Security and emancipation as resistance
: How contesting and navigating narratives of women in Chechnya impacts NGO actions

  • Kathryn Mitchell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis investigates how women’s emancipation is contested in post-conflict Chechnya by looking at NGO efforts to push the boundaries between the private- public and local-global spheres in resistance. How women’s NGOs are able to challenge these boundaries is demonstrated through relational autonomy and relational thinking that will show NGOs mobilising, navigating and contending with various narratives of women developed from the Chechen government, Russian government, and international treaties focused on gender. These narratives were developed through interviews with NGOs working in Chechnya and discourse analysis of Russian statements and reports presented to the international community, as well as statements made by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic. Kadyrov utilised performative hypermasculinity in his narrative of the traditional Chechen woman to help build legitimacy and nationalism after the Second Chechen War. When this narrative is contested by NGOs in the public and global spheres, they are then perceived as a threat to Kadyrov’s legitimacy and Chechen nationalism, and are then positioned as a threat to Chechen security. Kadyrov’s petty sovereigns in the Republic work to limit this threat and maintain Kadyrov’s legitimacy by limiting women’s access to the public sphere. They are also seen to not uphold international rulings that go against Kadyrov’s narrative. In doing so they are working to uphold Kadyrov’s power when these narratives are contested. This framework was used to conduct a critical review of Booth’s theory of security and emancipation as it applies to resistance.

Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorHeather Johnson (Supervisor) & Michael Bourne (Supervisor)


  • Critical security studies
  • feminist security studies
  • Chechnya
  • non-government organisations
  • gender

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