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

Anna Fournier

224 pages | 6 x 9 | 9 illus.
Cloth 2012 | ISBN 9780812244267 | $65.00s | Outside the Americas £52.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
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"A remarkable achievement. Fournier demonstrates superb command of theoretical literature, while telling a compelling story, supported by direct observation. . . . The current conflict in Ukraine has often been described as a battle between the West and Russia, behind which the ghost of the Soviet Union looms large. It cannot be so reduced. Fournier's insistence on locally derived, dynamic notions of citizenship and her detailed account of the Ukrainians' complex relationship with corruption testify to the homegrown roots of the dilemma that the Ukrainians now face."—European Education
"Fournier's greatest strength is her ability to look beyond the stereotypical model of democracy in the West and the post-Soviet space to illustrate and account for the views and actions of her research participants. . . . She also is able to show how not only democratic practices but also their alternatives are repertoires that are enacted or performed by students in the school, and she traces how these repertoires circulate to students and the school context."—Anthropology & Education Quarterly

"Through ethnographic fieldwork in high schools, both public and private, Fournier offers rich details about how Ukraine's young people are positioning themselves vis-à-vis one another, their elders, authorities, and the state. Hers is a sympathetic view that is oftentimes very funny, catching young people as they really are, including their antics inside and outside the classroom."—Melissa Caldwell, University of California, Santa Cruz

"The topic is timely and relevant. Fournier counters the prevailing argument voiced by political scientists, the media, and ideologues that Ukraine is in 'transition' from one kind of political system to another by showing how—at least in students' ideations and expressions—Ukraine's younger generation embrace many different positions simultaneously."—Amy Stambach, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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.

Anna Fournier teaches anthropology at the University of Manitoba and is a visiting scholar in the Department of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University.

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