Program Description

In what ways do social identities structure the articulation of social issues in the former Soviet Union? And how is the articulation of these issues linked to the formation of identities in post-Soviet society?

These are fundamental questions addressed by a two-year training and research project focused on three non-Russian republics of the former Soviet Union -- Estonia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Through the support of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the University of Michigan Center for Russian and East European Studies provided training in oral history and focus group methods to University of Michigan (U-M) faculty, graduate students and their counterparts in the three former republics. These methods were used to carry out collaborative research on the relationship between social identity and the articulation of social issues that accompany the post-Soviet transition.

During the first year of the project (1995-96), U-M faculty and graduate students made site visits to Estonia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan to discuss the theoretical foundations and comparative aims of the project with scholars at our partner institutions and to identify suitable Former Soviet Union (FSU) participants for the project's training and research components. FSU scholars and U-M graduate students selected to participate in the project then reviewed previous research and analyzed documents on the post-Soviet transition under the guidance of the U-M Research Team. In May-June 1996, FSU and U-M participants attended a U-M graduate seminar entitled, "Narrative Analysis, Oral Histories, Focus Groups," and met to finalize the design of the research to be undertaken in 1996-1997.

In the second year of the project (1996-97), U-M graduate students took part in a Fall 1996 seminar at U-M on "Identity Formation and Social Issues in the Former Soviet Union" co-taught by two members of the U-M Research Team. U-M and FSU participants then finalized the research design and executed a series of focus groups and oral histories in each of the three project countries. Following completion of the research, FSU and U-M participants convened for a final workshop in Kyiv in August 1997 to review preliminary results and discuss future forms of collaboration.

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