’s independent organizing at that time – the openings, the sense of possibility these activists experienced, as well as the challenges they encountered.
Julie Hemment is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research interests include gender, youth and post-socialism, NGOs and global civil society, social welfare and citizenship, and feminist, participatory and collaborative methodologies.