Freedom Taking Place: War, Women and Culture at the Intersection of Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus

Jessica Zychowicz (Ed.)

by Oksana Briukhovetska (Secondary, Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska (The Polish Institute of World Art Studies, Poland; Fundacja Art & Modern), Małgorzata Jankowska (Academy of Fine Arts Gdańsk, Poland), Olga Plakhotnik (Ethnology Institute of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine;Greifswald University, Germany), Maria Mayerchyk (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukraine), Svitlana Biedarieva (Kennan Institute Wilson Center; George Washington University), Kateryna Iakovlenko (; University College London SSEES), Joanna Dobkowska-Kubacka (University of Łódź, Poland), Veranika Laputska (Graduate School for Social Research, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland), Antonina Stebur (; The International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine; Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany; European College of Liberal Art, Minsk, Belarus), Nataliya Tchermalykh (University of Geneva, Switzerland), Jessica Zychowicz (Fulbright Ukraine; Institute of International Education Kyiv office, Ukraine), Agnieszka Graff (American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland), Natallia Paulovich (Independent Researcher, Warsaw, Poland), Iryna Shuvalova (University of Oslo, Norway)

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'Freedom Taking Place: War, Women and Culture at the Intersection of Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus' is a compelling and original collection. The richness of the sources and the interdisciplinary nature of the methodology is very impressive. [...] The reflection on self-positionality and opening a conversation about the work on the intersection of activism and academic commitment is long overdue in East European studies. I am convinced that this book can become a very strong addition to many courses on Eastern Europe, and feminism as well as courses on art history and gender studies. [...] This book will be a great and important accomplishment.

Anna Muller
Frank and Mary Padzieski Endowed Professor in Polish/Polish American/Eastern European Studies
Assistant Professor of History
University Michigan-Dearborn

This volume, edited by the distinguished expert on women's condition in Eastern and Central Europe, Dr. Jessica Zychowicz, is chock full of conceptual insights and empirical data that elucidate women’s struggles to unbound their agency and remove structural constrain to their creativity in three neighboring nations of Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus. Must read for those dealing with gender studies and social transformations of East and Central European nations.

Pavlo Fedorchenko-Kutuyev
Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department
Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

The edited volume presents in-depth analyses of the extraordinary challenges faced by women in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. The authors show women of Eastern Europe as core agents of social change behind historic movements, including the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, anti-state protests in Belarus in 2021-22, and the “Black Protests” in Poland. This collection is a must-read for scholars and students of women’s rights and Eastern Europe, as it analyzes the interplay between war and feminism, identity and reproductive rights, violence against women, and gender equality in a fast-changing part of the world.

Prof. Dr. Sophia Wilson
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville;
President, American Association for Ukrainian Studies

Freedom as a concept shifts with different forms of expression. As the authors of this volume convey in their focus on 'freedom of expression', the idea of 'freedom' in the twenty-first century does not stand apart as a purely physical location marked by national borders. In the Internet Age information is increasingly co-determinate of physical freedom. The information-dense space of the protests of 2021, and beyond, provide soil for the intellectuals writing in this volume to reflect on women’s agency in struggles for human rights.

Where historical discourse on “The Woman Question” once conflicted with “feminism” as a perceived importation from the West, this conflict also produced productive tensions that have provided ongoing sites for research. When closely studied, these contexts can deepen global concepts of democracy and justice, providing not only pathways for acts of solidarity and mutual assistance, but intellectual depth and breadth for the future 'ways of knowing', and thus ways of creating, more equitable post-conflict power systems and citizenship amid times of revolution and war. Coming from multiple generations, gender identities, nationalities, and language; the authors in this volume represent the most forward-thinking voices and figures working on gender in the region today.

List of Figures
Author Biographies

I. Introduction
Jessica Zychowicz

II. On Unity and Autonomy: Unmaking Vulnerable Subjectivity

Chapter 1
Women’s History as the History of Dispossession in Ukrainian Documentary Art
Svitlana Biedarieva

Chapter 2
Stasik: Problematizing Representations of Femininity in Wartime Ukraine Through Popular Music
Iryna Shuvalova

Chapter 3
“We felt that the country was in the stage of a rough cut . . .” : Vernacular Documentation, Political Affect and the Ideological Functions of Catharsis
Nataliya Tchermalykh

Chapter 4
Between Time of Nation and Feminist Time: Genealogies of Feminist Protest in Ukraine
Olga Plakhotnik
Maria Mayerchyk

Chapter 5
“As Never Before”: The Body and Revolution in the Ukrainian Worlds of Natalka Husar and Lesia Khomenko
Jessica Zychowicz

III. On Crossing Borders: Past as Litmus of Freedom of Expression

Chapter 6
“No Need for Genius—Good Taste is Enough”: Conditional Permission on Women’s Professional Art Practices in the Kingdom of Poland in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Joanna Dobkowska-Kubacka

Chapter 7
Fighting for Ourselves: Iconography of the Body in Polish Women Artists’ Works After 1945
Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska
Małgorzata Jankowska

Chapter 8
Materiality, Maternity, and Ignorance: How Women Artists Faced Social And Economic Crises in 1990s Kyiv
Kateryna Iakovlenko

Chapter 9
Beyond Three Colors: Exploring Soviet Memory of Race
Oksana Briukhovetska

IV. On Social Transformation: Text, Body, Protest, Ballot

Chapter 10
How Feminist is the Belarusian Revolution? Female Agency and Participation in the 2020 Post-Election Protests
Natallia Paulovich

Chapter 11
2020 Women’s Emancipation in Belarus: From Housewives to Symbols of Freedom
Veranika Laputska

Chapter 12
“People Have Nothing to Oppose to State Violence Except their Fragile Bodies”: Configurations of Feminism in Belarusian Protest Art
Аntonina Stebur

Chapter 13
“You are not alone!” Poland’s New Feminism and New Feminist Art
Agnieszka Graff


Dr. Jessica Zychowicz is the Director of Fulbright Ukraine & IIE: Institute of International Education, Kyiv Office. She is the author of the award winning book, 'Superfluous Women: Art, Feminism, and Revolution in Twenty-First Century Ukraine' (University of Toronto Press 2020), which won the American Association of Ukrainian Studies 2022 Prize, the Honorable Mention for the Omelijan Pritsak Prize for Ukrainian Studies at ASEEES and the Honorable Mention for the Scaglione Prize in Slavic Studies at MLA; a Polish edition appears on Museum of Modern Art Warsaw with Karakter Press. Dr. Zychowicz was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar (2017-2018) to Kyiv Mohyla Academy Department of Sociology. She was a Research Fellow at University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs (2015-2016), and at Uppsala University in Sweden and University of Alberta in Canada. She is currently an elected Board Member of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS), an Advisory Board member of H-Net Ukraine, and a curatorial consultant at Ireland Museum of Modern Art. She has given invited public keynote lectures at universities and museums in the U.S. and Europe, authored many articles and chapters on presses in several countries, and is founding co editor of the Forum for Race and Postcolonialism at ''. She earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan and holds a degree in English literature from the University of California Berkeley.
For more information on Dr. Jessica Zychowicz, please visit ''.

Protest, Feminism, LGBTQIA, Aesthetics, post-Soviet, Revolution, Art Activism, War, Authoritarianism, East Europe, Democracy, Peace and Conflict

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Freedom Taking Place: War, Women and Culture at the Intersection of Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


32 B&W

Publication date

April 2023