The condition of women in the former Soviet Islamic republics: Why seventy years of Sovietization was unable to eradicate these republics' patriarchal social structures

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Roger Kanet - Committee Chair


Until very recently, most scholars had generally overlooked the condition of women in the former Soviet Islamic republics. The breakup of the Soviet empire however for the first time opened up windows into the cultural and social lives of the Moslem population. In the scholastic community, tremendous amount of research has been carried out on the historical treatment of women in Islam, on the position of women in the former Soviet Union and its successor states, and on the relationships between Islam and capitalism. However, nowhere in this broad and growing literature that deals with the economic, political, and ideational aspects of the above topics have these questions been examined comprehensively within one study. The dissertation attempts to address this question, in order to fill this gap, as well as to pose and respond to the question: why is it that seventy years of Sovietization was unable to alter significantly the social environment of women'? To put it differently, the dissertation will examine the impact of patriarchal social attitudes on the position of women in these societies within the overall context of the influences of Islamic, Soviet and liberal capitalist cultures and circumstances.The dissertation will demonstrate what role traditional practices have played in shaping women's lives throughout these periods and regardless of their different roots. The examination of the region's history, Soviet and post-Soviet perceptions of women in each republic, and cultural practices from the pre-Islamic throughout Soviet period will make it clear that fundamentally the social treatment and position of women in the former Soviet Islamic republics over all has not been substantially altered despite the many changes women have experienced throughout the seven decades of the Soviet era. That is, even though women have been permitted to enter institutions of learning and participate in the political and economic environment, the terms of that participation continue to be set within the context of male-dominated social structures. I will argue that there are two reasons for this resistance to change. First, Soviet policies themselves, although intended to create a society in which women's role was equal to that of their male counterparts, in fact sustained the very elements and values that the regime was attempting to eliminate. Secondly, despite the different ethnic and cultural roots of the region, there exist a strong and shared historical and religious tradition that during the period of Russian and Soviet domination served as a weapon against Sovietization.


Political Science, International Law and Relations; Sociology, Social Structure and Development

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