National Femininity Used and Contested: Women’s Participation in the Nationalist Underground in Western Ukraine during the 1940s-50s


  • Oksana Kis Institute of Ethnology (Lviv), National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine



Abstract: In the 1940s and 1950s, thousands of Ukrainian women joined the underground nationalist movement on west Ukrainian lands as members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). However, their experiences and contributions to this movement remain understudied, marginalized and trivialized in historical research. A study of personal testimonies of former female insurgents allows one to question the established perception that women served only in auxiliary and secondary roles in the nationalist organizations. This paper examines whether the concept of normative femininity—as constructed by the nationalist ideology—actually corresponded to the women’s real life experiences in the underground. It explores the variety of ways in which a traditional notion of femininity was maintained, broadened, negotiated, contested and transgressed through women’s active involvement in guerrilla war.

Keywords: Ukrainian Women, Militarism,  Nationalist Underground, Femininity, OUN, UPA


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