Search graduate:

    Daria Khrystych

  • Urban Studies
  • MA
  • Invisible Care: Civilian Volunteerism in Wartime Ukraine
  • Tutor: Sean Tyler and Keiti Kljavin
  • Master thesis
‘Stream’ of Marsh Zhinok volunteers loading up the car. Photo by Elena Kraynova.

An outburst of Euromaidan civilian protests in Ukraine in 2013 and the subsequent ongoing Russian military invasion provoked a mass civilian engagement in volunteerism that eventually shaped a vital pillar of support for the society in crisis.  In this thesis, I am turning towards the concept of ‘volunteerism’ as a form of informal work, contrary to its mainstream accounts of civil activism. Coupled with feminist theoretical elaborations on social reproduction, the thesis introduces voluntary work in Ukraine as a practice that sustains society in crisis and lacks recognition within larger power structures. This marks the entry point for sketching out the impact of contemporary neoliberal capitalism on social reproduction with a specific focus on the Ukrainian capitalist state. It becomes evident that the neoliberalisation project of Ukraine, propelled by international financial institutions and the Ukrainian political elites, stipulated a crisis of social reproduction that preconditioned the emergence of ubiquitous volunteerism and revealed its gender-based prerequisites in terms of mobilisation. By that, I argue that, despite conventional applications of volunteerism as a practice of a choice, in the Ukrainian context it is shaped as a strategy of survival in times of multiple crises. A close examination of the feminist volunteer initiative Marsh Zhinok in Kyiv employs a critical perspective on the organisation’s methods and activities that offers a nuanced reading of its implications and opens up a capacity of volunteer work to transcend into a practice of collective solidarity.