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Fletcher Eurasia Club Lunch Seminar: Emily Channell-Justice on Political Activism in Ukraine

February 6 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm

Please join the Fletcher Eurasia Club for a lunch seminar with Emily Channell-Justice, Director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. She will discuss her new book, Without the State: Self-Organization and Political Activism in Ukraine (2022), about the historical implications of political activism in Ukraine and its relevance in the lead-up to the Russia-Ukraine War.

Without the State explores the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests – a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine – through in-depth ethnographic research with leftist, feminist, and student activists in Kyiv. The book discusses the concept of “self-organization” and the notion that if something needs to be done and a person has the competence to do it, then they should simply do it. Channell-Justice reveals how self-organization in Ukraine came out of leftist practices but actors from across the spectrum of political views also adopted self-organization over the course of Euromaidan, including far-right groups. The widespread adoption of self-organization encouraged Ukrainians to rethink their expectations of the relationship between citizens and their state. The book explains how self-organized practices have changed people’s views on what they think they can contribute to their own communities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, including the author’s first-hand experience of the entirety of the Euromaidan protests, Without the State provides a unique analytical account of this crucial moment in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

In Without the State, Channell-Justice draws a direct line from the Euromaidan protests to Ukraine’s remarkable response to Russia’s 2022 invasion and encourages readers to link the growth of small-scale and mutual aid networks in 2014 with the Ukrainian response to the 2022 full-scale invasion. Additionally, the book’s foregrounding of leftist and other marginal political voices sets the stage for understanding why these same actors volunteered for the Ukrainian Armed Forces or in humanitarian aid networks following the full-scale invasion. In addition to a deeper understanding of the concept and context of self-organization, Without the State also shows the plurality of political voices in post-Euromaidan Ukraine, adding nuance to our understanding of contemporary Ukrainian politics and, in the future, the landscape of post-war political reconstruction.

We encourage you to read in advance the following articles by Channell-Justice on Ukrainian revolutionsUkrainian identity and governance, and the implications of protester demographics on democratization in Ukraine. The Eurasia Club weekly lunch seminar series engages with students, faculty, staff, and researchers to foster a better understanding of the region among members of the Fletcher community. Members of the wider Tufts community are also welcome to attend. Lunch will be served.

Emily Channell-Justice is the Director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. She is a sociocultural anthropologist who has been doing research in Ukraine since 2012. She has pursued research on political activism and social movements among students and feminists during the 2013-2014 Euromaidan mobilizations. Her book, Without the State: Self-organization and Political Activism (2022), won the 2023 American Association of Ukrainian Studies book prize. She is also the editor of Decolonizing Queer Experience: LGBT+ Narratives from Eastern Europe and Eurasia (2020). She has published her research in journals including Political and Legal Anthropology ReviewFeminist AnthropologyRevolutionary RussiaHistory and Anthropology; and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. She received her Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, City University of New York, in 2016, and she was a Havighurst Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of International Studies at Miami University, Ohio from 2016-2019.

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Fletcher Russia and Eurasia Program

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