Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Accessing Possibility: Disability, Parent-Activists and Citizenship in Contemporary Russia

This paper highlights ethnographic case studies of two mothers caring for special needs children in Petrozavodsk, Russia (a city of 300,000 near the Finnish border). The still-prevalent institutionalization of children with disabilities in Russia means that there are few options for parents who choose to keep special needs children at home. Parent-activists in Petrozavodsk have staged two civil legal suits to enforce the right to public education guaranteed in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, resulting in a new inclusive education program in local schools. Examining these two case studies, I find that binary axes of autonomy/dependency and public/private that dominate teleologies of the postsoviet transition are upset by the hybrid strategies that the case studies illuminate. I propose that these refractions echo calls from anthropologists to find space for alterity within neoliberalism, and may offer new openings for a politics of disability justice and ethnography of the postsoviet both.