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Forging Rights in a New Democracy

Forging Rights in a New Democracy: Ukrainian Students Between Freedom and Justice

Anna Fournier
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Forging Rights in a New Democracy
    Book Description:

    The last two decades have been marked by momentous changes in forms of governance throughout the post-Soviet region. Ukraine's political system, like those of other formerly socialist states of Eastern Europe, has often been characterized as being "in transition," moving from a Soviet system to one more closely aligned with Western models. Anna Fournier challenges this view, investigating what is increasingly recognized as a critical aspect of contemporary global rights discourse: the active involvement of young people living in societies undergoing radical change. Fournier delineates a generation simultaneously embracing various ideological stances in an attempt to make sense of social conditions marked by the disjuncture between democratic ideals and the everyday realities of growing economic inequality. Based on extensive fieldwork in public and private schools in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, Forging Rights in a New Democracy explores high-school-aged students' understanding of rights and justice, and the ways they interpret and appropriate discourses of citizenship and civic values in the educational setting and beyond. Fournier's rich ethnographic account assesses the impact on the making of citizens of both formal and informal pedagogical practices, in schools and on the streets. Chronicling her subjects' encounters with state representatives and "violent entrepreneurs" as well as their involvement in peaceful protests alongside political activists, Fournier demonstrates the extent to which young people both reproduce and challenge the liberal discourse of rights in ways that illuminate the everyday paradoxes of market democracy. By tracking students' active participation in larger contests about the nature of liberty and entitlement in the context of redefined rights, her book provides insight into emergent configurations of citizenship in the New Europe.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0745-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on Transliteration and Translation
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Chapter 1 Young Citizens and the Meanings of Rights in a Globalizing World
    (pp. 1-24)

    On my first day of fieldwork in Ukrainian schools, I was leafing through a ninth-grade history textbook in the teachers’ lounge when I realized that the pictures in the section on the French Revolution had been radically altered. With the help of ink and liquid corrector, someone had transformed all the great figures of the French Revolution into pirates with scars and eye patches. Marat had become Captain Barbarossa! I was thrilled with the students’ superimposition of “outlaws,” and spontaneously shared my discovery with a biology teacher sitting in the lounge. We marveled at students’ creativity, as, holding the book...

  6. Chapter 2 Order, Excess, and the Construction of the Patriot
    (pp. 25-70)

    In his 2004 Motherland Defenders’ Day Speech, former president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma stated: “The real patriotism of our time lies in safeguarding the public order (poriadok) established by our independence and by the historical wisdom of Ukrainians. That is what it really means to be a modern patriot [suchasnyi patriot]” (UT-1, February 23, 2004). Why would order and its maintenance become the central element of real Ukrainian patriotism? On the one hand, order was tied to the present (the patriotism “of our time,” the “modern” patriot.) On the other hand, the president also pointed to the “historical wisdom” of...

  7. Chapter 3 Seeking Rights, Performing the Outlaw
    (pp. 71-103)

    “When we are in school, we feel like slaves [raby], not like people,” Tanya, a ninth grader in the public school, whispered to me as we waited for the morning bell. Given that humanism is the intended direction of education in Ukraine, it is surprising to hear students refer to themselves as “slaves,” a term that denotes lack of rights and absence of agency. Tanya went on to say that “there is a single opinion for everyone, and the teacher is always right. You cannot diverge from this opinion; you must do what they tell you. Outside of the school,...

  8. Chapter 4 The “Bandit State”: From State Force to the Violent Pedagogies of Capitalism
    (pp. 104-131)

    In November 2004, I was visiting the Western Ukrainian city of L’viv with a class when students pointed to a peculiar graffiti in Ukrainian (Cyrillic alphabet): “kuchmafiyanukovych.” The inscription was a visual representation of what many citizens saw as the entanglement of government (President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yanukovych) and bandits (Mafia). Citizens also used the metaphor of the “bandit government/state [bandyts’ka vlada]” to refer to Leonid Kuchma’s administration, and this kind of language came to be central to mass mobilization around the Orange Revolution. The concept of “bandit state” seems counterintuitive given the traditional view of bandits as existing...

  9. Chapter 5 Citizenship Between Western and Soviet Modernities
    (pp. 132-160)

    Shortly after the Orange Revolution of November–December 2004, I asked high school students in the public and private schools to write their thoughts on what it meant for them to be citizens of a European country. I wanted to get a sense of their understandings and expectations of Europe an citizenship. In their essays, students claimed that to be a citizen of a European state means “to live in a democratic country, where human rights are more important than anything [ponad use]; where people will receive decent wages and pensions that allow them to live like people [zhyty po-liuds’ky].”...

  10. Chapter 6 From Revolution to Conversation?
    (pp. 161-178)

    After the revolution, the terms of engagement and negotiation between students and school authorities underwent significant change. The school as an institution had not witnessed the radical transformations experienced in other areas of society, and young people now seemed even more aware of its shortcomings in the area of democratic practice. Crucially, the school still lacked a space for face-to-face “conversation” between students and school authorities. The pedagogies of nonviolent street protests had altered students’ quest for (civic or other) freedoms, so that the new strategies they used in schools blurred the boundary between democracy and force, or conversation and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 179-184)

    The tendency in much recent writing on post-Soviet states has been to view “transition” as the transformation, through exposure to new “Western” models, of post-socialist subjectivities, collectivities, and socialities. This book challenges such a partial view by focusing on the ways in which post-Soviet citizenries themselves actively transform, negotiate, and localize the very concepts aimed at shaping them. Change in the region can thus be viewed in terms of a constant engagement or conversation. This model restores a particular concept of local agency: not so much the agency of outright “resistance” as the agency that arises from reproducing imported political...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 185-190)
  13. References
    (pp. 191-204)
  14. Index
    (pp. 205-211)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 212-214)